Belize City, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 (CRFM)--Fisheries experts from across the Caribbean region are traveling to Guyana this week for the 14th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum -- the primary technical deliberative body of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). The Forum will be meeting in Georgetown on Thursday, 7 April and Friday, 8 April to undertake its annual stocktaking and planning for the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
The event will bring together more than 50 participants, including directors of fisheries, chief fisheries officers, and other development partners, such as NGOs and international organizations like the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which work with the CRFM in promoting the development, management and conservation of the Caribbean’s fisheries resources.
Justin Rennie, Chief Fisheries Officer of Grenada, will demit chairmanship of the Forum to Denzil Roberts, Chief Fisheries Officer of Guyana, for the 12-month period spanning the new program year which commenced on 1 April. A new vice chairman will also be selected.
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, highlighted the most pressing issues on the agenda: “We’re discussing a lot of emerging issues in the region. We are looking at how to improve conservation and management of key species, apply and use the value chain approach in order to increase benefits, such as increased income and export potential. We are discussing sanitary and phytosanitary capacity as a part of our overall strategy to strengthen our trade capacity, so that we can indeed export more to key international markets and also to provide greater quality and safety in terms of the fish and seafood that we provide for our people as well as our guests and tourists coming into the region.”
Haughton added that the 17 CRFM Member States are also looking at ways to strengthen the linkage between fisheries and tourism, “because the tourism sector is a huge sector and we believe we have a golden opportunity to enhance the linkages between fisheries and tourism to derive more benefits—more income, more employment opportunities—for our fishers and their communities.”
The Forum will also review the region’s progress in implementing the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP), as well as initiatives to strengthen research, and institutional and human capacity through the CRFM’s collaboration with a number of development partners such as the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Florida in the USA, the International Ocean Institute, Dalhousie University, Canada; the University of Wollongong in Australia, and the United Nations University in Iceland.
This collaboration is vital in ensuring that CRFM Member States are equipped with the human and institutional capacity needed to tackle the increasing challenges of sustainable development that confront them—challenges which are being exacerbated by climate change.
One such challenge is the emergence of the Sargassum seaweed on the region’s beaches and in the coastal waters.
“Last year and 2011 we had massive influx of Sargassum seaweed on our beaches that affected our fisheries. So we are putting in place measures to deal with the Sargassum seaweed should it return in the future—we hope it won’t, but just in case it does—and from all indications, we are expecting to have more of this seaweed coming on our shores and in our coastal waters,” Haughton said.
Haughton said that associated with the Sargassum seaweed are large numbers of juvenile dolphinfish (locally known as mahimahi)—which is a very important target species in the Eastern Caribbean.
“Our fishermen, of course, once they see these in large quantities, even though they are juveniles, they will catch them. So we are promoting the implementation of emergency, precautionary management measures; that is, minimum size limits for the dolphinfish fishery,” Haughton said.
Aquaculture is also big on the agenda, and the Forum will discuss a new 5-year aquaculture action plan, which they will be asked to endorse. Since land mass is limited in our region, non-conventional aquaculture schemes are being promoted and explored.
“Aquaponics is something that has been growing in the region—this is growing fish and vegetables together in a limited area using re-circulating water systems. This is more suitable for the smaller islands, like Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados,” Haughton explained.
On the second day of the meeting, the Forum members will discuss a proposal from the United States to support fishers through a risk insurance facility, Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), which will be handling the technical details for the development of the policy. Under this regime, CRFM Member States will make contributions to the scheme in addition to the initial contribution of the USA.
The Caribbean Fisheries Forum will conclude its meeting with recommendations to be submitted at the next meeting of the CRFM’s Ministerial Council—the chief policy making body on fisheries in the Caribbean Region.
Applications are invited from interested and suitably qualified nationals of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism Member States to fill the position of PROGRAMME MANAGER – RESEARCH AND RESOURCE ASSESSMENT
The deadline for the submission of applications is 30 April 2016.
Title: Preparation of A Practical Guide for the Implementation of St. George`s Declaration on Conservation, Management and Sustainable Use of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus)
Summary: The CRFM Secretariat is inviting expressions of interest from suitably qualified resource persons to undertake a short term assignment to prepare A Practical Guide for the Implementation of St. George`s Declaration on Conservation, Management and Sustainable Use of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus). The project will be conducted between 15 January and 5 March, 2016
Study on the impacts of rising cost factors such as capital, labour, maintenance and energy costs on fishing operations in the CRFM Member States and REBYC-II LAC participating countries
The CRFM Secretariat is inviting expressions of interest from suitably qualified persons to undertake a short term assignment to review the impact of rising cost factors, such as capital, labour, maintenance and energy costs on fisheries operations in the CRFM Member States and REBYC-II LAC participating countries, and propose appropriate policy options and strategies for dealing with the resulting issues in order to improve efficiency, improve on productivity and sustainability, and reduce economic risks to the sector. The project will be conducted over a period of ten (10) months between December 2015 and November 2016.
In keeping with the MOU between the CRFM and the IOI, The CRFM Secretariat is pleased to share with you Course announcement for the 2016 IOI Training Programme on Ocean Governance: Policy, Law and Management, to be held at the Dalhousie University in Canada, from18th May to 15th July 2016.
