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BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, 30 June 2016--The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) joined in the celebration of fishers across the Caribbean on Wednesday, June 29, 2016, and particularly in festivities held in Belize, where the CRFM's headquarters in located, and where June is being observed as Fisherfolk Month for the first time.

Speaking at ceremonies held on Wednesday morning, June 29--marked regionally and internationally as Fisherfolk Day, to recognize three outstanding fishers--Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM, said: "Fishery and by extension, our fisherfolk, have always been a big part of Caribbean economies. This is why today is such as special day on the calendar of fisherfolk in the region and globally."

Haugnton handed over a check for $200 to Cesar Muñoz, a fisherman of Sarteneja Village, Corozal, in northern Belize, who was chosen as Fisher of the Year in Belize for his notable contributions in promoting sustainable fishing practices.

The annual Punta Fuego Awards are organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society in Belize, in partnership with the CRFM, the Belize Fisheries Department, the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations and The Nature Conservancy.

Guadalupe Lampella of Riversdale in southern Belize, the sister of last year's Fisher of the Year, Anna Ramirez, was also recognized as an outstanding fisher at the event. So too was Juan Muñoz, a relative of this year’s winning fisher, who also hails from Sarteneja.

"It is a time to reflect upon, acknowledge and recognize the very important contribution that fishermen and fisherwomen make to the social and economic development of Belize and the CARICOM countries," Haughton said.

He noted that for this year's international celebration of fishers, the United Nations Food and Agriculture agreed to focus on “Securing fishers’ rights and livelihoods with the small-scale Fisheries Guidelines.”

"The subject of understanding, securing and respecting the right of small-scale fishers is an important issue. In many countries small-scale fisheries have been marginalized and displaced and find themselves in conflict with a wide variety of interest groups and investors who are competing for access to resources used by fishers," Haughton added.

The CRFM Executive Director emphasized that, "The time has come when we as a region must give more serious attention to the needs of our small-scale fishers, who often work under difficult circumstances and have been making such an important contribution to food and nutrition security, and who provide for their families and communities."

Haughton pledged the continued support of the CRFM for fishers in Belize, as well as its 16 other Member States across the Caribbean.

"We at the CRFM look forward to working closely with the fisherfolk and all other partners to secure the rights and livelihoods of fisheries in Belize and throughout the CARICOM region through the FAO Small-scale Fisheries Guidelines," he said.

In concluding, Haughton acknowledged the hard work of fishers all across the Caribbean, adding that the CRFM "acknowledges, recognizes and commends the strong, hardworking, dedicated fishermen and fishermen and other fishworkers as well as their families."


The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will be hosting the 10th Meeting of its Ministerial Council next Wednesday, in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The CRFM Ministerial Council, which is comprised of ministers from 17 Member States responsible for fisheries, aquaculture and/or agriculture, is convening for an update on technical activities undertaken by the CRFM, as well as for policy direction and guidance on the way forward, in achieving the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture in the Caribbean region.

On the occasion of the meeting, the chairmanship of the Council will be handed over from Grenada to Jamaica.  A vice chair will also be selected.

The outgoing chairman is Roland Bhola, Minister of agriculture, lands, forestry, fisheries and the environment of Grenada.


In celebration of Caribbean Fisherfolk Day, which will be observed on June 29 across the region, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) in collaboration with the United Nations FAO, is making this brochure on the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines available to fisheries stakeholders across the region.

Speaking at the launch of Fisherfolk Month in Belize City this morning, the CRFM's Executive Director, Milton Haughton, says: "This is the first international policy agreement dedicated to improving the livelihoods of small-scale fishers globally."

Here is an electronic version of the document.

Click the document to navigate in a pop-up screen:

See link below social icons to download a PDF copy.

Friday, 27 May 2016 16:15

CRFM launches cost of fishing study


Claudia Stella Beltrán Turriago, the economist who has been engaged by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) to lead a new study to look at the impacts of rising cost factors of fishing operations, such as labor, fuel, fishing gear, repair and maintenance, and capital, completed the first leg of field work in Belize today.

While in Belize, she had a chance to conduct surveys with fishers from various communities around the country. The Belize Fisheries Department assited with surveys in more remote parts of the country, such as the far north and the far south. It is expected that the Belize survey will have canvassed fishers from as far noth as Chunox, Corozal, to as far south as Punta Gorda, Toledo.

