CRFM-logo

CRFM Communications

CRFM Communications

Website URL: http://www.crfm.net

Belize City, Friday, 24 February 2017 (CRFM)—A landmark study to look at the impacts of rising cost factors on fishing operations in the Caribbean has been concluded, and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), in collaboration with FAO, will convene a validation workshop at the United Nations House in Christ Church, Barbados on Monday, February 27 and Tuesday, February 28, to review the findings and chart the necessary course of action.

At the upcoming event, CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, will present a general overview of the project and explain what the workshop is expected to achieve. The background, findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study will be presented by Claudia Stella Beltrán Turriago, economic consultant, for final refinement.

The study, carried out in select CRFM Member States, focused on factors such as capital, labor, maintenance and energy costs. At next week’s meeting, participants will review and finalize the formal report on the findings of the study, as well as propose workable policy options and strategies to improve efficiency, productivity and sustainability in the fisheries sector. The broader aim is to improve competitiveness and profitability at the local, regional and international levels.

The initiative will also inform strategies to protect against future economic shocks, reduce barriers to market access, and compensate for price fluctuations for fisheries produce by building on the value-added dimension of the industry.

Last May, the CRFM convened a meeting of fisheries experts in Barbados to create a roadmap, including the best methodology for the study. They also selected the beneficiary countries targeted for fieldwork and remote surveys, which entailed surveys of small-scale and industrial fishers, suppliers, traders and exporters.

Later that same month, the consultant commenced field visits to Belize, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She also conducted remote surveys for Guyana, Grenada, Colombia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

All 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), are expected to benefit from the broader application of the study’s findings.

The CRFM will prepare a policy brief for action by Caribbean leaders, to 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.

Belize City, Friday, 24 February 2017 (CRFM)—A landmark study to look at the impacts of rising cost factors on fishing operations in the Caribbean has been concluded, and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), in collaboration with FAO, will convene a validation workshop at the United Nations House in Christ Church, Barbados on Monday, February 27 and Tuesday, February 28, to review the findings and chart the necessary course of action.

At the upcoming event, CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, will present a general overview of the project and explain what the workshop is expected to achieve. The background, findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study will be presented by Claudia Stella Beltrán Turriago, economic consultant, for final refinement.

The study, carried out in select CRFM Member States, focused on factors such as capital, labor, maintenance and energy costs. At next week’s meeting, participants will review and finalize the formal report on the findings of the study, as well as propose workable policy options and strategies to improve efficiency, productivity and sustainability in the fisheries sector. The broader aim is to improve competitiveness and profitability at the local, regional and international levels.

The initiative will also inform strategies to protect against future economic shocks, reduce barriers to market access, and compensate for price fluctuations for fisheries produce by building on the value-added dimension of the industry.

Last May, the CRFM convened a meeting of fisheries experts in Barbados to create a roadmap, including the best methodology for the study. They also selected the beneficiary countries targeted for fieldwork and remote surveys, which entailed surveys of small-scale and industrial fishers, suppliers, traders and exporters.

Later that same month, the consultant commenced field visits to Belize, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She also conducted remote surveys for Guyana, Grenada, Colombia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

All 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), are expected to benefit from the broader application of the study’s findings.

The CRFM will prepare a policy brief for action by Caribbean leaders, to 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.

Belize City, Friday, 24 February 2017 (CRFM)—A landmark study to look at the impacts of rising cost factors on fishing operations in the Caribbean has been concluded, and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), in collaboration with FAO, will convene a validation workshop at the United Nations House in Christ Church, Barbados on Monday, February 27 and Tuesday, February 28, to review the findings and chart the necessary course of action.

At the upcoming event, CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, will present a general overview of the project and explain what the workshop is expected to achieve. The background, findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study will be presented by Claudia Stella Beltrán Turriago, economic consultant, for final refinement.

The study, carried out in select CRFM Member States, focused on factors such as capital, labor, maintenance and energy costs. At next week’s meeting, participants will review and finalize the formal report on the findings of the study, as well as propose workable policy options and strategies to improve efficiency, productivity and sustainability in the fisheries sector. The broader aim is to improve competitiveness and profitability at the local, regional and international levels.

The initiative will also inform strategies to protect against future economic shocks, reduce barriers to market access, and compensate for price fluctuations for fisheries produce by building on the value-added dimension of the industry.

