Belize City, Friday, 28 April 2023 (CRFM)—The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), comprised of Ministers responsible for fisheries from across the Caribbean Community, met on Thursday, 27 April 2023, to chart the way forward for the revitalization and expansion of the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector—a goal which lies at the heart of the CRFM’s observance of its 20th Anniversary this year. During Thursday’s deliberations, the Ministers approved 32 resolutions, as they reviewed progress and mapped out sustainable solutions to challenges such as fisheries management; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and fisheries crime; climate change and ocean acidification; imbalances in international trade; and Sargassum influxes which are expected to reach record levels this year. Furthermore, the Ministers provided guidance and policy direction to the CRFM Secretariat and Member States on harnessing the opportunities arising in the emerging Blue Economy, through initiatives such as a new multimillion-dollar regional project to promote blue economic growth.
Hon. Avinash Singh, Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Trinidad and Tobago, chaired the Seventeenth Meeting of the CRFM Ministerial Council. Trinidad and Tobago took over the reins of the Council from Hon. Parmanand Sewdien, Suriname’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, for a one-year term.
Hon. Singh acknowledged the contributions of the CRFM Secretariat in providing technical support to the Ministers during the proceedings, and for making impactful representations for Member States that benefit the entire region. He added that he looked forward to a very productive term ahead, as the CRFM continues to navigate the waters, in providing a sustainable future for the younger generations to follow.
Ministers map out sustainable solutions to challenges such as fisheries management, climate change, capacity building, imbalances in international trade, and Sargassum influxes
CARICOM countries depend on fishing for food, social welfare, employment, and much more (Photo: CRFM)
At their meeting on Thursday, the Ministers adopted the Protocol to the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy on Aquatic Foods as a Strategic Resource for Food and Nutrition Security—the third protocol adopted under the regional fisheries policy. The protocol’s objective is to recognize, promote, and support the sustainable use of fish, shellfish, marine plants and seafood as a strategic resource for food and nutrition security for the peoples of the Caribbean.
Although fish production in our region is expanding, the Caribbean is still a major importer of fish and seafood. However, CRFM’s Executive Director, Mr. Milton Haughton, noted that there are projects and initiatives being implemented that should improve availability and access to safe and affordable fish and seafood to the people of the region. He announced that a US$48 million project—the CAF/FAO/CRFM/GEF/Caribbean Blue Economy Project entitled, Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities Through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus or the BE-CLME+ Project—should commence around July 2023. The Fisheries Ministers welcomed the final approval of the Project Document by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) in November 2022, paving the way for the disbursement of funds and commencement of the project. The funding includes a US$25 million line of credit co-financed by the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) for fisheries enterprises in the private sector to upgrade their capacities and develop fisheries value chains.
Mr. Milton Haughton, Executive Director,
Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (Photo: CRFM)
The Ministers also welcomed the updates on the efforts by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism and the New Zealand Plant and Food Research (PFR), under the project entitled, Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience in the Caribbean. With support from New Zealand, technical experts in agronomy, technology, engineering and business development, the CRFM and PFR are pursuing the production of liquid fertilizers, compost, and other potential products, while ensuring that any health risks associated with doing so are eliminated through the processing of the Sargassum. Haughton noted that there is a great need for affordable fertilizers for agriculture, much of which is imported. The University of the West Indies and Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) are key partners in this initiative. The intention is to develop processes, technologies, products, and business models that can be made available to potential entrepreneurs from the region, thereby creating jobs and economic activities while mitigating the negative environmental, health and socio-economic impacts of the Sargassum seaweed.
The Ministers issued a strong resolution establishing a roadmap to strengthen measures to prevent “ghost fishing” or abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), which is one of the most harmful forms of marine debris. Since 2018, the CRFM and the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) have collaborated on prevention, mitigation, remediation, predictive modeling and capacity sharing work in the Caribbean. The CRFM Secretariat will now execute a Memorandum of Understanding with the GGGI for enhanced cooperation and coordination in addressing ghost fishing in the region.
Sargassum sampling for testing off the coast of Belize in 2021, during phase 1 of the project (Photo: CRFM)
The Ministers commended the CRFM Secretariat and international development partners for the significant work done and outputs achieved during the past programme year. This body of work included various policies developed and adopted, projects advanced, technical publications completed, training and capacity building support provided, and advances in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and fisheries crime, improving sanitary and phytosanitary systems, strengthening data and information systems, as well as significant contributions to international processes.
This included the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, which was adopted on 17 June 2022, after 21 years of talks. The Ministers urged Member States to take the necessary actions to accept and implement the agreement as soon as possible. However, they are asking Member States to consult all key stakeholders to ensure that all relevant issues are taken into account and that the full implications of the agreement are understood prior to accepting and enshrining it into national law or policies. They furthermore urged Member States to continue working with the CARICOM and CRFM Secretariats in the process of acceptance and implementation of the agreement, and also the future negotiations to address the remaining issues and gaps that could not have been addressed when the current agreement was concluded in 2022.