After leaving Belize today, Claudia returns home for a few weeks before moving on to Suriname and Barbados for more fieldwork. Finally, she will move on to St. Kitts and Nevis and to St. Vincent and the Grenadies.

Remote surveys will also be conducted in Guyana, Grenada, Colombia and Trinidad and Tobago.

The consultant told the CRFM that her visit to Belize was "very successful."

After the study is completed, a policy brief will be prepared for action by Caribbean leaders. The brief will highlight the major findings and recommendations, including policy options and strategies to increase efficiency, productivity and sustainability of the fisheries and aquaculture sector, while reducing economic risks.

The beneficiary countries are the 17 states which are members of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, as well as countries covered by a UN/FAO project on the Sustainable Management of Bycatch in Trawl Fishing in Latin America and the Caribbean (the REBYC-II LAC), funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).


Belize City, Friday, 27 May 2016 (CRFM)—Officials from the Caribbean Community and the United States advanced talks in Washington last week at the 7th Annual Meeting of the CARICOM-US Trade and Investment Council, on several key concerns affecting trade between the US and the region, chief among then being the treat of a lawsuit by US-based NGOs over the harvesting of queen conch for trade. The threat of suit is of great concern to the region, which exports roughly US$185 million worth of conch meat a year to the US.

In February 2016, WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals notified the Secretary of Commerce and the Administrator of NOAA of their intention to sue the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service / NOAA Fisheries, and their officers and directors over the Government’s decision back in 2014 not to list the queen conch as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), which was represented at the meeting by its executive director, Milton Haughton, maintained that the petition is unjustified, as it is based on outdated and erroneous information. A listing that the species is endangered would result in an outright ban, while a listing that it is threatened would lead to more stringent export regulations, among other measures.

The NGO which wants to challenge the decision of the US federal authorities is reputed to have a 77% success rate in lawsuits against the US Government. In studying the impact of litigation by the NGO, US researchers, Dr. Ryan M. Yonk of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at the Southern Utah University and Dr. Randy T. Simmons of the Department of Economics and Finance at Utah State University, found that the litigation, which has mostly been over land issues in the US, could jeopardize industries representing over US$3 billion in local economies. However, US authorities have indicated that they will defend their position on the queen conch. CARICOM States will, meanwhile, be monitoring this situation closely.

At the Washington meeting, the parties also discussed US measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and their potential impact on our region. A Presidential Task Force was established two years ago to develop recommendations for “a Comprehensive Framework to Combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud.”

CARICOM notes that the new measures being introduced to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud could have significant negative consequences for the export of fish and seafood from CARICOM to the US market, since importers in the USA and by extension exporters from CARICOM countries targeting the US market, would be required to implement administrative systems to certify that fish and fishery products entering the US market are not from IUU sources.

However, the measures being implemented by the United States could also create opportunities for fish and fish products exported from the region, by reducing the occurrence of IUU fishing in our region by third States and unfair competition.

In the recent meeting, CARICOM officials laid out both their concerns and expectations to the US representatives, including the need for support for fish traders and Government Fisheries departments so that they could make the necessary reforms to comply with the new US requirements for international trade.


Rainforest Seafoods is a leading Caribbean producer and exporter based in Jamaica, with operations in Belize. It exports safe seafood to the EU. (Photo: Rainforest Seafoods)


Belize City, Friday, 27 May 2016 (CRFM)—Caribbean economies are poised to benefit from a region-wide initiative to expand seafood market share, through the implementation of food safety measures to enable countries to get a bigger piece of the global pie, worth an estimated US$130 billion annually. Caribbean countries, including the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, are now capitalizing on a coordinated approach to broaden the gateway to the growing market. CARIFORUM (CARICOM and the Dominican Republic) now exports about US$400 million worth of fish and seafood annually.

Belize and Jamaica are two Caribbean seafood exporters already tapping into markets controlled by the European Union (EU)—a tough market to access because of stringent standards which require that countries have systems in place to ensure that their exports are not only safe for consumption but also free from harmful pests and pathogens.

In the case of Belize, which has traditionally exported shrimp to the EU, it is moving to export conch to that market for the first time in 2016, according to Endhir Sosa, Senior Food Safety Inspector, Belize.

Sosa was among the eighteen professionals from CARIFORUM who recently received management training on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) in Iceland. The training was offered under the capacity-building component of an EU-sponsored project to implement SPS Measures under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) regime. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) are collaborating to implement the fisheries component of the project.


