BELIZE CITY, 3 APRIL 2020 (CRFM)—The vital need to enhance economic growth and sustainable development in the Caribbean by investing in the blue economy was the focus of a 2-day regional workshop held in Belize City, on 5-6 March 2020. The workshop was organized by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) in collaboration with the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to pave the way forward for a new US$46 million project titled, “Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities Through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus (BE: CLME+).” The CRFM, an inter-governmental CARICOM agency, is the executing agency for the 4-year project, which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with a grant of US$6.2 million and co-financing of US$40.1 million.
Government representatives from the six participating countries--Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama and Saint Lucia—attended the workshop, while other stakeholders participated remotely via tele-conference. Workshop participants are now working together with the CRFM and co-implementing agencies, CAF and FAO, supported by a consulting team of experts in marine spatial planning, marine protected areas, fisheries value chain and gender, to prepare the detailed project document and work plan. The workshop was also attended by representatives from several regional partners such as CERMES-UWI, SICA/OSPESCA from Central America, the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations and the UNDP/GEF CLME+ Project Coordinating Unit and CLME+ SAP Interim Coordination Mechanism.
“The BE: CLME+ project aims to overcome the barriers to achieving national, climate-resilient and sustainable fisheries in blue economies in the Caribbean,” Dr. Yvette Diei Ouadi, FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Officer and Secretary of Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission, said during the project’s Inception Workshop.
Dr. Lennox Gladden, Belize’s Chief Climate Change Officer, Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development, underscored the critical value of the BE: CLME+ project towards achieving sustainable economic development and improving resilience in the coastal zone, and the tourism and fisheries sectors, spurring vibrant growth and providing economic and social benefits to enhance the quality of life as envisaged in Belize’s national development policies and plans.
The project’s three components aim to ensure (i) cross-sectoral marine spatial planning; (iii) inclusive sustainable fisheries value chains; and (iii) regional coordination, project management and knowledge management. The intent is that by the end of the project, there would be marine spatial plans developed at both the regional and national levels, as well as blue economy strategies for the participating countries. Furthermore, the project will support the creation and expansion of areas that benefit from effective area-based management, such as marine management areas and marine protected areas that recognize the need for access from a range of stakeholders in a manner that reduces the risk of conflicts.
Mr. Milton Haughton, CRFM Executive Director, noted that, “Marine spatial planning is a tool to create and establish a more rational organization of the use of marine ecosystems and the interactions between their users and uses; to balance demands for economic growth and development with the need to protect the environment and to achieve social objectives in an open and planned way.”
The BE: CLME+ project is being designed by a team that is cognizant of the need for a participatory approach, sensitive to the challenges that now confront the region—ranging from climate change impacts, marine pollution and irresponsible fishing to the coronavirus COVID-19 disease. The team is committed to the need for social inclusion, participation of indigenous groups and gender mainstreaming.
Mrs. Luciana Fainstain, Executive of the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the Bank’s in-house Gender Specialist, acknowledged the need for the project to go beyond women’s issues, considering also the need to incorporate the new masculinities relevant to young men.
The project’s budget includes US$ 25 million in co-financing from the Development Bank of Latin America, to provide lines of credit through national financial institutions to support the development of fisheries value chains. In addition to marine spatial planning, another component of the project focuses on the development of sustainable seafood value chains, which could support innovations in utilizing current catches and discards to make more profitable products, ranging from consumer-friendly value-added seafood products for human consumption, to dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals and beauty products. The third project component focuses on knowledge management and dissemination of experiences and lessons learnt in support of the GEF-funded IW Learn Platform (https://iwlearn.net/) and CLME+ SAP.
The BE: CMLE+ participating countries are among the 32 countries and overseas territories that have endorsed the 10-year Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the sustainable management of shared Living Marine Resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+ region), which was developed under a previous GEF-funded project.
Mr. Haughton expressed gratitude to the countries and key partners which have been supporting the initiative and emphasized the need for continued strong partnerships and cooperation among all stakeholders in realizing the potential of the marine sector in the Caribbean.
“Every single part of the fish has a value…” says CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton
Caribbean takes first step to maximize value of fisheries and aquaculture sector
Belize City, Friday, 29 July 2016 (CRFM)—At a time when countries across the Caribbean region are faced with economic challenges, innovation in one of its prime sectors—the fisheries and aquaculture sector—can spur the kind of growth needed to help buttress the regional economy. However, this kind of change won’t come overnight. The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) is working with Member States from around the region, as they prepare to take the first steps in converting fish waste to fish wealth—a change which could multiply earnings from the sector.
“Going forward, we need to make the point that proper utilization of fishery resources is not about increasing production or increasing catches, it is more about maximizing value of what we are now taking and realizing the significant benefits that is possible by focusing on value addition,” said Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM.