The Ministers also took note of the recent conclusion of international negotiations that resulted in the formulation of the UN Agreement on Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction in March 2023, and they urged Member States to take advantage of the opportunities to obtain tangible, sustainable benefits from the biodiversity in the marine areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The Fisheries Ministers welcomed the development of the Regional Strategic Framework for Cooperation between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and CARICOM Member States (2020-2026). The Ministers are asking the CRFM Secretariat to work with the IAEA, which has the largest marine lab in the world, located in Monaco, and other regional partners to facilitate and coordinate cooperation activities in fisheries management, aquaculture development, marine biodiversity conservation, ocean acidification, combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and seafood fraud, and other relevant areas where the expertise of IAEA can add value.
The policymakers also endorsed the Convention on Biological Diversity Global Biodiversity Framework , which was adopted by the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention in December 2022. The Convention on Biological Biodiversity is a global treaty adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. The framework sets out the global biodiversity agenda for the next decade, with the overarching goal of living in harmony with nature by 2050—a vision which the CARICOM Fisheries Ministers also endorsed.
The Council reviewed the status of a request made to FAO and reaffirmed the priority accorded to that request, for securing the services of the modern Norwegian marine survey vessel, the Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, to conduct a comprehensive survey of the marine resources in the offshore waters of CARICOM States, to support blue economic development and sustainable use of the living marine resources.
The Council is due to meet again in special session in October 2023.
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Belize City, Wednesday, 5 April 2023 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the technical and advisory arm of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), convened its Twenty-first Meeting earlier this week, on 3 – 4 April 2023. The Forum—which is made up of the heads of national fisheries departments and divisions of the CRFM countries, stakeholders, and regional and international development partners—focused on advancing sustainable management, conservation and development of the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector.
Forum seeks to accelerate blue economic growth and resilience from the marine living resources in the waters of CARICOM countries
The Executive Director of the CRFM, Milton Haughton, said: “The Forum discussed and agreed on a number of very important actions to strengthen governance and management of the fisheries sector as we move forward to realize our collective vision of a future of profitable, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture industries, thriving and resilient fishing communities, underpinned by healthy ecosystems and marine biodiversity and driven by the application of science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship of our people.”
He added that, “It is imperative at this time that we accelerate development and implementation of the policy, legal and institutional reforms and make the investments needed to realize the full potential of our marine and other aquatic resources for sustainable development of our countries, and to provide adequate food, decent jobs, and a better quality of life for our people in the region.”
The gathering addressed a range of regional challenges and opportunities, including building the sector’s resilience to environmental and economic shocks, improving food security, strengthening regional and international trade, and the state of the fisheries resources. They also discussed implementing the recently concluded World Trade Organization (WTO) Fisheries Subsidies agreement and the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework adopted by the 15th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as collaboration with international development partners and donors, training, and capacity building in the public and private sector. Furthermore, they discussed blue economic development, including the initiation of the GEF-funded BE-CLME+ Project (Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities Through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus), which is valued at approximately USD 47 million.
A healthy and resilient Caribbean fisheries underpins a vibrant sector that feeds families across the Caribbean (Photo: CRFM)
Also high on the Forum’s agenda was the need to reduce disaster risk and improve the climate resilience of the fisheries and aquaculture sector, as well as the persistent Sargassum influxes—which are forecasted to be the largest ever recorded for this region this year—through the development of innovative climate resilient products to bolster economic growth, under the New Zealand-funded project being implemented by the CRFM and Plant and Food Research Limited of New Zealand, in collaboration with other regional partners.
The Forum, which supports the CRFM Ministerial Council with the development of regional policies and decisions, also finalized the text of a new regional protocol to the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy, focused on the Role of Fish and Seafood as a strategic resource for food and nutrition security in the region. The formulation of this policy is timely, as the CRFM and other CARICOM bodies make a concerted effort to reduce the region’s food import bill by 25% by 2025.
The Forum also finalized the text of a regional policy document aimed at preventing Abandoned, Lost or otherwise Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG), and the CRFM’s collaboration with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative to address the problem, which adversely affects the marine environment and ecosystems. Efforts to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and transnational organized crime, which use fishing as a cover for illegal maritime activities, were also discussed. The Forum noted the contributions of the CRFM and Member States to an international effort to develop voluntary guidelines for transshipment, under the auspices of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Mrs. Nerissa Lucky, Director of Fisheries (A.G.), Trinidad and Tobago –
chair of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, 2023-2024 (Photo: CRFM)
For the past year, Suriname has served as Chair of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum. At the start of the Forum meeting, a new chair was elected, and Mr. Zojindra Arjune, Deputy Director of Fisheries, Suriname, handed over the leadership of the Forum to Mrs. Nerissa Lucky, Director of Fisheries (A.G.), Trinidad and Tobago. The Turks and Caicos Islands was elected as vice chair.