Last May, the CRFM convened a meeting of fisheries experts in Barbados to create a roadmap, including the best methodology for the study. They also selected the beneficiary countries targeted for fieldwork and remote surveys, which entailed surveys of small-scale and industrial fishers, suppliers, traders and exporters.

Later that same month, the consultant commenced field visits to Belize, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She also conducted remote surveys for Guyana, Grenada, Colombia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

All 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), are expected to benefit from the broader application of the study’s findings.

The CRFM will prepare a policy brief for action by Caribbean leaders, to 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.

 

Belize City, Friday, 3 February 2017 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and a team of Norwegian experts have concluded a successful two-week fact-finding mission in the Caribbean aimed at identifying critical ways in which Norway can support the sustainable development of Caribbean fisheries and aquaculture.

The team, comprised of Milton Haughton, CRFM Executive Director; Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; and Mr. Johán Williams, Specialist Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, met with Senior executives of the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana, as well as Ministers, permanent secretaries, chief fisheries officers and other stakeholders in sample countries, affording the team an opportunity to look at the spectrum of fisheries operations across the region in countries and communities with varying types of fisheries and levels of development.

CARICOM-Guyana

 Appearing in the photo (left to right) are Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; Dr. Johán Williams, Special Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs; and CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General for Trade and Economic Integration (TEI), Mr. Joseph Cox


 

 

The 7 countries covered in the mission were The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago.

In Guyana, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder said that not only is the cooperation timely but it also augurs well for research and management of the fisheries sector.

“It is important to build on the capacity which already exists and expand, to ensure that Guyana’s fisheries sector continues to thrive…,” the Minister said.

On receiving the mission in Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs. Angela Siew, the Permanent Secretary (Ag.) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries in that Member State, said that she was thrilled at the timing of the proposal espoused by the technical mission from Norway.

"I am particularly pleased with the capacity-building objective of the programme, as the current economic tides have gravely impeded the Ministry's staffing within the Fisheries sector. The programme, therefore, presents a unique and much needed opportunity for the human resource capacity to be enhanced within the fisheries sector," Siew was quoted as saying in a government news release.

Apart from helping CRFM Member States to improve evidence-based management of the region's fisheries resources and associated ecosystems, the effort, which the parties hope will result in a regional project to be launched in the latter half of 2017, is also geared towards bolstering trade by improving the Caribbean's competiveness on the world market.

On the conclusion of the fact-finding mission this week, Haughton said that, “Although the local characteristics and environment in Norway are very different from ours in the Caribbean, we can nevertheless benefit from the underlying guiding principles and research, and institutional capacities of Norway to develop and strengthen our systems, to ensure that we optimize the contribution that our marine resources make to our economic and social development targets. So we are looking forward to working closely with our partners from Norway in the coming months and years to build capacities in the CARICOM countries, and transfer knowledge and technology to strengthen our fisheries research and information systems, improve governance, resource management and trade capacities, and ultimately strengthen food security and wealth creation for our peoples.”

 

Guyana processing plant

 Plant workers at this processing facility in Guyana could also benefit from the proposed initiative to strengthen fisheries data, establish traceability of fish catch and improve catch documentation.

 

 Commercial-fishing-boat-doc

Pictured here is a commercial fishing boat, loaded with gear, docked at Guyana’s coast


 More specifically, future collaboration should aim at helping Caribbean countries to strengthen fisheries data, establish traceability of fish catch and improve catch documentation to ensure that investment and policy-decisions are based on good science, as well as safeguards against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing—a scourge to the Caribbean and the rest of the world.

The collaboration between the parties represents the first such initiative undertaken by Norway with Caribbean countries, and via the regional fisheries body, the CRFM. The parties hope to strengthen their cross-hemisphere ties for the long-term, in line with a wider agreement sealed five months ago by the CARICOM Secretariat and the governments of the Nordic countries. That agreement does not only enable cooperation in fisheries, identified as one of the priority areas for attention; it also supports collaboration in areas such as renewable energy, climate change, gender equality, tourism, and information technology.

“The Norwegian governance and management system for their marine living and non-living resources is very impressive and has contributed immensely to their national wealth and economic development. Underpinning their exceptional economic performance and high standard of living is a resolute commitment to the collection and use of scientific evidence and knowledge of the marine resources to inform decision-making and policy implementation,” Haughton concluded.