Demystifying SPS

Sosa broke down the meaning of this very technical term, which could just as well be the acronym for ‘safe and profitable seafood’: “In a nutshell, it’s just a series of procedures, of guidelines, of requirements, that one needs to implement to basically prove that what they are producing is safe,” the food safety expert commented.

“Confidence is what is key! It is what everybody seeks when it comes to the purchase and consumption of food products,” he said, adding that, “SPS is one of those routes where you can establish that confidence in your product.”

BAHA monitors seafood processing plants

BAHA monitors seafood processed for trade (Photo: BAHA)


Sosa notes that, “Once you have an established SPS system in place and it is vetted and it’s shown to be functional, that will open markets locally, regionally and internationally."

This has been the case for Belize: “When BAHA [the Belize Agricultural Health Authority] first started in 2000, you could count the number of countries we were exporting to on your hand. It wasn’t more than 5 to 7. Today, thanks to SPS, thanks to the confidence that our SPS program has put into our products, not only fish, the markets have increased almost three-fold. Now we have a little over 30 markets,” Sosa said.


Building SPS capacity

Chairman of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, Denzil Roberts, who is also the Chief Fisheries Officer in Guyana, notes that: “The fisheries sector within the CARIFORUM region continues to play an important role in rural development, food and nutrition security, income generation and foreign exchange earnings. However, it must be recognized that there is a paucity of skilled personnel within the region to further develop the sector in keeping with the emerging challenges.”

The intensive two-week training course recently held in Iceland served to help fill this knowledge gap in the Caribbean.

Susan Singh-Renton, the CRFM’s Deputy Executive Director, notes that, “The CRFM/UNU-FTP SPS Management Course has been very successful in achieving its objective of exposing CARIFORUM Fisheries and Agricultural Health and Food Safety experts to the key lessons and best practices of the Icelandic fishing industry in producing safe and wholesome fishery products of an international standard.”

trainees in wrap up

Thor Asgeirsson, Deputy Programme Director at UNU-FTP,  talks with CARIFORUM SPS professionals in wrap-up session (Photo: CRFM)


She added that, “At the close of the course, participants reflected on and also documented how they would apply what they had learned to improve fisheries SPS management in their home countries.”

Jeannette Mateo, Director of Fisheries Resources at the Dominican Council for Fisheries and Aquaculture (CODOPESCA) in the Dominican Republic, suggested that nationals in her country, such as biologists, inspectors, fisheries officers and consumer protection agents, should be trained in basic concepts of SPS.

For his part, Roberts hopes that the trainees will immediately begin to impart what they have learned to others in their national networks. Roberts furthermore hopes that trainees will implement internationally recognized safety standards for seafood, thereby safeguarding the health of the local population while ensuring market access to meet global market demands.

Singh-Renton said that the CRFM will also strive to do its part to provide follow-up regional support for improved SPS management for the region's fishing industries, including facilitating continued networking among the course participants.

Gatekeepers fight against food fraud

One of the more frequent but often overlooked problems within the Caribbean is food fraud and mislabeling,” notes Dr. Wintorph Marsden, Senior Veterinary Officer in Jamaica’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

Marsden said that Jamaica is considered a major transshipment hub for fish and fishery products to the wider Caribbean region, and so the burden is on Jamaica, as a first point of entry, to implement a system of verification of products entering its food chain.

To combat food fraud, it is an absolute necessity to introduce traceability, said Marsden. This can now be done electronically, with modern systems of recording, such as the use barcodes, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and other tracking media within the production chain.

In the Dominican Republic, Mateo’s job is to review all the supporting documentation for seafood imports and exports. She has observed, though, that, “Some of these documents might have statements to make the consumers believe that they are getting a high-quality product while they are actually getting products with less quality and deliberate mislabeling.”

An example, she said, is fish from the genus Pangasius, a catfish primarily sourced from the Asian market, which is being sold cheaply in the region and marketed at times as “grouper”—not only at supermarkets but also at some restaurants.


Pangasius sometimes passed off as grouper in Caribbean

Vietnam catfish often passed off as grouper in the Caribbean (Photo: VASEP)


“While in Iceland, I learned that deliberate mislabeling of food, the substitution of products with cheaper alternatives, and false statements about the origin of foods, are all food fraud,” Mateo said.

“This is relevant to the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean, where imported fish are in some cases marketed at lower prices than the local ones, not only due to the lower production cost of fish products such as tilapia and Pangasius (catfish – sold as ‘basa’ or ‘swai’) in comparison with those produced in the country, but also because of unfair practices in trade,” Mateo said.