During its 21st Meeting, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum formulated a set of policy recommendations for action by the CRFM Ministerial Council, comprised of Ministers responsible for Fisheries and Aquaculture from the 17 CRFM Member States, when they meet near the end of April.
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Bridgetown, Barbados, 29 March 2023 (IICA): Fish processing establishments and fishers across the Caribbean now have access to a new online hub of fisheries food safety resources. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in partnership with the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) today announced the launch of the new Fisheries Food Safety Hub, developed with funding from the European Union (EU) under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Project.
“At the European Union, we view our environmental and health ambitions – set in the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy – as drivers for raising global standards through trade. Ensuring fisheries food safety is at the core of these standards, allowing not only for exports to the EU, but also within Caribbean countries. We therefore welcome the launch of the Fisheries Food Safety Hub which will serve as a learning platform for stakeholders and as a product of the longstanding partnership between the EU, IICA, and CRFM,” stated EU Ambassador, H.E. Malgorzata Wasilewska.
The purpose of the Fisheries Food Safety Hub is to increase accessibility to fisheries food safety compliance materials. It serves as the central access point for a wealth of food safety resources for the Caribbean, primarily developed under the 10th and 11th EDF SPS Measures Project. These include guides and manuals, training videos, infographics, and policy documents covering the entire fisheries value chain: pre-harvest, harvest, and post-harvest. The Hub also features resources developed through complementary initiatives to strengthen food safety in the region, including the Leadership Institute of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO).
IICA and the CRFM developed the Hub for stakeholders from both the public and private sectors in the fifteen CARIFORUM countries. The partners especially catered to the needs of fishers and fisher organizations, as well as aquaculture farmers, thereby expanding the reach of the project’s online platform to the agriculture, fisheries, and aquaculture sectors.
“Having ready access to current scientifically based information on a timely basis is fundamental for strengthening compliance with international Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and ultimately contributes towards improved market access and trade in the Caribbean Region. Hence IICA is very pleased to collaborate with the CRFM with funding from the European Union to develop this important information resource for the fisheries sector,” stated the Head of IICA’s Agricultural Health, Food Safety and Quality Programme, Dr Jose Urdaz.
Mr. Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism said: “The Fisheries Food Safety Hub is a very important development and will be beneficial to all our stakeholders in the CARIFORUM countries—from producers to consumers, as well as national and regional regulatory authorities with responsibility for ensuring safe and wholesome supplies of fish and fishery products to local markets, and for monitoring the implementation and compliance with trading measures and standards to promote sustainable trade. This is of particular importance given that food safety is of highest priority, especially in the context of expanding trade while also reaching the target of a 25% reduction in the Caribbean’s food import bill by 2025, as mandated by our Heads of Government."
Mr. Adrian LaRoda, Chair of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations, said: “The Hub itself will be very beneficial to the CNFO, as it is another platform for us, small-scale fishers, to be able to share our message... to reach a greater number of participants, particularly those who are not within the CNFO constituency.” Mr. LaRoda added that CNFO members will take advantage of the Fisheries Food Safety Hub, and they will continue to update the information from the CNFO Leadership Institute which is featured on the Hub, and to use the platform as a part of their ongoing efforts to strengthen the capacity of fishers in the Caribbean.
Mr. Udo Karg, the Acting Chair of the Suriname Seafood Association and CEO of Ocean Delight, underscored that food safety is the highest priority. One of Suriname’s export establishments, Ocean Delight, is featured on the Fisheries Food Safety Hub, as one of entities which received training under the 11th EDF SPS Measures Project. All the materials for that training are available for open access on the Fisheries Food Safety Hub. Mr. Karg also sees the Food Safety Hub as a marketing tool which demonstrates the work done in Suriname to ensure fisheries food safety, particularly for exporting to the EU.
Mr. Eardley Simmons, Managing Director of Bequia Seafood in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which has been in operation since October 2017, agreed that the Fisheries SPS Hub can be used as a tool to strengthen capacity in the fisheries sector. He said that they would greatly benefit if they could get assistance from another processing plant to train their workers, and this exchange could help them to improve their standards by learning from what other establishments have been doing to address their challenges. Bequia Seafood could, in turn, offer training to other establishments in the region.
The resources that are showcased on the Fisheries Food Safety Hub will help persons in the fisheries and aquaculture sector to strengthen their knowledge on food safety, and especially the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures that are important for trade within and outside of the Caribbean Region.
The Fisheries Food Safety Hub is linked with the e-Library of the project, available on edfspscariforum.online, which offers authoritative digital resources dedicated to stakeholders interested in Agricultural Health, Food Safety and Food Quality in the CARIFORUM region.
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Belize City, Wednesday, 22 March 2023 (CRFM)—High-level delegations from several Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will participate this week in the Blue Justice Conference 2023, billed by organizers as the largest global high-level event on transnational organised crime in the global fishing industry. The Blue Justice Caribbean Hub—to be housed in Jamaica—will also be launched at the high-level event.
