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On 21 May 2021, The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), an institution of CARICOM, adopted a resolution on the Copenhagen Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing industry and the Blue Justice Initiative.

The Ministerial Council of CRFM consists of the Ministers responsible for fisheries from 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 Turks and Caicos Islands.

In the resolution, the Ministers highlighted that IUU-fishing and Transnational Organized Crime in the global fishing industry constitute a serious threat to the security and sustainable use of the living marine resources and marine biodiversity, and that it jeopardizes the food security and blue economic development of the countries in the region.

It was also stated that the Ministerial Council “supports the Copenhagen Declaration and encourages Ministers responsible for fisheries to individually support the declaration and convey their interest in cooperating and benefitting from the Blue Justice Initiative…”



The International Blue Justice Tracking Center established in the Arctic town of Vardø (photo: flickr/cc/Mickey Bo)


An “International Blue Justice Tracking Center” has been established under the Blue Justice Initiative. The Center will be supported by the joint analytical unit of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries and the Coastal Administration and is located in the town of Vardø.

The Center will be supported by analysts from the Norwegian Fisheries Directorate who will work together with colleagues around the world to produce reports on the movement of fishing vessels and potential illegal fishing operations.

As an important part of the Blue Justice initiative, the Center will also work closely with other partners of the initiative, such as UNODC’s Container Control Programme, UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Information about it can be seen here: https://bluejustice.org/the-international-blue-justice-tracking-center-established-under-the-blue-justice-initiative-in-the-arctic-town-of-vardo/





MinisterSabotoCaesarThe CRFM promotes and facilitates the responsible utilization of the region’s fisheries and other aquatic marine resources for the economic and social benefits of the people of the region. The CRFM consists of three bodies: the Ministerial Council, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, and the CRFM Secretariat.

The chair of the Ministerial Council is Minister Hon. Saboto Caesar of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.


Thursday, 24 June 2021 (Jamaica Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries)  For the first time, Jamaica’s 26,000 registered fishers will have access to insurance coverage for their vessels, engines and other equipment with the launch of the Safety Net insurance policy provided by Advantage General Insurance Company.

“This Advantage Safety Net policy is the first of its kind. It is the first [time] that artisanal fishers will be able to go into an insurance company to take out an insurance policy to protect their fishing vessels,” said Green.


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Minister Green (left) at the unveiling of the Safety Net policy for fishers


Speaking at the virtual launch held at the Ministry's Hope Gardens offices in St. Andrew on June 22, Green said the policy will protect fishers against a wide array of perils both at sea and on land and even when their vessels are being repaired.

“It not only gives them greater security; it also gives them greater accessibility to the things they need to enhance their businesses,” Green stated.

In addition, Advantage General has also provided for fishers and farmers special access to discounted rates for insuring their cars and homes, the agriculture and fisheries minister stated.

Noting the need to provide protection for farmers in relation to all the investments that they have placed in the ground and in their greenhouses that are subject to so many vagaries, especially in relation to weather, Green said the next step is the provision of crop insurance.

For her part, Vice-President of Underwriting and Channel Management at Advantage General, Ruth Cummings, in outlining the benefits under the package, said the protection provided by the Safety Net policy includes accidental loss or damage to fishing vessels and accessories by fire, explosion, malicious acts, flood, hurricanes and other such perils as well as theft of vessel or outboard.

“We believe it is important that fisherfolk are protected and have peace of mind as they go about their business,” said Cummings.




The Safety Net policy provides coverage for accidental physical loss or damage to the fishing vessel and its accessories including theft. For the first time, vulnerable fishing communities will have access to insurance coverage developed specifically for them.

We recognize our fishers and farmers as the backbone of our economy and the primary providers of the food we eat. We want to protect their livelihood by providing affordable and accessible insurance coverage.


Belize City, Friday, 4 June 2021 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) today announced the appointment of its new Deputy Executive Director. Dr. Sandra Caroline Grant, a national of Jamaica, joined the CRFM Secretariat on 1 June 2021, following approval for her appointment by the CRFM’s Ministerial Council on 21 May 2021. Dr. Sandra Grant takes over from Dr. Susan Singh-Renton, who will retire from the CRFM on 30 June 2021, after 29 years of stellar service to the region.