 

 

Belize City, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Government of Norway have launched a two-week mission to explore the development of a regional technical assistance project to be funded by Norway. The project would support the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector by strengthening evidence-based management.

Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; and Dr. Johán Williams, Specialist Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, began meeting on Monday, January 16, with CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton at the CRFM Secretariat in Belize City, after which the team embarked in a two-week dialogue with 7 CRFM Members States, beginning with senior government officials in Belize.

This regional fact-finding mission is being undertaken within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Cooperation between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Governments of the Nordic Countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, signed by the parties on 20 September 2016 in New York, USA. That MoU identified fisheries as one of the priority areas of cooperation, along with environment, climate change, renewable energy, gender equality, tourism, education, child protection and welfare, and information technology.

"Norway is a powerhouse in fisheries, globally,” Haughton said. “They have excellent systems for research, data collection, resource management, and making decisions based on science; and we need to move more in that direction—strengthening our systems to be able to make better decisions regarding fisheries conservation and management, as well as fisheries development on the basis of good scientific data and information.”

Haughton added that: “We are interested in drawing on the Norwegian knowledge, expertise and technology in various aspects of fisheries and aquaculture, in building our own capacities in CARICOM in fisheries research, statistics, resource management, aquaculture (particularly mariculture), fish processing, value addition, marketing and international trade.”

Principally, the engagement between Norway and the CRFM Member States will focus of building human resource capacity, institutional capacity, and the accuracy and volume of fisheries data and information, with an emphasis on pursuing the ecosystems approach to fisheries development and management.

While in Belize, Høines and Williams had a chance to dialogue with H.E. Daniel Guiterrez, Belize’s Ambassador to CARICOM; Hon. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Climate Change, as well as Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade.

After leaving Belize on Tuesday, the team, joined by CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton, travels to Haiti for similar dialogue, as they consult with stakeholders in the field to better define their interests. Next, the team will travel to Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and The Bahamas. While in Guyana, they will meet both with fisheries officials there and officials of the CARICOM Secretariat. The technical mission concludes near the end of January.

Haughton noted that for more than 60 years, Norway has been supporting fisheries research surveys in developing countries using the marine research vessel, Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, outfitted with high-level modern technology in marine resource survey. Those vessels have been dispatched in Africa and other parts of the developing world. It is the CRFM’s hope that during the latter half of the proposed project, for the period 2019-2020, the research vessel would be deployed in the Caribbean to conduct surveys to broaden the region’s understanding of the state of its fisheries resources and marine environment. The CRFM also intends to collaborate in this endeavor with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/ Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission, which is already committed to assisting the region in buildings its fisheries knowledge base.

 

 

Belize City, Friday, 13 January 2017 (CRFM)—Through the long-standing partnership between the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the United Nations University Fisheries Technical Programme (UNU-FTP) in Iceland, the University has deployed one of Iceland’s top fisheries data experts to the CRFM Secretariat for a short site-based assignment, to provide operational support and guidance at the country level for improving the management and usage of fisheries data systems.

The visiting expert is Dr. Einar Hjörleifsson, who has been working at the Marine Research Institute, Iceland, since 1996. Dr. Hjörleifsson’s primary role has been data analysis and stock assessment. Over the same time, he has been working at the UNU-FTP in a role as a teacher and student supervisor. During his visit to the Caribbean, Dr. Hjörleifsson will be working under the guidance of CRFM’s Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Susan Singh-Renton.

Dr. Singh-Renton emphasized that, “Dr. Hjörleifsson’s present assignment with the CRFM is intended to allow him to give special ‘on-the-ground’ attention to all aspects of the fisheries data systems in two CRFM countries that have made reasonable investments both for the present and the future of their data systems. Hence, the assignment is expected to build further on such investments.”

CRFM’s Statistics and Information Analyst, June Masters, who will also be working closely with Dr. Hjörleifsson, expects that, “The countries involved will get the opportunity to critically examine their respective fisheries data collection system and make improvements where possible.”

Fortunately, Dr. Hjörleifsson has worked with the CRFM on previous occasions on behalf of the UNU-FTP, to deliver training in statistics and stock assessment to CRFM fisheries professionals, and so he is no stranger to the data challenges in the CRFM countries.