Officials from twelve CRFM Member States—Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and The Turks and Caicos Islands—will be among the participants from approximately 80 countries and territories expected to attend the hybrid event, slated for 23-24 March 2023, in UN City, Copenhagen, Denmark.
The CRFM—the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) institution which leads the region’s efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and transnational organized crime in fishing industry—is among the partners joining the Government of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in convening the international conference.
Mr. Milton Haughton, CRFM Executive Director, will deliver official remarks at the Opening Ceremony on Thursday, 23 March, and will subsequently speak with Conference attendees about regional cooperation mechanisms in the Caribbean.
Haughton said: "The Blue Justice Initiative offers our countries significant opportunities to obtain intelligence, improve maritime domain awareness, access technical assistance, and strengthen national and regional capacities to better monitor and protect our marine resources and combat fisheries crimes, including illegal fishing. We are very grateful for the support being provided by the Blue Justice Initiative and the Government of Norway and other Nordic countries to support our countries in turning the tide against fisheries crime in the region and globally.”
Above, illegal catch confiscated from foreign vessels found fishing in Jamaica's waters
(Photos: National Fisheries Authority - Jamaica)
During the conference’s high-level session, delegates from several participating CRFM Member States will present their "Country insights". This segment of the conference will conclude with a discussion on governance and space technology in support of SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions).
Conference side events will be held on the Blue Enforcement Project (UNODC) - “Understanding gender roles in tackling crimes in the fisheries sector in Sri Lanka and Maldives”, and the Blue Fairness Project (ILO/UNODC/IOM) - “Using data to inform policies to combat trafficking for forced labour in fishing”.
The second day of the Blue Justice Conference, Friday, 24 March, is dedicated to the Blue Justice Action Forum. During that event, CRFM Member States will participate in a tabletop exercise.
The CRFM solidified its partnership with Norway and the Blue Justice Initiative in 2022, when 12 Member States signed the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (the Copenhagen Declaration) en bloc and pledged their support for the Blue Justice Initiative.
To date, fifty-one countries have signed the Copenhagen Declaration, and other countries have been invited to likewise sign the agreement at the upcoming conference and to join the Blue Justice Initiative. Dominica, a CRFM Member State, intends to sign the declaration at the event and join the global effort against transnational crime in the fishing industry.
VISIT BLUE JUSTICE CONFERENCE 2023 WEB PAGE
Belize City, Thursday, 19 January 2023 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has a new fisheries assessment scientist on its technical team. Dr. Pranaya Kumar Parida, who holds a Ph.D. in Fisheries Resource Management from India with more than 18 years of experience in Fisheries Research, Teaching and Extension, was recruited to assume a three-year tenure with the CRFM through the longstanding Cooperation Programme between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Government of India.
Dr. Parida will assist the CRFM and its Member States with fisheries assessment studies, statistical analyses of commercially exploited marine fish stocks, as well as the formulation of fisheries management plans and advice for decision-making. He will also provide training to Fisheries Biologists, Data Collectors, and Data Managers in CRFM Member States and at the CRFM Secretariat. He will be based at the CRFM Office located in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism said: “The recruitment of Dr. Parida to assist with stock assessment studies is expected to provide critical data and information on the state of our fisheries, enabling CRFM Member States to enhance the way they manage the region’s fisheries resources. Through this engagement, the CRFM will continue to work towards strategically improving the sustainable development and management of the living marine resources of the CARICOM and CRFM Member States. The CRFM Secretariat is very grateful for the generous support being provided by the Government of India in making the services of Dr. Parida available to the CRFM Member States.”
He is credited with the publication of more than 35 international peer-reviewed research papers, 10 popular articles, and 2 books. He has been awarded a design patent and has filed another 4 patents as co-inventor.
Dr. Parida previously served as Assistant Professor (Fisheries Resource Management) at College of Fisheries, GADVASU, Ludhiana. He has furthermore conducted over 50 training programmes for the farmers, students from different universities, and government officials from different states of India.
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In this edition of the management issue of the newsletter we highlight management related activities of the CRFM Secretariat, Member States and collaborating/partner organisations over the past 2 years. We utilise the form of newspaper-type (rather than scientific journal) articles to make the issue about what is happening in fisheries management in the region, presented as short interesting stories that are appealing and easy to read. In the masthead for the newsletter, the vessel under the "CRFM" logo is reminiscent of vessels used in at least one Member States of the western and eastern Caribbean, respectively. We have located the word “News” under the sunrise: sunrise is the dawn of a new day - and we see it as symbolizing “News".
We apologise for the hiatus since June 2020 and would like to thank the contributors who “stepped up to the plate” for this edition. In particular, those from outside the CRFM Secretariat team. In this latter regard, special mention must be made of contributors from Terrence Phillips, consultant; Vilhjálmur Hallgrímsson, Fisheries Technologies ehf, Iceland; Myles Phillips, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Belize; and Bryan Jordan, CCRIF-SPC intern. Thanks also go out to Bryan for his useful editorial insights into the penultimate draft.