Dr. Grant brings a wealth of experience to the CRFM’s team, having worked for the past 26 years in the fisheries sector throughout the Caribbean region. Most recently, Dr. Grant worked closely with the Government of Belize to lead the World Bank-funded Belize Marine Conservation and Climate Adaptation Project. The project was instrumental in mainstreaming climate resilience adaptation measures into ongoing government activities through a collaborative approach.

Dr. Grant started her career in fisheries as the Data Manager at the Fisheries Division in Jamaica from 1995 to 1999.  She then worked with the CARICOM Fisheries Unit (presently the CRFM), as Data Manager/Analyst under the Caribbean Fisheries Resource Assessment and Management Programme (CFRAMP) from 1999 to 2001. She continued to work at the regional level as the ecosystem management planning consultant on the Lesser Antilles Pelagic Ecosystem (LAPE) Project, to conduct Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) training workshops and update existing fisheries management plans in each beneficiary country. Dr Grant, later worked as the Regional Manager for the Caribbean on the EDF-funded ACP Fish II Programme, to assist ACP Caribbean countries with improving fisheries policies, management, enforcement capabilities, and research strategies and initiatives at both national and regional levels.

Dr. Grant attained her Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Management from the University of Manitoba, Canada. She also holds a Master of Philosophy in Zoology (Aquaculture), Certificate in Management and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of the West Indies.

As Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Grant is responsible for assisting in the overall management of the CRFM Secretariat and for the coordination of the technical programmes. She will play a strong supporting role to the Executive Director in the identification and development of technical projects and the acquisition of funds, as well as promoting and implementing actions to ensure sustainable use, management, and conservation of the marine living resources of the CARICOM / CRFM Member States.


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Belize City, Wednesday, 26 May 2021 (CRFM)—The newly elected chair of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Hon. Saboto S. Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Transformation, Forestry and Fisheries of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, has urged fellow ministers responsible for Fisheries across the Caribbean to prioritize the Blue Economy, to strengthen the region’s COVID-19 recovery efforts. The ‘Blue Economy’ is an emerging concept which encourages better use and conservation of the ocean or ‘blue’ resources to boost economic growth and to tackle unemployment, food security and poverty.


New Chair of Ministerial Council says the benefits of the blue economy must be harnessed to drive rebound from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic


The Ministerial Council has been forced to meet virtually since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that has not stopped them from making monumental progress in steering the fisheries and aquaculture sector forward, with carefully designed policies and plans, despite very challenging times.


Minister Caesar, who was elected as chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council on Friday, 21 May 2021 to succeed Minister Ezechiel Joseph of Saint Lucia, has assumed leadership with a resolute commitment, even as his home country is striving to overcome double tragedy, with the recent eruption of La Soufrière volcano amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


Prior to the pandemic and the volcano, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines stood out among the countries that were registering improvements in trade of its fisheries commodities. Although some CRFM Member States have been seeing declining exports coupled with a growing import bill to meet domestic demand for fish and fishery products, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines continued to register growth in trade for 2019 and 2020.


During the recent CRFM Ministerial Council meeting, the Ministers received the latest updates on status and trends in fisheries and aquaculture, as documented in the “CRFM Statistics and Information Report 2019/2020,” which the Ministers have endorsed for publication. The evidence provided in the report demonstrated that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on activities in the fisheries sector, including production, as well as exports and imports of fish and fishery products.


These impacts were documented in even more detail through regional assessments which the CRFM Secretariat conducted during 2020 and 2021, aimed at providing insights to support the reorientation of the fisheries and aquaculture sector. Member States will convene follow-up meetings to advance post-COVID-19 response and recovery, in line with the CARICOM COVID-19 Agri-Food Action Plan and Risk Management Framework.


The CRFM is involved in several initiatives to help Member States address the myriad challenges that confront them, and these initiatives have integrated elements to address and mitigate COVID-19 impacts, as well as a prior mandate of the Ministerial Council to address gender, youth, and decent work in all CRFM policies, protocols, programmes, and plans. At their meeting last week, the Ministers also approved the Gender Analysis, Strategy and Action Plan on Gender Mainstreaming in Fisheries for the CRFM countries, which the CRFM developed through a recently concluded project funded by Global Affairs Canada in collaboration with a UNDP/ GEF supported Flyingfish Sub-project of the CLME+ Project. The Ministers also welcomed and expressed their support for the Copenhagen Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry and the Blue Justice Initiative established with Norwegian support to help countries (particularly developing countries) to work together and build their capacity to prevent, deter and eradicate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry.