She said that as a result of the Iceland training, the Dominican Republic is now in the final stage of building an improved national SPS system for fishery and aquaculture products which was initiated with the support of the government of Chile.


Safe and healthy food also vital at home


local seafood

Buyers opt for local snapper or imported seafood from the same freezer at a Belize supermarket (Photo: CRFM)


Whereas the move to implement SPS measures was originally focused on export trade, regional experts also indicate that they are vital to food safety and health even within our region.

“The Caribbean is known to be a huge importer of food products,” Sosa noted. “We have to look after our population, we have to look after the health of our people, we have to look after the health of our environment and our agricultural products; and thus SPS—although at this point it is mostly the industrialized countries that are pushing it, that are requiring it—should be really and truly across the board.”

Science-based risk assessment and risk analysis of imports are also key in protecting vital agriculture and fisheries industries.

“We have been mandated with the task of being the gatekeepers when it comes to food safety and agricultural health and we take that responsibility very seriously. Sometimes the public will get angry with us, because they truly don’t understand why we are doing this. ‘Why can’t I bring this across the border?’ But the realization is that if a disease [is introduced], it could potentially destroy an entire industry—whether it be, for example, bringing across poultry with avian influenza, or bringing in diseased shrimp—it could wipe out an entire multi-million-dollar industry,” Sosa warned.


Positioning small producers for export


Grenada fish bacon for export


Southern Fishermen's Cooperative in Grenada adds value to fish to produce smoked bacon for export to regional and international markets (Photo: CRFM)


Sosa noted that SPS measures were initially geared towards industrial markets but now they are encouraging small producers to position themselves for export by implementing SPS Measures.

“They might not have the finance to construct an elaborate facility, but we can start with the basics,” said Sosa, pointing to “good manufacturing practices and the sanitation standard operating procedures,” which, he said, would build confidence in products from even small producers.

More importantly, he said, implementing SPS measures is the first step that producers will need to make to even think about trading on the world market.



You may access the VIMEO version of the video here.

Belize City, Tuesday, 17 May 2016 (CRFM)— Peter A. Murray, Programme Manager for Fisheries Management and Development at the Secretariat of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), represented the region at an international seminar on Oceans Economy and Trade: Sustainable Fisheries, Transport and Tourism, held in Geneva from 10- 12 May 2016.

Murray, who was one of over seventy registered participants drawn from all three sectors, presented a paper on the linkages between fisheries, tourism and transport in the Caribbean. Murray’s paper also highlighted the results of a recently completed suite of case studies on the linkages between fisheries and tourism in CRFM Member Countries.

The presentation furthermore recognised the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy as a directional tool to encourage further development of those linkages.

The international seminar on Oceans Economy and Trade aimed to increase the understanding of the concept of oceans economy and its close link with trade. It also aimed to examine how international trade in goods and services (as mediated by internationally agreed rules, regulations and trade policies) can better support the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) exclusively dedicated to the oceans: SDG 14, and other related goals. SDG 14 commits UN Member States “to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”

Another objective of the seminar was to underscore the strong inter-sectoral interdependencies of ocean-based sectors and related implications for strategically coordinated policies.

The oceans economy is touted as a vehicle for “greener” or more sustainable and inclusive economic paths on the marine and coastal front. Trade in marine products and services can create opportunities for economic growth, export diversification and new investments. Major trade sectors where opportunities already exist or could be expanded in the near future include sustainable fishing and aquaculture, sustainable and resilient marine transport and logistical services, and linkages with maritime and coastal tourism.




Belize City, Thursday, 5 May 2016 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) is convening a meeting of fisheries experts to chart the course for a new study to look at the impacts of rising cost factors of fishing operations, such as labor, fuel, fishing gear, repair and maintenance, and capital.

The expert working group, which meets in Bridgetown, Barbados today, Thursday, 5 May and tomorrow, Friday, 6 May 2016, will include fisheries experts from CRFM Member States, the CRFM Secretariat, the private sector and the UN FAO, the partner agency for the initiative.

The consultant for the project, Claudia Stella Beltrán Turriago, an economist, will join the experts in Barbados, as they agree on the best methodology to carry out the study. They will also select beneficiary countries which will be targeted for fieldwork and remote surveys, which will entail surveys of small-scale and industrial fishers, suppliers, traders and exporters. 