As he began his assignment this week with gathering information on the status of data systems and their usage in the CRFM region, and holding discussions with key informants both at the national and regional levels, Dr. Hjörleifsson indicated that his first aim would be to “enhance skills and increase efficiency in fisheries data analysis and report writing.”

While efforts to improve data management have been sustained over the years through various regional initiatives and also since the founding of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) in 2002, data management remains a significant stumbling block for advancing fisheries management goals within the region and globally. Hence, CRFM very much welcomes the present visit by Dr. Hjörleifsson, which will help CRFM States to take a fresh look at an old problem!

 

Belize City, Belize, Monday, 9 January 2017 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) is hosting a working group meeting at the Ramada Belize City Princess Hotel from 9 – 10 January 2017, to advance the implementation of a risk insurance facility for fishers in the region.

 

When Fisheries ministers from CRFM Member States met in Cayman in October 2016, they reviewed the progress made towards the activation of the Caribbean Ocean Assets Sustainability FaciliTy (COAST). This week’s working group meeting, which the CRFM is facilitating in collaboration with the US Department of State, will aid in the selection of a representative sample of Caribbean countries in which the initiative will be piloted.

 

The purpose of this week’s meeting is to chart the steps necessary to qualify a pilot country (or pilot countries) to purchase the COAST insurance product from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility Segregated Portfolio Company (CCRIF SPC) before the start of the hurricane season on June 1, 2017.

 

The CRFM notes that, “The COAST insurance scheme will offer an opportunity for countries to buy insurance to help protect their fisheries sector, and hence their food security, from severe weather while promoting resilience to a changing climate and encouraging the conservation of marine environments.”

 

According to Julia Duncan, who serves in theSecretary of State's Office of Global Food Security, COAST will provide 180,000 fisherfolk and associated industries in the Caribbean access to insurance for losses from severe weather. Duncan said that Jamaica has already expressed interest in COAST, which is also supported in principle by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ministerial group, and the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO), in addition to the CRFM.

 

The COAST initiative is being implemented within the context of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP), which provides a useful framework for considering the requirements for country-led, climate-smart food security strategies in the fisheries sector.

 

The CRFM is the lead implantation agency for Caribbean states. The regional fisheries body is uniquely positioned to lead efforts to verify country-led plans and support the implementation of best practices for climate-smart food security in the fisheries sector. International organizations such as the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and The Nature Conservancy are lending their technical support. All collaborating agencies were invited to attend the working group meeting.

 

Joining CRFM Secretariat staff members, US State Department personnel and officials of the US Embassy in Belize at the COAST meeting in Belize, are representatives of the World Bank, which has supported CCRIF SPC, a Cayman-based agency serving 17 Caribbean nations and Nicaragua, in the creation of the COAST insurance product.

 

According to the CRFM, the World Bank also ensures that the project meets the development objectives outlined by the financial donors – the US Department of State – including incentivizing risk reduction and coordinating disaster management.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 16 December 2016 (CRFM)— There is still a long way to go but experts meeting here Thursday expressed optimism that slow but steady progress was being made toward introducing region-wide laws, rules and regulations intended to make Caribbean fish and seafood not only ready for world trade but safe for Caribbean tables.

The experts, drawn from fisheries, legal affairs, food health and safety and standards agencies across ten countries in the Caribbean Forum of ACP States (CARIFORUM), ended two days of deliberations on model legislation, protocols and guidelines for health and food safety related to fisheries and aquaculture.

“Still a long way to go but making progress,” said Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Milton Haughton at the workshop at the Accra Beach Hotel.

Milton Haughton-sps2-141216

Haughton said that following the workshop the draft model legislation is to be reviewed, and followed by another round of consultations held with stakeholders and a legal team before it can be finalised and submitted to regional policy-makers for consideration.

While not offering a timeline for the implementation of the legislation he stressed that improved standards and systems for sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) in fisheries are critical to the region socially and economically.

"We will reap good economic benefits when we have stronger systems that will assure, just not the safety but the quality of the products that we want to export. We will be able to access markets, international markets that we are not now able to access ," Haughton said.