The training programme is specifically designed to benefit mid-career professionals who are responsible for some aspect of coastal or ocean governance including but not limited to personnel from Fisheries Department, Foreign Affairs, Coast Guard / Defense Force, or private sector organization. Given the under-representation of women in the upper echelons of administration and policy-making, particular emphasis is placed on trying to achieve equal numbers of female and male participants, and to create a forum where men and women can learn together, sharing different perspectives and examing issues from different viewpoints.
The programme is expected to include: • Ocean Sciences • Law of the Sea & Principled Ocean Governance • Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management • Sustainable Development • Fisheries and Aquaculture • Energy • Maritime Security • Marine Transportation • Media and Communication • Integrated Maritime Compliance & Enforcement • Negotiation • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) • Project Cycle Management • Performance Management.
Persons from CRFM Member States who are interested in being considered for the available fellowships should contact the Fisheries Division /Department for further information.
Further information on the training course may also be obtained from IOI-Canada’s website ( www.dal.ca/ioihfx ).
VIDEO: Safe Seafood from the Caribbean
A short film on the work of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) to upgrade food safety standards for fish and seafood from CARIFORUM nations [Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Dominican Republic] in a bid to access export markets and guarantee safer seafood to Caribbean consumers; from national consultations and a regional validation workshop in mid-2015.
FORMAT: MP4 1280 x 720 NTSC
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 25 August 2015, (CRFM) – Industry figures and government officials from across the Caribbean fishing industry Tuesday wrapped up two days of talks here acknowledging they were at the very early stages of introducing a new regime for safe seafood for local and international consumption.
The two-day meeting is part of a European Union-funded project to help CARIFORUM countries introduce laws, regulations and a governance system to guarantee safe seafood for export to EU markets and beyond.
The project, which is being carried out by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and supported by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), aims to ramp up food safety standards to enable CARIFORUM fish exporters to take up trading opportunities under the EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Milton Haughton, Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
“Developed countries – the EU, United States, Canada … all have standards that you must meet in order to export to their market,” said Milton Haughton, CRFM executive director. “In our countries we may not meet all those standards currently and so we want to put in place the systems which are quite complicated to be able to enter those markets to satisfy their requirements so that our products can be exported.”
The EU is requiring exporting nations put enforceable legislation in place in each country to govern SPS standards.
“The experts here (were) discussing the regulations, the human resources (and) the institutional arrangements that are required to monitor, evaluate (and) test for various pathogens, and to ensure that we do have a good system in place that meets with international best practice.” Haughton said.
So far, compliance with globally established standards in the region is voluntary – a worrisome development that experts say is stopping member states from tapping into niche markets overseas and boosting foreign exchange earnings.
A two-month long assessment by international consultants has exposed large gaps in legally binding protocols managing food safety throughout the region.
The meeting discussed how to introduce a region-wide set of food safety and environmental safeguards which were presented for review by a team of legal and scientific consultants who moved through the region assessing the state of industry over the last two months.
As they travelled through CARIFORUM group of nations – the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic -a team of consultants from Jamaica, Britain and Iceland inspected processing plants, cold storage facilities and testing laboratories.
The CRFM head expressed the hope that adopting SPS measures region-wide could also have spinoff benefits for local consumers.
“It’s not only about exporting and earning exchange; it’s also ensuring that our people have healthy and safe fish and seafood to eat,” he added. “Given the challenges that we have in this region for economic development, employment and earning foreign exchange, we have to make use of all the resources that we have including ensuring that we can get good prices for our fish and also have safe fish and seafood for our own people.”
Belize, one of the region’s leading fish and seafood exporters, is hoping to learn from other CARIFORUM countries represented at the meeting while offering to sharing information with smaller exporting nations that would help improve food safety standards.
Delilah Cabb Ayala, SPS Coordinator, Belize Agricultural Health Authority
“For the first time, we’re having a forum where we could start discussing (SPS) issues as a region,” said Delilah Cabb Ayala, SPS Coordinator for the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA). “Each country has been looking at their own legislation, trying to ensure that they make the necessary amendments, just to be able to have access to the EU and the other trading partners with which we are currently trading.”
Last year, Belize exported an estimated 44 million US dollars in shrimp alone from total exports worth 64 million US dollars.
Cabb Ayala said the regional effort to harmonise SPS rules across CARIFORUM will be a “lengthy process” but with nations such as Belize ahead of others, she is hoping that proposals will emerge that "take into account all the different levels that we are dealing with within the region."
She continued: “(This) meeting to ensure that we have harmonised procedures is a good thing. Additionally, it allows for technical experts to bring to the fore their current situations, and at that level try to come up with proposals that can actually be implemented at the national levels."
“We could learn from other countries. In the discussions, I said I will be sharing some information that we are implementing in Belize. So countries could look at our proposal and if it is for them adaptable, they could readily move with that.”
The two-day meeting posed questions regarding primary and secondary legislation, including coming food safety laws and protocols, processes for appeals, and procedures for licensing, export and controls.
The meeting considered strategic priorities at the national and regional level and began discussions on a governance structure for food safety and fisheries. The officials also considered how to integrate their work into the development of the fledgling Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) based in Suriname and the progress towards the setting up of national health and food safety authorities.