After the study is completed, a policy brief will be prepared for action by Caribbean leaders. The brief will highlight the major findings and recommendations, including policy options and strategies to increase efficiency, productivity and sustainability of the fisheries and aquaculture sector, while reducing economic risks.


Total Fishing Cost Rev copy


Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM, notes that, “This study should help fishers and fishing companies to improve profits and income. It is one of the many initiatives being pursued by the CRFM Member States to improve food security. We hope it will also transform, reposition and improve economic and ecological resilience in the fisheries sector, in response to climate change and in keeping with our commitments under the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy.”

The beneficiary countries are the 17 states which are members of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, as well as countries covered by a UN/FAO project on the Sustainable Management of Bycatch in Trawl Fishing in Latin America and the Caribbean (the REBYC-II LAC), funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The Caribbean region is very susceptible to fluctuations in world food prices due to high dependence on imported products. The region’s food security is furthermore threatened by the adverse impacts of climate change and climate variability, which exacerbate droughts and floods in major agriculture producing nations, and which are also affecting the region’s coastal and marine ecosystems, like coral reefs, and our fisheries.

In highlighting the need for the study, the CRFM notes that, “Member States need to guard against future economic shocks, such as spikes in fuel prices and other inputs; reduce economic risks; modernize with a view to improving the efficiency of the region’s fishing fleets; reduce barriers to accessing new markets; and address price fluctuations for commercially important species by promoting and developing value-added products.”


Belize City, Monday, 2 May 2016 (CRFM)—Caribbean countries have a living bank of marine resources from which they collectively cash out hundreds of millions of dollars a year to support emerging national economies by providing good jobs, food and foreign exchange, among other benefits. However, in order to remain active and competitive in the global marketplace, countries have had to find ways to surmount the challenges posed by stringent international standards called sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, for food safety and for protection against diseases carried animals and plants.

Photo 3 
Business network leader tells trainees about approaches for innovation and creation of new products
Under an EU-funded SPS Measures Project, the ability of Caribbean countries to effectively address those challenges is being strengthened through initiatives such as specialized training for those gatekeepers who help to ensure the safety of both imported and exported foods.
Text Box - About SPS projectThe project has reached a new milestone, as a group of professionals from CARIFORUM States—the countries which make up the Caribbean Community, as well as the Dominican Republic—has just concluded The Sanitary and Phytosanitary Management Course. The intensive two-week training, held at the United Nations University – Fisheries Training Programme (UNU-FTP) in Reykjavik, Iceland, was organized under the capacity building component of the project.
“I am very pleased that the 18 senior officials from our Member States were able to participate in this important training opportunity to strengthen public sector capacities to effectively manage sanitary and phytosanitary systems for fish and seafood,” said Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the agency coordinating the fisheries sub-component of the project.
“Developing SPS capacities is just a part of our overall strategy for improving competitiveness, adding value and building resilience to climate change, while addressing supply chain challenges facing the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in our countries,” Haughton added.
Susan Singh-Renton, the CRFM’s Deputy Director, who accompanied the trainees in Iceland, said: “Being onsite in Iceland over the past two weeks, participants were able to visit and speak directly with industry operators involved in fish handling and processing, virtual fish sale auctions, marketing, aquaculture, food safety research, technology development, and business networking for the creation of new products ranging from fashion leather to products for cosmetic and medical purposes. Not surprisingly, many industry operators emphasized that sustainable management of the natural fish resource was at the heart of Iceland's fishing industry development and SPS success story. Linked to this, discipline and dedication were evident at all levels of Iceland's fishing industry operations.”
Endhir Sosa, Senior Food Safety Inspector at the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), participated in the SPS Management Course in Iceland. What he has learned from the Icelandic experience is that “[the] focus on improving food safety and quality along the entire food chain has led to an increase in the value of primary [export] products.”
Furthermore, collaboration between industry, government and academia, working hand in hand, has helped to ensure safe and high quality seafood products, he added.
“By all reports, the volume of the Icelandic catch has decreased throughout the years, in some cases by a half, but the value of exports has tripled,” Sosa noted.
The Senior Food Safety Inspector also detailed the knowledge he acquired to help ensure international SPS and food safety standards, not only for the exportation of Belize seafood but also for the importation of fish products, as well as inputs needed for the fisheries and aquaculture enterprises.
He said that three things caught his attention: The first is the ability to now trace products electronically rather than on paper. Integrating that modern technology, he said, “allows for a much more complete, accurate and faster trace of any fishery product.”
The second take-home message is about food fraud, which he said is important in an economy where direct sales of fish, especially fish fillets, have been established between fisherfolk and consumers, particularly in the tourism sector.
“Furthermore, Belize is a volume importer of foodstuff and in many cases [the labels are] in languages not our own, which makes us vulnerable to such illicit activities,” Sosa said.
Finally, there is the question of the true value of a fish, which goes beyond the food plate and extends to its use to make supplements, cosmetics, clothing, and post-surgical skin patches for burns and wounds worth over US$2,000 apiece.
Photo 1
Trainees inspect various products from fish for the fashion, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. 
“It's no longer only about fish fillets. Today, Iceland uses up to 82% of a cod fish caught,” Sosa said.
Text Box - CARIFORUM StatesThe Caribbean is looking at the Icelandic example to not just bolster its SPS regime, but also to expand the range of value added products from fish, and strengthen the value chain to maximize benefits across the spectrum, from fisher to processor to exporter. All along that chain, adherence to new SPS measures—which are taking shape with plans to establish harmonized legislation across CARIFORUM States—will be vital in helping to secure the region’s position on the global market.
There is a lot at stake. CARIFORUM countries exported nearly US$400 million worth of seafood and other marine products around the globe in 2015, with their biggest trading partners being the US and the EU, respectively.
Official trade data from those jurisdictions indicate that CARIFORUM States exported in excess of US$210 million worth of finfish, lobster and conch, as well as value added products such as fish sauces, to the USA in 2015. Additionally, they exported roughly US$75 million worth of marine products to the EU, the region’s second largest seafood trading partner, during the same time.