Other initiatives considered by the CRFM Ministerial Council include the ‘Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience in the Caribbean’ 3-year initiative, funded by New Zealand, which will explore the potential opportunities for countries to generate revenue from high-end products to be made from Sargassum seaweed; the proposed GEF/Development Bank of Latin American/FAO ‘Caribbean Blue Economy Project entitled, Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities Through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus (BE-CLME+ Project); the Japan-funded COASTFISH project, which will advance co-management of coastal fisheries; as well as the recently launched EU-funded sanitary and phytosanitary systems project aimed at addressing quality control and safety of fish exports and imports, and which is expected to help drive an important engine for economic growth through increased international trade opportunities.


The Ministers also agreed on approaches to ensure that CARICOM States are prepared to meet the requirements of the USA Marine Mammals Act which will take effect in 2022 and avoid interruption in flow of fish and fishery products to the US market. Finally, the meeting discussed and provided guidance on the ongoing World Trade Organization initiative to conclude a legally binding agreement to prohibit harmful subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing and overfishing, as well as the Intergovernmental Conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to elaborate the text of a legally binding international instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.


The Executive Director of the CRFM, Mr. Milton Haughton, said: “the 15th Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM was a very productive and successful meeting, with extremely useful and informed contributions from policymakers and senior officials from across the region. The level of engagement and enthusiasm of policymakers confirmed that there is a bright future for fisheries and aquaculture in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery and food security of the Caribbean region.”


The Region’s Fisheries Ministers are due to meet again in October 2021 for their 11th Special Meeting, when they are expected to, among other things, consider a Resource Mobilization Strategy, a Remote Work Policy and the Third CRFM Strategic Plan, to chart the way forward for the next 8 years (2022-2030). The CRFM has committed to involving stakeholders from all 17 Member States and international development partners in crafting a plan that will give life to the collective vision and aspiration of the people across the region.

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Belize City, Tuesday, 27 April 2021 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the technical and advisory arm of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), is convening its 19th Meeting this week. High on the agenda are updates on the status and trends in the fisheries and aquaculture sector; Coronavirus impacts and post COVID-19 reorientation of the fisheries sector; the sustainable management and use of fisheries resources; as well as matters related to the Sargassum seaweed, blue economic growth, climate change and fisheries, mainstreaming gender issues in fisheries, and the sustainable development of aquaculture.

Representatives from 17 Member States of the CRFM, as well as Observer entities are expected to attend and participate when the meeting convenes on 27 and 28 April 2021. The participants will also be engaged in plenary sessions on policy development, collaboration with other bodies, as well as broader issues of international significance, such as the World Trade Organization Fisheries Subsidies Negotiation, the UN Agreement on the Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), and combatting international fisheries crimes.

For the past year, Saint Lucia has served as Chair of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum. At the upcoming meeting, Members are expected to elect a new chair and vice chair of the Forum, and determine the new composition of the Executive Committee of the Forum.

The Forum is also expected to formulate a set of recommendations for action by the CRFM Ministerial Council, due to meet in May 2021.



Belize City, Friday, 16 April 2021 (CRFM)— The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) today announced immediate availability of The Eastern Caribbean Flyingfish Management Plan 2020-2025 (ECFFMP 2020-2025)

“We see the ECFFMP 2020-2025 as contributing to efficient fishing activities within an economically viable and competitive small-scale fisheries sector. This should engender a comfortable standard of living for those who depend on flyingfish as a significant part of their income and culture,” said Peter A. Murray, Senior Fisheries Development and Management Advisor at the CRFM Secretariat.


A bountiful catch of the Eastern Caribbean flyingfish


Murray added that, “This ECFFMP effort is an important step in the process of putting the ecosystems approach to fisheries into practice both on land and in the sea – to truly ensure that there is fish for life.”

He informed that this iconic species of economic and cultural significance to our region is harvested by fishers using over 1,700 boats across the Eastern Caribbean.

The first Eastern Caribbean Flying Fish Fisheries Management Plan (2014-2019) was approved in May 2014 by CARICOM fisheries ministers, assembled as the CRFM’s highest decision-making body – the Ministerial Council. It marked the first time the Caribbean Community approved a Sub-regional fisheries management plan for the shared resource.

