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CRFM Executive Director speaking with Marianne Sivertsen Næss, Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy and Gunnar Stølsvik, Specialist Director at the Blue Justice Secretariat


In the photo above: Milton Haughton, CRFM Executive Director (left), with Gunnar Stølsvik, Specialist Director at the Blue Justice Secretariat (center), and Marianne Sivertsen Næss, Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy (right)

Photo credit: Peter A. Murray, CRFM


Oslofjord, Norway, 18 June 2024--The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and ten of its Member States–The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago– are attending the celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the Blue Justice Initiative, being held at the historical site Oscarsborg Fortress in the Oslofjord. CRFM Executive Director, Mr. Milton Haughton, and CRFM Advisor - Fisheries Management and Development, Mr. Peter A. Murray, were among the 130 people who joined Norwegian partners at the event.

In 2018, nine countries came together in Copenhagen, Denmark, to create the Declaration against transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry, known as the Copenhagen Declaration. In 2019, Norway, as the custodian of the Copenhagen Declaration, established the Blue Justice Initiative to assist States attain their aspirations.

In May 2021, the CRFM Ministerial Council at its 15th Regular Meeting adopted the Resolution Regarding the Copenhagen Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry and the Blue Justice Initiative. Since then, 14 CRFM Member States have signed on to the declaration.

Several speakers addressed the gathering at the opening ceremony. Speaking on “Ocean on Norwegian Foreign Policy and Development Cooperation”, Trond Gabrielsen, Director, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that in 2019, Norway launched the Blue Justice Initiative to assist countries with implementing the Copenhagen Declaration. He noted that initially there was only 9 signatories, but today there are over 60 signatories.

Karianne Moen, Head of Section of crime prevention, Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, presented “A public administration perspective,” highlighting the need to develop a deeper understanding of other crimes related to the fisheries sector as well as the actions needed to combat illegal activities, including the formulation of international accords, intelligence sharing, and the use of technology to identify and track vessels utilized in illegal fishing and transnational organized crime in the sector.

In sharing “A global fisherman’s perspective,” Sverre Johansen, General Secretary, Norwegian Fisherman Association, underscored that for the majority of fishers who are operating legally, it is important to maintain their ability to compete and to secure their future business. He added that transnational organized crime has a severe effect on the economy, distorts markets, harms the environment, devastates consumer trust, and destroys business.

“How can learning institutions support Blue Justice,” Stig Jarle Hansen, Professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, said that the efforts need to be global, intersectoral, and interdisciplinary.

Arve Dimmen, Director Navigation Technology and Maritime, Norwegian Coastal Administration, pointed to the critical importance of interagency collaboration and coordination to leverage the analytical insights derived from satellite and AIS frameworks. She spoke of “The importance of maritime surveillance,” for regulating and monitoring maritime traffic.

Norway's deployment of satellites and antennae networks across 30 locations was noted by Maja-Stina Ekstedt, Vice President Sustainability, KSAT, President NIFRO, among “The technological contribution to solutions.” She emphasized the need for cooperation across jurisdictions, to enhance monitoring of activities across ocean spaces using all available tools.


From the left: Tor Glistrup - Consultant Fisheries Inspector; Fatou Bensouda - Gambian Ambassador to Norway; Henrik Fredborg Larsen - Director UNDP Nordic Representation Office; Bjørg Sandkjær - Norwegian State Secretary for the Minister of International Development; Gunnar Stølsvik - Sekretariat of Blue Justice; Delores Kotze - South African Ambassador to Norway; Nina Vaaja - Director of Barents Watch. (Photo: Peter A Murray, CRFM)


Speaking at the subsequent Launch of the Global Investigative Ship Tracking User Portal (GLISTRUP), CRFM Executive Director, Mr. Milton Haughton, emphasized the need for urgent, enhanced, concerted measures to prevent, deter, and eliminate all forms of fisheries crimes.