 Special emphasis directed at flyingfish fishery in the Eastern Caribbean / 

Belize City, Belize, 22 April 2016 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) this week sealed an agreement with a UN agency to strengthen governance arrangements for the flyingfish fishery in the Caribbean, with special emphasis on maximizing the long-term potential of the fishery, which employs several thousands in the region and feeds many more.

Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM, signed the Memorandum of Agreement for Caribbean States; while Kirk Bayabos, Senior Cluster Manager, signed on behalf of the project executing agency, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), a subsidiary of the UN.

The agreement is under a 5-year umbrella project, the UNDP/GEF Catalysing Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of shared Living Marine Resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+) Project, designed to catalyze the implementation of a 10-year Strategic Action Programme (SAP), focused on the sustainable management of shared living marine resources harnessed from the large marine ecosystems in both the Caribbean and the North Brazil Shelf. The SAP was endorsed by the ministers of CARICOM responsible for fisheries and/or environment in 2014.

CLME globe

The Caribbean Sea is described as a semi-enclosed sea adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, south to the Gulf of Mexico. It is one of the largest salt water seas with a diverse marine life that is fundamental to the livelihoods of coastal communities, project documents detail.

It is within this expansive marine space—spanning more than a million square miles—that the flyingfish, a species of fish which has a life-span of less than one year, but which spawns as many as 7,000 eggs several times between November and July, is known to thrive in a zone spanning from Dominica to Trinidad and Tobago.

The wider area known as the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (jointly called “CLME+”) is bordered by 35 states and territories, including the 17 CRFM Member States.

Due to its vast socio-economic value, the CLME+ buttresses two of the region’s economic pillars: tourism and fisheries. However, these ecosystems are today being adversely impacted by pollution, habitat degradation and unsustainable fisheries and fishing practices. The 10-year SAP created under a forerunner CLME Project is aimed at tackling those threats, while also combating the threats which climate change poses to sustainable fisheries.

In March 2015, a US$ 12.5 million grant was released by the GEF to support the execution of a 5-year project (the CLME+ Project), to advance the implementation of the SAP. The CLME+ Project is being implemented by the Project Coordinating Unit in Cartagena, Colombia in collaboration with a number of regional partners.

In January 2016, three Regional Fisheries Bodies, the CRFM, the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization (Organización del Sector Pesquero y Acuícola del Istmo Centroamericano, OSPESCA), and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations - Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (FAO-WECAFC) signed a fisheries agreement, to improve their coordination under the CLME+ project through an interim coordination mechanism. The work being undertaken to improve the Caribbean flyingfish fishery will test the effectiveness of this region-wide mechanism.

The parties to this week’s accord—the CRFM and UNOPS—will work together over the next four years to implement a CLME+ project funded by the United Nations Development Program/Global Environment Facility (UNDP/GEF). The Caribbean sub-component is expected to wrap up in August 2019.


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