The Eastern Caribbean Flyingfish Management Plan (2020-2025), which was approved by the CRFM Ministerial Council in 2019, is an updated version of the 2014-2019 plan, driven by feedback from scientists, fishers, and fisheries officers in CRFM Member States that depend on the flyingfish fishery.

The goals of the ECFFMP are enhanced governance, stakeholder management culture, data management and adaptive management areas in the seas and islands of the CARICOM region to achieve sustainable use of the stocks.

The CRFM Secretariat developed the Eastern Caribbean Flyingfish Fishery Management Plan (2020-2025) with generous funding via the UNDP/GEF project, “Catalysing Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of shared Living Marine Resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf (CLME+ Project)”.

The ECFFMP is intended to be used as a daily guide and handy reference by technocrats and primary stakeholders in policymaking and execution of the ecosystem approach to fisheries.

To mark the release of the plan and to foster public awareness of its purpose and promise, a limited series of not-for-sale promotional items, ranging from caps and bags to notebooks and flash drives, was also produced for distribution to a variety of stakeholders, from high school students to fishers to householders.

In addition, a companion brochure, intended to aid in the marketing of the ECFFMP, has been designed. The brochure is a fisher-friendly vehicle for communicating and promoting a new brand and logo for the ECFFMP. While technocrats – fisheries officials – form the book’s primary audience, the brochure was written and designed for larger public audiences – from fishers to high school students. The brochure reinforces the concept of the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF), which guides the fisheries management plan.

Murray said: “EAF is identified as a ‘fundamental principle’ to guide implementation of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP) and is recognized in the CCCFP for the conservation and management of CARICOM’s fisheries resources.”

He explained that beyond the CARICOM/CRFM sub-region, the EAF has also gained traction as marine ecosystem-based management (EBM) incorporated into a vision for the Wider Caribbean Region. As such, CRFM Member States and stakeholder organisations, of several types and at several levels, have already expressed their commitment to EAF through both words and action.

The management plan project is being implemented in collaboration with six national focal points, the fisheries divisions of Barbados, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Dominica, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Although Antigua and Barbuda lacks a flyingfish fishery, its fisheries authorities have expressed an interest in keeping abreast of the ECFFMP. Therefore, they are included to a limited extent in the project.

“The commercial significance of flyingfish to the six focal point nations means that public education and awareness are essential to making the plan work for the benefit of all those who live on and from this species,” the fisheries advisor said.




Sargassum seaweed has been inundating Caribbean beaches since 2011. (Photo: CRFM 2019)


Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience to mitigate harsh impacts on Caribbean States



BELIZE CITY, 2 MARCH 2021 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and Plant & Food Research, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute, will host a virtual training workshop on Wednesday, 3 March 2021. The session—which will be conducted with the assistance of Prof Mona Webber of the Marine Science Centre, UWI, Mona Campus, Jamaica—will focus on techniques for harvesting, handling, species identification and processing of Sargassum seaweed for initial evaluation.

It will be attended by the four target countries for field work, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, and Jamaica, as well as other interested CARICOM States and organisations such as CARDI, CERMES UWI, University of Belize, the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisation (CNFO) and IAEA.

The training supports the effective implementation of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade-funded project entitled, Developing Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience in the Caribbean, due to commence in April 2021. In addition to the target countries, other CRFM Member States will benefit either directly or indirectly from the project, which aims to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries through the creation of inclusive value chains.

Since 2011, periodic influxes of massive quantities of Sargassum seaweed have been entering Caribbean waters, resulting in substantial economic losses and adverse impacts on human and environmental health.

The Outlook of 2021 Sargassum blooms in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, released by the University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Lab on at the end of February 2021 indicated that, “…the eastern [Caribbean Sea] will likely experience increased amounts of Sargassum in March and April 2021, while some of the Lesser Antilles Islands will continue experiencing beaching events on both their windward leeward beaches." It forecasted that the situation could continue into summer, with the overall bloom intensity possibly like that of 2019.

In September 2020, the CRFM entered into a 3-year collaborative agreement with Plant & Food Research, to address Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries. Plant & Food Research and the CRFM are collaborating to explore the creation of new technologies and value chains from the Sargassum seaweed. The project aims to develop Sargassum-derived product prototypes and production processes, including a commercialisation strategy to support its marketing.

 For more information, view the project brochure here.