"Fisheries crimes undermine the significant sacrifice that our countries and our law-abiding fishers make in order to conserve and protect the fish stocks and the marine ecosystem. In these difficult times, characterized by high levels of unemployment, high and rising import bills, growing food and nutrition insecurity, rising crime and social ills, as well as the enormous challenges brought on us by the negative impacts of climate change and ocean acidification we just continue to allow our fisheries and ocean resources to be plundered and destroyed, our conservation and management measures to be undermined, and the future of our countries and indeed our children damaged by fisheries crimes," Haughton said.

In October 2021, twelve CRFM Member States signed the Declaration together. Those Member States are The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, The Turks and Caicos Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago. Several of those Ministers participated in the Blue Justice Conference 2023, held 23-24 March 2023 in UN City, Copenhagen, Denmark. On that occasion, two more CRFM Member States—Barbados and Dominica—became signatories to the international declaration.


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Video of the Celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the Blue Justice Initiative and the Launch of the Global Investigative Ship Tracking User Portal (GLISTRUP)

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Belize City, Tuesday, 28 September 2021 (CRFM)— Caribbean Ministers responsible for Fisheries and Blue Economic Growth are scheduled to meet in conference on Monday, 4 October 2021, with representatives from the Government of Norway, the CARICOM Secretariat, and other regional and international development partners. The purpose of the conference, which will be convened virtually by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) is to take decisive action to strengthen regional and international cooperation at the political level to combat and eradicate the scourge of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and transnational organized crime in the fisheries sector.

Some Ministers will deliver brief statements on the issues and then sign the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry, which has already been adopted by 36 other countries. The Caribbean Ministers will set the stage for future action across the region, in collaboration with the Blue Justice Initiative, launched by the Norwegian Government in 2019, in support of the Copenhagen Declaration. The Copenhagen Declaration and the Blue Justice Initiative provide a non-binding international framework for cooperation among States to prevent, combat and eradicate transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry.

Hon. Saboto S. Caesar, Chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council, and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labor, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, will preside over the Ministerial meeting. Minister Caesar said: “Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing is a major threat to the fisheries resources of the Caribbean Region. It undermines regional and national efforts to sustainably use, manage and protect fish stocks, leading to the loss of both short and long-term social and economic opportunities—including food security, livelihoods, exports and the realization of sustainable and inclusive blue economic growth in the region.”

Mr. Milton Haughton, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism said: “The growing connection between illegal, unreported and unregulated (or IUU) fishing and transnational organized criminal activities—such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking, trade in contraband goods, tax crimes, and money laundering, which use fishing as a cover—is an area of increasing concern.”

On 10 December 2020, several Ministers responsible for Fisheries from the CARICOM / CRFM Member States participated in a virtual High-Level International Blue Justice Conference that was convened by the Government of Norway. Subsequently, in May 2021, the 15th Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM, issued Resolution No. MC 15(6) of 2021 expressing support for the Copenhagen Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry and the Blue Justice Initiative. The Ministerial Council outlined the next steps, which include the upcoming high-level, virtual ministerial conference.

Following this Ministerial meeting, the CRFM plans to convene, in collaboration with UNDP, a regional technical meeting with fisheries and security officials from Member States, to map out specific needs and to agree on at least one high-priority intervention that will benefit all CRFM Member States and that could be supported under the Blue Justice Initiative.

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Note to Editors:

Further information on the Ministerial Meeting is available on the CRFM’s website here. Download a PDF copy of this press release here.

The Ministerial Meeting on the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Transnational Organized Crime is one of a series of Ministerial meetings which will be held during the 16th celebration of Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which will be observed virtually for the first time during the week of 4-8 October 2021, under the theme: “Transforming our Food Systems”. The CRFM will also convene the 11th Special Meeting of the Ministerial Council on Monday afternoon.

Later in the week, the CRFM will participate in several webinars being hosted during Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which takes place under the aegis of the Alliance for Sustainable Development of Agriculture and the Rural Milieu, of which the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat is a member.


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