Workshop participants from CRFM Member States in Suriname
Chief Fisheries Officers, Senior Fisheries Officers and private sector representatives from 17 CRFM Member States learned about the application of the value chain approach to the fisheries and aquaculture sector when they attended a weeklong workshop held in Suriname last week.
“The objective was really to introduce participants to the value chain approach in fisheries, and we did this in collaboration with development partners from Iceland and the Faculty of Food and Agriculture at the University of the West Indies (Dr. Sharon Hutchinson and Dr. Ardon Iton),” Haughton said.
Dadi Kristofersson and Thor Asgiersson , lecturers from UNU-FTP
Dadi Kristofersson, Ogmundur Knutsson and Thor Asgiersson, lecturers from United Nations University – Fisheries Training Program (UNU-FTP), based in Iceland, traveled to Suriname to help lead the training. They also took with them a range of products which Iceland makes from fish waste.
“Iceland has made tremendous advances in value addition in fishers and they are perhaps the world’s leaders,” the CRFM Executive Director said.
This success did not happen overnight—it arose out of a period of crisis, when the country was experiencing a decline in its fisheries after the 1960s. However, Haughton said, they were able to turn things around largely by applying the value chain approach to make better use of their resources—such as improving quality, making beauty products from fish guts and adopting a market-driven approach to fisheries. The Icelandic economy with a per capita GDP of about USD45,000, is driven largely by the fisheries sector.
“They are no longer going out to catch as much fish as they can, but they are trying to optimize the value, and satisfy the requirement of their markets” Haughton explained.
Applying the value chain approach begins with the simple things, starting with preparatory activities before the fishers go to sea, and then extending to harvesting, handling, processing, marketing and distribution.
“We can catch fish in such a way that we maximize value just by targeting ‘when, where, what size, etc.’ we catch based on market demand. Just by doing that you can improve value... In some cases, it’s just about maintaining the freshness and quality by improving the handling of the product,” the CRFM Executive Director explained.
Whereas Caribbean countries have plenty of fisheries resources, they also import a great deal, including items such as smoked salmon for the tourism industry. Countries like Suriname, the host country for the training, are exploring ways in which they can create viable local products to substitute for those imports. The fisheries experts who traveled to Suriname saw this firsthand, as they were offered smoked “bang-bang” (snapper)—a new local delicacy served right alongside the imported product.
Haughton explained why understanding the market demand is key for producers hoping to corner the market to maximize local gains.
“Think more about the consumer: What is it that the consumer really wants? What is it that the consumer will pay more money for? There would be a major change overall in the way fishers and processors conduct their operations if they were to focus more on the consumers,” he commented.
“The modern consumer, the housewives, are looking for specific products... They are looking for good nutrition, freshness, and easy-to-prepare meals. These are things that fishers and processers will need to be thinking about. And those who have thought through it, and who have structured their operations along these lines, are making great gains,” the CRFM Executive Director added.
He said that in the Caribbean region, fishers and fish processing facilities start with the catch: “Their starting point is to go and catch as much as they can and when the product is landed they try to figure out how to sell it but the value chain approach looks from the other end. It starts with the question: What is the market that I want to serve? Where is the best market? What form of product the market is demanding? Then you work back from the market to determine what fish you should target and you structure all of your activities to satisfy that market,” Haughton recommended.
The products pictured above include health supplements, beauty products, and leather
Some types of non-selective fishing results in a lot of waste in the fishing industry. Many operations, such as the shrimping in the southern Caribbean, will harvest large quantities of non-target species. Haughton explained that a lot of the non-target species or by-catch is discarded, since it is deemed to have low market value. However, using science, technology and good marketing these can be converted into useful products.
“I was in El Salvador recently and I was surprised to see that they were making cookies and meals for children from flour [derived] from fish that would normally be discarded,” Haughton revealed.
In other places, fish guts are used to make cosmetics and pharmaceuticals—very high end products—and increasingly, companies are using fish enzymes to make creams and lotions.
Haughton said that the CRFM and Member States need to do much to promote the value chain approach in fisheries and aquaculture. The CRFM intends to provide the institutional support, capacity building and awareness raising that is needed. In the months ahead, the CRFM will lead the development of more case studies to document success stories from which the region can learn. These reports would be made available to consumers as well as private sector stakeholders, who will be key in driving the process forward.
“They – the private sector—have to be key stakeholders and partners, and they have to be convinced that it makes sense,” Haughton said.
“There needs to be a free flow of information from consumers to harvesters, right through the chain, so people know what is happening and they can make good decisions. The need for free flow information is an important part of the transition towards the value chain approach in the region,” he added.
Haughton urges development partners in the fisheries sector, as well as training and research institutions, fish processing facilities and government ministries responsible for fisheries and trade, to work together to understand the challenges, remove the constraints and impediments, and provide incentives for development of the value chain in the fisheries sector in the regon.
“We have a long way to go but we have identified some potential fisheries and potential resources where we could begin to apply this approach,” Haughton said.