Belize City, Friday, 28 April 2023 (CRFM)—The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), comprised of Ministers responsible for fisheries from across the Caribbean Community, met on Thursday, 27 April 2023, to chart the way forward for the revitalization and expansion of the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector—a goal which lies at the heart of the CRFM’s observance of its 20th Anniversary this year. During Thursday’s deliberations, the Ministers approved 32 resolutions, as they reviewed progress and mapped out sustainable solutions to challenges such as fisheries management; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and fisheries crime; climate change and ocean acidification; imbalances in international trade; and Sargassum influxes which are expected to reach record levels this year. Furthermore, the Ministers provided guidance and policy direction to the CRFM Secretariat and Member States on harnessing the opportunities arising in the emerging Blue Economy, through initiatives such as a new multimillion-dollar regional project to promote blue economic growth.
Hon. Avinash Singh, Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Trinidad and Tobago, chaired the Seventeenth Meeting of the CRFM Ministerial Council. Trinidad and Tobago took over the reins of the Council from Hon. Parmanand Sewdien, Suriname’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, for a one-year term.
Hon. Singh acknowledged the contributions of the CRFM Secretariat in providing technical support to the Ministers during the proceedings, and for making impactful representations for Member States that benefit the entire region. He added that he looked forward to a very productive term ahead, as the CRFM continues to navigate the waters, in providing a sustainable future for the younger generations to follow.
Ministers map out sustainable solutions to challenges such as fisheries management, climate change, capacity building, imbalances in international trade, and Sargassum influxes
CARICOM countries depend on fishing for food, social welfare, employment, and much more (Photo: CRFM)
At their meeting on Thursday, the Ministers adopted the Protocol to the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy on Aquatic Foods as a Strategic Resource for Food and Nutrition Security—the third protocol adopted under the regional fisheries policy. The protocol’s objective is to recognize, promote, and support the sustainable use of fish, shellfish, marine plants and seafood as a strategic resource for food and nutrition security for the peoples of the Caribbean.
Although fish production in our region is expanding, the Caribbean is still a major importer of fish and seafood. However, CRFM’s Executive Director, Mr. Milton Haughton, noted that there are projects and initiatives being implemented that should improve availability and access to safe and affordable fish and seafood to the people of the region. He announced that a US$48 million project—the CAF/FAO/CRFM/GEF/Caribbean Blue Economy Project entitled, Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities Through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus or the BE-CLME+ Project—should commence around July 2023. The Fisheries Ministers welcomed the final approval of the Project Document by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) in November 2022, paving the way for the disbursement of funds and commencement of the project. The funding includes a US$25 million line of credit co-financed by the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) for fisheries enterprises in the private sector to upgrade their capacities and develop fisheries value chains.
Mr. Milton Haughton, Executive Director,
Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (Photo: CRFM)
The Ministers also welcomed the updates on the efforts by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism and the New Zealand Plant and Food Research (PFR), under the project entitled, Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience in the Caribbean. With support from New Zealand, technical experts in agronomy, technology, engineering and business development, the CRFM and PFR are pursuing the production of liquid fertilizers, compost, and other potential products, while ensuring that any health risks associated with doing so are eliminated through the processing of the Sargassum. Haughton noted that there is a great need for affordable fertilizers for agriculture, much of which is imported. The University of the West Indies and Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) are key partners in this initiative. The intention is to develop processes, technologies, products, and business models that can be made available to potential entrepreneurs from the region, thereby creating jobs and economic activities while mitigating the negative environmental, health and socio-economic impacts of the Sargassum seaweed.
The Ministers issued a strong resolution establishing a roadmap to strengthen measures to prevent “ghost fishing” or abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), which is one of the most harmful forms of marine debris. Since 2018, the CRFM and the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) have collaborated on prevention, mitigation, remediation, predictive modeling and capacity sharing work in the Caribbean. The CRFM Secretariat will now execute a Memorandum of Understanding with the GGGI for enhanced cooperation and coordination in addressing ghost fishing in the region.
Sargassum sampling for testing off the coast of Belize in 2021, during phase 1 of the project (Photo: CRFM)
The Ministers commended the CRFM Secretariat and international development partners for the significant work done and outputs achieved during the past programme year. This body of work included various policies developed and adopted, projects advanced, technical publications completed, training and capacity building support provided, and advances in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and fisheries crime, improving sanitary and phytosanitary systems, strengthening data and information systems, as well as significant contributions to international processes.
This included the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, which was adopted on 17 June 2022, after 21 years of talks. The Ministers urged Member States to take the necessary actions to accept and implement the agreement as soon as possible. However, they are asking Member States to consult all key stakeholders to ensure that all relevant issues are taken into account and that the full implications of the agreement are understood prior to accepting and enshrining it into national law or policies. They furthermore urged Member States to continue working with the CARICOM and CRFM Secretariats in the process of acceptance and implementation of the agreement, and also the future negotiations to address the remaining issues and gaps that could not have been addressed when the current agreement was concluded in 2022.