This Newsletter is published by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Secretariat. The CRFM is an inter-governmental organisation whose mission is to “Promote and facilitate the responsible utilisation of the region’s fisheries and other aquatic resources for the economic and social benefits of the current and future population of the region”. The CRFM consists of three bodies – the Ministerial Council, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum and the CRFM Secretariat; and is the Competent Agency for implementation of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy.
CRFM members are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Here is a PDF version of the newsletter:
Belize City, Wednesday, 12 October 2022 (CRFM)—The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) held its 12th Special Meeting on Friday, 7 October 2022. The Council of Ministers, which is the chief policy and decision-making body of the CRFM, passed a series of resolutions to address key issues that affect sustainable use and management of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, and to strengthen the governance and administration of the CRFM.
During its 12th Special Meeting, the Ministerial Council passed a resolution on positioning small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the CARICOM regional blue economy dialogue and policies. The Council thereby approved a policy document aimed at improving and role of Small-scale Fisheries and Aquaculture in the Regional Blue Economy Dialogue. The document reflects the aspirations and ideals of the small-scale fishing communities and reaffirms the critical role of fisheries, and especially small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, in regional food security and nutrition, livelihoods, poverty eradication, trade, and contributing to blue economic growth in the region.
The Fisheries Ministers expressed their commitment to collaborating with all actors to create enabling conditions, implement targeted interventions and mainstream the inclusion of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the blue economy at the national and regional levels.
Photo courtesy CNFO - Fisher in Saint Lucia
The Council called upon CRFM Member States and all actors to utilize the CRFM guidance document in crafting policies, programmes, and plans to highlight the importance of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture to the blue economy. It furthermore urged Member States to promote and support small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the post-pandemic reconstruction of the countries to improve economic, social, and environmental resilience and self-reliance, and promote food security, safe and decent work, and the eradication of poverty in the region.
The Council also passed a resolution adopting the CNFO/CRFM Small-scale Fisheries Action Plan 2023-2025: Contributing to Achieving the 25% Reduction in the Caribbean Community Food Import Bill by 2025, developed through a collaborative effort between the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations (CNFO) representing the interests of small-scale fisherfolk in the Caribbean, and the CRFM.
The CRFM Ministerial Council also recognized the critical role of national fisherfolk organisations (NFOs) and other stakeholders in ensuring the successful implementation of the CNFO/CRFM Small-scale Fisheries Action Plan 2023-2025. It, therefore, called upon the Caribbean fisherfolk, and regional and international development partners, donors, private sector and community-based organisations to prioritize the implementation of the Action Plan, in collaboration with the CRFM Secretariat, to address the challenges of increasing fish and seafood production and availability in a sustainable manner while contributing to reducing the regional food import bill by 25% by 2025.
The Council urged the CNFO and the small-scale fisherfolk in the region to work along with the CRFM and the respective national authorities and institutions to enhance engagement across all CRFM Member States, and to utilize the CNFO Leadership Institute and communications tools to help bolster inclusion of fisherfolk at the national level.
The CRFM Ministerial Council passed a total of eight (8) resolutions during the 12th Special Meeting. Two key policies approved by the CRFM Ministerial Council are the CRFM Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Policy 2022 and the CRFM Personal Data Protection Policy 2022.
The Council passed a resolution approving the celebration of the CRFM’s 20th Anniversary starting January 2023, and issued a statement on the celebrations, which will showcase the vital contributions of fisheries and aquaculture to the regional and national economies, and to food and nutrition security, livelihoods, job creation, trade, and blue economic growth.
Finally, the Council passed a resolution addressing the proposals to list 91 species of fish and other marine living organisms on CITES Appendices I or II at the upcoming Conference of Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in November 2022.
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Over the past 20 years, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism has played a leading role in addressing fisheries issues and priorities on the international stage. Here, three CRFM policymakers (Ministers from Belize, Jamaica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) partnered with the Minister of Fisheries of Norway to boldly address the challenge of Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) Fishing and Transnational Organized Crime in the global fishing industry. The CRFM partnered with Norway in hosting a side event at the 2022 UN Ocean Conference. Photo: Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries
Belize City, Friday, 7 October 2022 (CRFM)—Fisheries Ministers from across Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) issued a formal statement at the end of their 12th Special Meeting held on Friday, 7 October 2022, announcing a year-long celebration in 2023, to observe the 20th Anniversary of the CRFM.
The celebration will showcase the vital contributions of fisheries and aquaculture to the regional and national economies, and to food and nutrition security, livelihoods, job creation, trade, and blue economic growth.
In their deliberations today, the Ministerial Council of the CRFM also took some important decisions to, among other things, advance small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the region, in collaboration with fisherfolk organizations as well as regional and international development partners and donors.
The full Ministerial Statement on the CRFM's Anniversary celebration appears below:
Friday, 7 October 2022
The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM)—comprised of Ministers responsible for Fisheries across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)—meeting at their 12th Special Meeting held on Friday, 7 October 2022, hereby declare that 2023 shall be observed and celebrated as the 20th Anniversary of the CRFM.