On 4 December 2020, CRFM’s Continental Shelf Fisheries Working Group (CSWG), supported by over 20 national, regional and international fisheries experts, commended both Guyana and Suriname for their organized approaches to sustainable management of the countries’ Atlantic seabob (shrimp) trawl fisheries. These seabob trawl fisheries are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which recognizes good standards in fisheries management practices. The MSC label gives Guyana’s and Suriname’s seabob products the competitive edge on the international market!

The regional peer expert group reviewed the progress made on management plans, with special attention being given to how the countries were addressing MSC conditions and recommendations, and piloting agreed new harvest control rules adopted in 2019. The countries were also commended for their active engagement with private sector partners for management cooperation, and with the regional and international NGO and donor communities for research support.

A strong commendation came from the National Coordinator for the REBYC-II LAC[1] project in Suriname, Dr. Tomas Willems. Willems remarked that “It is great to see Suriname and Guyana working together on the management of their seabob fisheries, exchanging information and lessons learned, and jointly tackling research and stock assessment. Assuming that stocks of many more species are potentially shared among the countries of the Guianas - North-Brazil shelf, the seabob fishery provides an important example of how cross-border collaboration can look like in practice.

During the review of 4 December, both Suriname and Guyana, were able to demonstrate well organized plans and approaches for guiding their seabob trawl fishery management activities. The two countries did highlight some delays and disruptions to their activities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic situation. The industry pointed out that the pandemic had affected its operations as well. The Working Group meeting heard that Suriname had to extend the pilot trial period for the harvest control rule to allow for more comprehensive evaluation of performance of the rule through the natural fluctuations of catches through time, that is, through both low and high seabob production months. Notwithstanding, the pilot trials had allowed Suriname to adjust and refine its systems and procedures for data and information management to cope with the monthly monitoring of catch rates and estimations of the harvest control rule index. The outputs were then used to determine if and by how much the industry would have to adjust its fishing effort levels over time. Guyana had not yet begun pilot trials of its harvest control rule, but indicated that such trials would begin in 2021.

During the review, some key issues of concern were raised in respect of the harvest control rule application and of the catch rate data. If the harvest control rule required industry adjustment actions, the time lag for action was 2 months, but the industry indicated that this time lag may in fact be too long. The Working Group recalled that the best available data and science were applied to the 2019 assessments, and also recalled that its 2019 meeting had identified certain additional data and information, which if made available, could help to improve the quality of the catch rate estimation and, in turn, the quality of seabob assessment results and associated harvest control rules.

In conclusion, the Working Group commended the countries for their planning, monitoring, and reporting efforts, and for the completed harvest control rule trials. The Working Group also agreed to convene a meeting early in 2021, which would devote attention to data and information improvements for the next full seabob stock assessment.

The Continental Shelf Working Group Meeting was chaired by CRFM’s Deputy Executive Director, Susan Singh-Renton. Singh-Renton noted that “In 2019, the CRFM responded to a request by both Guyana and Suriname for regional coordination and peer review of scientific assessments of the seabob shrimp stocks fished by their trawl fisheries. The scientific assessments were successfully facilitated by CRFM’s Continental Shelf Fisheries Working Group, which then also agreed to keep under review the implementation of agreed inter-sessional activities, and this work is ongoing. The inter-sessional activities have been planned to ensure that all the MSC conditions and recommendations are fully met”.

Photo Caption: Seabob trawler operating off the coast of Suriname (Photo Credit: Tomas Willems, National Coordinator for the REBYC-II LAC project in Suriname)

Click here to download a copy of the Press Release

[1] REBYC-II LAC project is the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation supported Project entitled, “Sustainable Management of Bycatch in Latin America and Caribbean Trawl Fisheries”


In September 2020, the CRFM entered into a 3-year collaborative agreement with Plant & Food Research, to address Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries. Plant & Food Research, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute, and the CRFM, an inter-governmental organization which promotes and facilitates the responsible utilization of the Caribbean's fisheries and other aquatic resources, are collaborating to explore the creation of new technologies and value chains from marine biomass, particularly the Sargassum seaweed.


The overall aim of the project is to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries through the creation of inclusive value chains for Sargassum seaweed.

 The CRFM has produced a leaflet with further details. View it online below or download a PDF copy HERE.


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.

  BE CLME group photo

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.

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