Belize City, Wednesday, 29 March 2017 (CRFM)—Heads of national fisheries authorities from 17 Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will be meeting with observers and partner agencies in Jamaica near the end of this week, for the 15th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the primary technical deliberative body of the CRFM, for talks on the status of and recent trends in the fisheries and aquaculture in the region and plans for the future to strengthen the sector.
Ahead of the opening the hurricane season in June, the Forum meeting—slated for Thursday, 30 March, and Friday, 31 March, at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston, Jamaica—will also address measures for adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management in fisheries.
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said: “Climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification and disaster risk management are major challenges facing the fisheries sector and the wider economies of our countries. These issues continue to be high priorities for policy-makers and stakeholders because we need to improve capacity, information base and policy, and institutional arrangements to respond to these threats and protect our future. At this meeting, we will be discussing the USA sponsored initiative to provide risk insurance for fishers, among other initiatives to improve and protect the fisheries sector and ensure food security.”
The Forum will also discuss steps to strengthen cooperation and coordination between fisheries and environment departments, as well as partner organizations, in order to strengthen the conservation of marine species and critical habitats to achieve international biodiversity targets.
Haughton notes that, “Working together to improve the health of the marine environment and protection of vulnerable marine species while improving sanitary and phyto-sanitary systems and quality of fish and seafood, will produce tangible social and economic benefits for fishers and fishing communities. It is time for stakeholders in the fisheries and environment sectors to start working in a more cooperative and constructive manner to address common challenges.”
The Forum will be updated on the progress of technical activities being undertaken by the CRFM, its Secretariat, Member States and network partners, after which it will prepare recommendations on the way forward to be tabled when Ministers responsible for fisheries meet on 19 May in Guyana.
Outgoing chairman, Denzil Roberts, Chief Fisheries Officer of Guyana, will demit office after his 12-month tenure. Participants in the upcoming Fisheries Forum will elect a new chair, vice-chair and executive committee members, who will serve for the programme year, 2017-2018.
ROSEAU, Dominica, April 23 (CRFM) – The future of the conch and lobster sector is being examined as the 12th meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum,the main technical and scientific decision-making bodyof the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), opened here Wednesday at the Fort Young Hotel.
Acting Permanent Secretary in Dominica’s Ministry of the Environment, Natural, Physical Planning and Fisheries, Harold Guiste, made special mention of the issue while presenting the feature address on behalf of the host nation.
Mr. Guiste said that amid systems put in place region-wide to monitor the harvesting of the delicacies, “it appears some countries are bent on wanting to exercise control over all the resources in the world.”
He further noted: “Globally we have noticed a rush to fish accompanied by a lack of responsible behaviour in the fishing sector. This type of hooligan behaviour has resulted in severe decline in some major fisheries of the world and collapse in some others.”
The senior ministry official called on the CRFM to work closely with its stakeholders and partners to safeguard against the depletion of the region’s already challenged resources.
The spiny lobster industry brings in about US$456 million per year to CARICOM producers but high demand has led to an unhealthy state of the stock.
The CRFM is also concerned that since 2012 an environmental NGO in the US has called for the queen conch, a delicacy and the largest mollusc fished commercially across the Caribbean to be listed as an endangered species in accordance with the US Endangered Species Act.
The protection of queen conch is already governed by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), whose guidelines CARICOM signatory nations follow scrupulously.
The matter has been taken to the Council for Trade and Economic Development COTED and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs in CRFM member countries.
In light of annual, substantial losses caused by Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishingthe Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy is also getting special attention at the meeting.
CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton said while regional governments have agreed to the policy, mandated by CARICOM close to a decade ago, it was not signed at the 25th Inter-Sessional meeting of CARICOM Heads recently held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The common fisheries policy would act as a treaty to guide sustainable contributions for regional development and food security, develop the scientific basis for decision-making, strengthen sanitary and phytosanitary systems and market research which could lead to improved access to overseas markets, through cooperation to increase the fish processing which offers value added products and create jobs.
“We have to strengthen our systems to ensure better conservation and resource management, especially of the resources that are our main commercial resources including lobster and queen conch etc. Long term sustainability is one of the key challenges facing the fisheries sector in the region s well as globally,” Haughton said.
Fourteen of the 17 member countries of the CRFM are present at this year’s meeting;absent are Barbados, Haiti and Suriname. Two observers, The Netherlands and Curacao, have expressed an interest in joining the Belize-based CRFM.
ABOUT THE CRFM
Based in Belize, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) was established in 2003. It is the core of a complex interactive network of a wide variety of stakeholders in fisheries. Three bodies together make up the Mechanism. These are: a ministerial body, a Fisheries Forum (the main technical and scientific decision-making body) and a Fisheries Technical Unit or Secretariat.
CRFM promotes the sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture resources in and among Member States, by developing, managing and conserving these resources in collaboration with stakeholders to benefit the people of the Caribbean region.
Its membership includes all CARICOM countries, as full members. Other countries and territories in the Caribbean may join the Mechanism as Associate Members.