The Fisheries Ministers note that 2023 will mark 20 years since the CRFM was officially inaugurated as a specialized, inter-governmental CARICOM Regional Institution to “promote and facilitate the responsible utilization of the region's fisheries and other aquatic resources for the economic and social benefits of the current and future population of the region.”
In this regard, the Ministerial Council reaffirms its full support for the CRFM@20 Action Plan and calls upon the CRFM Secretariat, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the CARICOM Secretariat and our regional and international development partners and donors to support its implementation.
The Ministers note that the CRFM’s 20th Anniversary campaign will focus on the CRFM’s achievements over the past two decades and inspire a fresh vision for the future of the fisheries and aquaculture sector, while seizing new opportunities for maximizing the benefits of the Blue Economy for sustainable development of our countries and the welfare of our people.
The Fisheries Ministers underscore the important value of the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the regional and national economies of CARICOM, and the critical importance of its contributions towards achieving the mandate issued by the CARICOM Heads of Government at the Thirty-third Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference, to reduce the region’s food import bill by 25% by 2025.
The Ministers also emphasize the sector’s unique role in sustainably harnessing the vast and diverse wealth of the Blue Economy. This unparalleled value of the sector will be brought into focus during the CRFM’s Anniversary Celebrations, with special emphasis on sustainable livelihoods and employment, food security and nutrition, and domestic and foreign trade.
The Ministerial Council of the CRFM unreservedly reiterates its full support for all activities outlined in the CRFM@20 Action Plan, including the 3-day Scientific Conference and series of webinars on important topical issues on fisheries, aquaculture and blue economic growth which the CRFM will convene as a part of the CRFM’s 20th Anniversary celebrations, to highlight the scientific contributions of the CRFM, its Member States, and regional and international partners, to the advancement of the sector.
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"Climate change and ocean acidification pose significant threats to fish production on top of the many other pressures, such as overfishing, habitat degradation, pollution and invasive species—all undermining our food and nutrition security..."
-- Mr. Milton Haughton, CRFM Excecutive Director
Published Thursday, 4 August 2022 by the CRFM Secretariat
The Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Mr. Milton Haughton, has underscored the need for access to financing and technology in addressing the threats which climate change pose to Caribbean fisheries and aquaculture. In addressing the Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week 2022 (LACCW) side event in July on Anticipating climate risks and preventing disaster: climate resilient development pathways in Latin America and the Caribbean, he emphasized the need to build partnerships as well as capacity at the local and community levels. He also spoke of the need to pursue an integrated approach to implementing and mainstreaming the best practices developed over the years to improve resilience and empower coastal communities.
Mr. Haughton expressed concern that adverse climate change impacts will inevitably result in reduced availability of fish for local consumption and export—compounding the threats that already confront the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
"Climate change and ocean acidification pose significant threats to fish production on top of the many other pressures, such as overfishing, habitat degradation, pollution and invasive species—all undermining our food and nutrition security," he stated.
The CRFM Executive Director also stressed the need for CRFM Member States to take the whole-of-government approach, rather than a siloed approach to combating these myriad challenges and threats arising from climate change. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has placed a high priority on supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as disaster risk management across the Community. In this regard, in 2005, the CARICOM Heads of Government established the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). The CRFM maintains a close partnership with the CCCCC as well as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), in addressing adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management in the fisheries sector. Furthermore, the CRFM works closely with several other key partners, including Member States, donors, local civil society and NGOs, to develop and implement best practices.
In 2018, the CRFM’s policy-makers, the Ministerial Council, adopted the Protocol on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries and Aquaculture, an important protocol to the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP) which promotes cooperation and collaboration among Caribbean people, fishers and governments in conserving, managing, and sustainably using fisheries and related ecosystems, as well as improving the welfare and livelihood of fisherfolk in the region. Another key instrument is the CRFM’s Regional Strategy and Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries and Aquaculture (2020-2030) .
Mr. Haughton noted that at the national level, several CRFM Member States have developed climate change policies and strategies, providing a roadmap at the national level to address the problems arising from climate change.
Fisherfolk in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines received equipment obtained through the CRFM Secretariat under the CIF/IDB Pilot Program for Climate Resilience - Caribbean Regional Track.
He also highlighted several projects that the CRFM has been involved with, which address the issue of climate change. These include the Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector Project (CC4FISH) and the Caribbean Fisheries Co-management Project (CARIFICO), which promoted the development and deployment of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) capable of withstanding category 5 hurricanes, thereby reducing damaging impacts to the environment, including ghost fishing.
The CRFM was also integrally involved in the IDB Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) - Caribbean Regional Track, which was funded by the Climate Investment Fund (CIF). The CRFM Secretariat coordinated the marine sub-component of the Regional Project, which was executed by the Mona Office for Research and Innovation (MORI) at the University of West Indies, Jamaica. The CRFM coordinated the development and testing of the Fisher Early Warning and Emergency Response (FEWER) Moobile App in collaboration with UWI. The CRFM is partnering with CDEMA, in an effort to expand the reach and uptake of this tool and scale up its benefits across the region.