The CRFM said the region’s export trade in fish and seafood trade earns about 315 million US dollars annually – a business that could boom or bust depending on how the region meets the global challenge of SPS standards.

British legal expert Chris Hedley, the project’s lead consultant, said the greatest challenge in drafting the legislation was making it nimble enough to adapt to rules and regulations which are frequently changing in the European Union.

Chris Hedley 12142016

Hedley cautioned that the United Kingdom following Brexit may soon be introducing its own standards as well.

"It is about trying to identify what things change all the time and try to make sure there is a flexible methodology as it were for updating those and making sure we make it as user friendly as possible for the government trying to implement these rules," Hedley said.

After final consultation and approval by the Belize-based CRFM, the region’s fisheries agency, the model laws and policies will then be recommended to CARICOM’s Council for Trade Economic Development (COTED), the regional bloc’s forum of trade ministers, as well as other CARICOM bodies.

The model fisheries and aquaculture SPS legislation would have to be enacted in each exporting nation. During the 18-month-old project, the model legislation has been developed in consultation with policymakers, fisherfolk, processors and other industry players.

Experts said the countdown is on towards the end of voluntary compliance with EU food safety standards, considered among the toughest in the world. Failure to meet EU standards would block CARIFORUM countries from tapping into niche markets overseas and boosting foreign exchange earnings, they stressed.

Investigations by the consultants on the project have exposed large gaps in legally binding protocols managing food safety throughout the region.

The experts found barriers to trade of fish and fisheries products due to inadequate SPS standards; minimal legislative standards for aquaculture; concern about food security and decreasing use of local, fresh seafood – the solution for which improved SPS support is an essential component, the CRFM said.

The two-day meeting was the high point of a European Union-funded project to help CARIFORUM countries introduce laws, regulations and a governance system to guarantee safe seafood for export to EU markets and beyond.

The project, which is being carried out by the Belize-based CRFM and supported by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), aims to ramp up food safety standards to enable CARIFORUM fish exporters to take up trading opportunities under the EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The project is financed under the EU’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project.

 

 

Food safety hazards, best practices in fish inspection, controls in aquaculture, traceability and modern approaches to laboratory testing and accreditation were the key areas covered

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Friday, 16 December 2016 (CRFM)—A two-week training covering “Food safety in the fishery sector” and “Fishery products laboratory testing” was delivered to 30 inspector and laboratory analysts from 15 CARIFORUM countries during the period 28 November to 9 December 2016, by four international experts.

The training, which covered inspection, control and testing in the fishery sector, was based on eight operational manuals developed under a project funded by the European Union (EU). The training was organized by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).

Food safety hazards, best international practices in fish inspection at each stage of the supply chain, controls in aquaculture, and traceability as well as modern approaches to laboratory testing and accreditation were among the key areas addressed. Particular attention was paid to explaining the sanitary requirements for exporting fishery and aquaculture products to the EU and markets in other developed countries. Practical work helped the participants to understand the role of rapid and field testing, to enable better decision-making on the safety of fishery products.

IMG 4740

After the course, rapid testing equipment was donated to participants to use in their home countries, and modern histamine testing equipment for assessing the safety of products such as tunas, was also donated to the Fisheries Department of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

Participants were drawn from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. Representatives from the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), based in Paramaribo, Suriname, also attended. The training was highly appreciated by all the participants.

IMG 4816

“This course will allow the streamlining of our laboratory testing capabilities and has provided a better understanding of what the EU wants,” said Avis O'Reilly-Richardson, Senior Chemist from the Food Safety & Technology Laboratory, Bahamas.

“There are many areas in my country where there are no controls; e.g. imports, fishing vessels, etc. The information received as well as the discussions with other participants will help me to develop systems for these controls in the future,” another participant said.

Dr. Susan Singh-Renton, CRFM’s Deputy Executive Director and CRFM's Project Coordinator, welcomed the course saying that it “…allowed the trainees to develop a stronger understanding of the full extent of laboratory and regulatory requirements for fulfilling international sanitary standards for fish and fishery products, and allowed them also to share lessons and best practices in considering possible solutions for many of the challenges faced in putting the methods into actual practice in their home countries.”