The CRFM’s collaborative work has extended to the mainstreaming of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF)—a very important parametric insurance arrangement to help counter the impacts of adverse weather events and other natural disasters affecting the fisheries sector—and the roll-out of the Caribbean Ocean and Aquaculture Sustainability Facility (COAST)–an innovative climate risk insurance mechanism to promote food security; livelihoods of fisherfolk; resilient fisheries; sustainable management of coastal infrastructure; and disaster risk reduction in the Caribbean.
The CRFM has also supported the expansion of the Caribbean’s Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) Network , through which stations have been installed in some Caribbean countries with support from the CCCCC.
The most recent initiative of the CRFM is being implemented in partnership with the Government of New Zealand through Plant and Food Research Limited. The Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience Project seeks to turn the large swaths of Sargassum seaweed that have been inundating Caribbean beaches and coastal waters annually since 2011, into commercially viable products that would provide new opportunities for enterprise, livelihoods, employment and economic growth.
To access the body of CRFM documentation on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, visit the CRFM Portal . You can also register to become a member of the portal.
#CaribbeanFisheries #climatechange #LACCW #CRFM
© 2022 Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
CRFM Member States highlight Caribbean Instruments and new Norway collaboration to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry
Published Thursday, 4 August 2022 by the CRFM Secretariat
Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported Fishing (also called IUU Fishing) has been on the radar of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and its seventeen (17) Member States for more than a decade. The commitment of the CRFM and its Member States to address this very challenging and persistent problem has been unwavering, and the timeline below features the major milestones attained over the past 12 years–the most recent of which is the CRFM’s support of the International Declaration against Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the Copenhagen Declaration) and the Norwegian supported Blue Justice Initiative.
These provide an international framework which complements the Caribbean framework, developed under the auspices of the CRFM, guided at the policy level by its Ministerial Council.
At a side event at the UN Ocean Conference, held in Lisbon, Portugal on 29 June 2022, the CRFM co-hosted a panel with the Blue Justice Secretariat, Norway and the Blue Justice Initiative on Caribbean and international efforts and mechanisms for combating IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry.
"It is a very difficult problem that requires enhanced regional and international cooperation and collaboration to effectively eradicate."
- Dr. Gavin Bellamy, CRFM Representative (Jamaica)
Dr. Gavin Bellamy, Chief Executive Officer, National Fisheries Authority, Government of Jamaica, affirmed that “...governments [in the Caribbean Community - CARICOM] have accorded high priority to combating fisheries crime in the region. It is a very difficult problem that requires enhanced regional and international cooperation and collaboration to effectively eradicate.”
Dr. Gavin Bellamy
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
He said that, “The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has been coordinating regional efforts to prevent, deter, and eradicate IUU fishing and crimes in the fisheries sector.” He added that despite the progress made, there was still a long way yet to go.
H.E. Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran, Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway, describes IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry as a threat to our common future. He cautioned that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be attained unless this problem is addressed.
"Through the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism in CARICOM, no less than 12 [Caribbean] countries have decided to join the [Copenhagen] Declaration… In May 2021, the Caribbean ministers started with a resolution endorsing the Copenhagen Declaration and pledging support for the Blue Justice Initiative as frameworks for regional and international cooperation to combat organized crime in the fishing industry,” H.E. Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran said.
H.E. Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
The Caribbean countries are among 48 signatories to the declaration, which was first endorsed in 2018. Since then, Norway–which hosts the secretariat for the Copenhagen Declaration and the Blue Justice Initiative–has led the charge in supporting international efforts to implement the declaration. Its partnership with the CRFM and its Member States took root at Our Ocean Conference in 2019–when the the Blue Justice Initiative was launched–and since then, the CRFM and Norway have continued to partner to address this global problem.
Map © 2022 CRFM
Mr. Gunnar A. Stølsvik
Mr. Gunnar A. Stølsvik, Specialist Director, Fisheries Department at the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, said that the Copenhagen Declaration is a political statement and not a legally binding instrument. He added that the declaration recognizes the relevance of the entire fisheries value chain: from capture, to handling and processing, through to sale and the financing of operations.
“To build a [sustainable] blue economy, you have to make sure that the shadow blue economy does not occupy too much of a big space in that economy,” he said.
FOCUS ON CARIBBEAN ACTION TO ADDRESS IUU FISHING AND ORGANISED CRIME IN THE FISHING SECTOR
"There is no simple, no single, no short-term solution to IUU fishing… or to the related organized crime and the networks focusing their commitment and efforts in keeping… the status quo,” said Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr, MP - Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, The Government of Jamaica. He added that successful responses will require a holistic and integrated approach where policies are linked to the drivers of IUU fishing.”
Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr, MP
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
Minister Charles proposed that Jamaica could serve as the regional Blue Justice hub for the Caribbean, and that the sub-regional office for the Blue Justice Initiative could be established in that country.
He said that support within the region and beyond is required to assure success, including independent action by States, bilateral action by adjacent states, and multilateral action by all parties involved in the fight.
The Minister outlined some key actions by Jamaica:
Minister Charles noted the devastating toll that IUU fishing has had on Jamaica, as well as the world. He said that the scourge of poaching, especially by foreigners, “has caused Jamaica billions of dollars in lost earnings and has prevented thousands of Jamaicans from accessing gainful employment.” He said that Jamaica has suffered annual losses of $6 million in direct export earnings and 5,500 jobs, which has had a multiplier effect on families. The country had put in place a 2-year moratorium on the Queen Conch fishery due to poaching, primarily foreigners.
According to Minister Charles, it is estimated that catches from IUU fishing constitute more than 30% of reported catches, but for some species, IUU fishing may account for up to 3 times the permitted amount.
"The devastating impact of IUU fishing results in overexploitation and the eventual collapse of important fisheries, thereby exacerbating poverty and threatening the livelihoods of the most vulnerable citizens in our country,” the Minister said.
Hon. Andre Perez - Minister of the Blue Economy & Civil Aviation, Government of Belize, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impacts on our economies and the increasing threats to our resources by climate change and climate variability make the fight against IUU fishing even more urgent and critical.”
Hon. Andre Perez
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
Minister Perez said that it is crucial to adopt new and modern tools in the monitoring and control of the region’s small-scale fishing fleet. He said that Belize–which up to 2022 had declared 11.3% of its marine space as no-take high biodiversity zones–is one of the few countries that are piloting the use of mobile transceivers on the fishing fleet as a means of combating IUU fishing.
He added that the Belize Fisheries Department and co-managers of marine protected areas had adopted the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) to enhance enforcement in national waters.
Other initiatives which the Belize Minister highlighted are:
Minister Perez said that the Copenhagen Declaration of 2018 complements the Castries (St. Lucia) Declaration on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, previously signed by members of the CRFM Ministerial Council back in 2010. He also noted other instruments to which Belize had ascribed, including the 2019-2021 Regional Plan of Action on IUU Fishing (RPOA-IUU) for countries that are members of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC), as well as the 2018 Strategy to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate IUU fishing in the territorial waters of the Central America region, formulated under the auspices of the Organization of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA). With respect to Belize’s recently enacted domestic fisheries legislation, Minister Perez said that in addition to including high fines and penalties intended to serve as a deterrent against IUU fishing, it also has provisions similar to the Lacey Act of the USA which sets out penalties for violations of laws in other states.
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
Our oceans have been a major crime scene… and we must pledge and recommit our efforts to act globally in solidarity, so that we can ensure that we bring an end to IUU fishing in our world,” said Hon. Saboto Caesar - Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry & Labour, Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Hon. Saboto Caesar
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
"I want to send a very clear message to every Member State of the United Nations: for meaningful change to take place, it first begins with a clear expression of the political will to bring about change, and sadly there are still some Member States of the United Nations that have not yet expressed that political will in a way that will benefit the thrust and the effort of others in the fight against IUU fishing,” Minister Caesar stated.
Measures highlighted include:
Minister Caesar stressed the need for resource mobilization to address IUU fishing and transnational organized crime. He said that bilateral and multilateral platforms and in-country budgets must be mobilized to address the matter.
CRFM MOVING AHEAD WITH ITS MANDATE
Dr. Emma Witbooi - Project Manager, Blue Resilience, The United Nations Development Program, reaffirmed their commitment and partnership. She noted that the UNDP has facilitated country-led Blue Action Dialogues which focus on fostering dialogue and cooperation between institutions and agencies that work to tackle fisheries crime.
Dr. Emma Witbooi
“We are delighted to be embarking on the process of working together with various CRFM and CARICOM Member States in initiating these dialogues,” said Dr. Witbooi, reiterating the gratitude of the UNDP for the very fruitful collaboration with the CRFM and CARICOM.
Mr. Joseph Cox, CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, lauded the efforts of the CRFM to synergize with the Government of Norway and other partners, through the Blue Justice Initiative to address the challenges arising from IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the industry. He noted that Article 60 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas–an article dedicated entirely to fisheries management–commits the Member States of the Community to collaborate with each other in the ongoing surveillance of their Exclusive Economic Zone.
Mr. Joseph Cox
To this end, the Caribbean Community has invested in institutions such as the CRFM and CARICOM IMPACS [The Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security] to both improve our collective management of our living marine resources and to bolster regional capacity in security matters,” Mr. Cox said.
“It is clear that a high level of commitment is present. CARICOM leaders have paved the [way] for effective cooperation, sustainable capacity building… in improving the safety of the Caribbean Sea, and the protection and safety of our hardworking fishers and our fisheries industries across Member States,” he added.
GALLERY ON YOUTUBE
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