The project under whose umbrella the training falls is titled, “Capacity Building of regulatory and industry stakeholders in Aquaculture and Fisheries Health and Food Safety to meet the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) requirements of international trade.” It was funded under the EU’s “10th EDF Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project and delivered under the technical leadership of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, supported by a team of consultants from Megapesca in Portugal. The aim is to continue to help CARIFORUM countries to improve the safety of fish and fishery products for consumers in national and export markets.

Apart from the delivery of these training courses, the capacity building activity, which started in September 2016 and will run until January 2017, has prepared six new manuals to help fish inspectors apply the best international practices to the inspection of fishing vessels, processing establishments and aquaculture facilities. The subjects covered include Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), traceability, and for the first time, a compendium of food safety hazards encountered in Caribbean fishery products. In addition, two manuals were prepared under the project for laboratories on the testing of fishery products to ensure food safety and the accuracy of laboratory test results.

IMG 4933

The fishery sector is important for many countries in the region, as a source of employment and export revenues. Overall, in 2015, the CARIFORUM countries exported fishery products worth US$378 million to many countries around the world. Whilst 89% of this was from just five countries (Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago), the fishery sector of many other countries in the region delivers supplies directly to their tourist sector. The continued economic importance of the fishery revenue, therefore, depends on ensuring that products meet international sanitary standards. Governments in the region are, therefore, very interested in ensuring that regionally important food safety hazards, such a ciguatera and histamine, are under control.

The EU project “10th EDF Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project” has the expected result that capacities will be strengthened at the national and regional levels for health and food safety requirements of fisheries and aquaculture (inland, marine) products, which will also ensure safe food standards for fisheries products in the region, while meeting the requirements of the region's trading partners worldwide.

 

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 13 December 2016 (CRFM)—The fisheries industry on Wednesday moves one step closer to making the Caribbean fish and seafood trade safer and more profitable when experts meet in Barbados to finalise a raft of model regional laws, policies and procedures.

 

The Caribbean region’s ability to cash in on a potentially lucrative, international export trade in fish and seafood – already worth 315 million US dollars a year – is being held back by gaps in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) said.

 

But the experts, who are wrapping up an 18-month-long project to investigate fish handling policies and design a new seafood safety regime for the region’s fish and fishery products, are set to introduce a new regime for SPS measures in CARIFORUM states.

 

“The continued viability and further development of the fishing industry of the CRFM region face several challenges, some of which are related to inadequate development of SPS systems to suit the specific needs of fisheries and aquaculture operations,” said CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton ahead of the two-day meeting.

 

Haughton said the experts are meeting to bring forward work begun a year ago on preparing model legislation.

 

The meeting will unveil model fisheries and aquaculture SPS legislation that is to be presented to CARICOM with the intention of being enacted in each exporting nation. The model legislation has been developed in consultation and communication with policymakers, fisherfolk, processors and other industry players.

 

Compliance with globally established SPS standards is voluntary – a worrisome development that experts say is stopping member states from tapping into niche markets overseas and boosting foreign exchange earnings.

 

Investigations by international consultants on the project exposed large gaps in legally binding protocols managing food safety throughout the region.

 

The experts found barriers to trade of fish and fisheries products due to inadequate SPS standards; minimal legislative standards for aquaculture; concern about food security and decreasing use of local, fresh seafood – the solution for which improved SPS support is an essential component, the CRFM said.

 

With the impact of global environmental changes including climate change on the Caribbean, the regional fisheries agency said there is need for improved management and monitoring of the natural environment that sustains fisheries and aquaculture production.

 

The meeting is to be streamed live daily for regional media, industry figures, officials and anyone interested in fisheries and the safety and health of fish and seafood in the region, the CRFM said. The proceedings may be followed on the CRFM’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/TheCRFM.

 

Government officials from each CRFM member state are to review and endorse the final documents to allow final approval. These will then be recommended to CARICOM’s Council for Trade Economic Development (COTED), the regional bloc’s forum of trade ministers, as well as other CARICOM bodies.

 

The two-day meeting is the high point of a European Union-funded project to help CARIFORUM countries introduce laws, regulations and a governance system to guarantee safe seafood for export to EU markets and beyond.

 

The project, which is being carried out by the Belize-based CRFM and supported by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), aims to ramp up food safety standards to enable CARIFORUM fish exporters to take up trading opportunities under the EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The project is financed under the EU’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project.

 

Member login

Username and Password