The Ministers also took note of the recent conclusion of international negotiations that resulted in the formulation of the UN Agreement on Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction in March 2023, and they urged Member States to take advantage of the opportunities to obtain tangible, sustainable benefits from the biodiversity in the marine areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The Fisheries Ministers welcomed the development of the Regional Strategic Framework for Cooperation between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and CARICOM Member States (2020-2026). The Ministers are asking the CRFM Secretariat to work with the IAEA, which has the largest marine lab in the world, located in Monaco, and other regional partners to facilitate and coordinate cooperation activities in fisheries management, aquaculture development, marine biodiversity conservation, ocean acidification, combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and seafood fraud, and other relevant areas where the expertise of IAEA can add value.
The policymakers also endorsed the Convention on Biological Diversity Global Biodiversity Framework , which was adopted by the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention in December 2022. The Convention on Biological Biodiversity is a global treaty adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. The framework sets out the global biodiversity agenda for the next decade, with the overarching goal of living in harmony with nature by 2050—a vision which the CARICOM Fisheries Ministers also endorsed.
The Council reviewed the status of a request made to FAO and reaffirmed the priority accorded to that request, for securing the services of the modern Norwegian marine survey vessel, the Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, to conduct a comprehensive survey of the marine resources in the offshore waters of CARICOM States, to support blue economic development and sustainable use of the living marine resources.
The Council is due to meet again in special session in October 2023.
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Over the past 20 years, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism has played a leading role in addressing fisheries issues and priorities on the international stage. Here, three CRFM policymakers (Ministers from Belize, Jamaica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) partnered with the Minister of Fisheries of Norway to boldly address the challenge of Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) Fishing and Transnational Organized Crime in the global fishing industry. The CRFM partnered with Norway in hosting a side event at the 2022 UN Ocean Conference. Photo: Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries
Belize City, Friday, 7 October 2022 (CRFM)—Fisheries Ministers from across Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) issued a formal statement at the end of their 12th Special Meeting held on Friday, 7 October 2022, announcing a year-long celebration in 2023, to observe the 20th Anniversary of the CRFM.
The celebration will showcase the vital contributions of fisheries and aquaculture to the regional and national economies, and to food and nutrition security, livelihoods, job creation, trade, and blue economic growth.
In their deliberations today, the Ministerial Council of the CRFM also took some important decisions to, among other things, advance small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the region, in collaboration with fisherfolk organizations as well as regional and international development partners and donors.
The full Ministerial Statement on the CRFM's Anniversary celebration appears below:
Friday, 7 October 2022
The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM)—comprised of Ministers responsible for Fisheries across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)—meeting at their 12th Special Meeting held on Friday, 7 October 2022, hereby declare that 2023 shall be observed and celebrated as the 20th Anniversary of the CRFM.
The Fisheries Ministers note that 2023 will mark 20 years since the CRFM was officially inaugurated as a specialized, inter-governmental CARICOM Regional Institution to “promote and facilitate the responsible utilization of the region's fisheries and other aquatic resources for the economic and social benefits of the current and future population of the region.”
In this regard, the Ministerial Council reaffirms its full support for the CRFM@20 Action Plan and calls upon the CRFM Secretariat, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the CARICOM Secretariat and our regional and international development partners and donors to support its implementation.
The Ministers note that the CRFM’s 20th Anniversary campaign will focus on the CRFM’s achievements over the past two decades and inspire a fresh vision for the future of the fisheries and aquaculture sector, while seizing new opportunities for maximizing the benefits of the Blue Economy for sustainable development of our countries and the welfare of our people.
The Fisheries Ministers underscore the important value of the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the regional and national economies of CARICOM, and the critical importance of its contributions towards achieving the mandate issued by the CARICOM Heads of Government at the Thirty-third Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference, to reduce the region’s food import bill by 25% by 2025.
The Ministers also emphasize the sector’s unique role in sustainably harnessing the vast and diverse wealth of the Blue Economy. This unparalleled value of the sector will be brought into focus during the CRFM’s Anniversary Celebrations, with special emphasis on sustainable livelihoods and employment, food security and nutrition, and domestic and foreign trade.
The Ministerial Council of the CRFM unreservedly reiterates its full support for all activities outlined in the CRFM@20 Action Plan, including the 3-day Scientific Conference and series of webinars on important topical issues on fisheries, aquaculture and blue economic growth which the CRFM will convene as a part of the CRFM’s 20th Anniversary celebrations, to highlight the scientific contributions of the CRFM, its Member States, and regional and international partners, to the advancement of the sector.
- ENDS -
Belize City, Friday, 24 June 2022 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the CARICOM institution designated as the region’s intergovernmental organization responsible for fisheries development and management, is partnering with Norway, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Blue Resilience Project, to host a high-level side event addressing organized crime in the global fisheries industry at the UN Oceans Conference 2022. The side event will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, on Wednesday, 29 June.
During the high-level side event, which will highlight international and regional measures to address fisheries crime towards reducing food security threats with innovative digital tools and inter-agency capacity support, CRFM’s Executive Director, Mr. Milton Haughton, will chair a panel on CARICOM’s regional instruments to address fisheries crime. This event advances the efforts of partners to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and transnational organized crime in the fishing industry, while protecting food security, employment, and the blue economy.
Hon. Pearnel Charles, Jr, MP - Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica; Hon. Andre Perez - Minister of the Blue Economy & Civil Aviation, Belize; and Hon. Saboto Caesar - Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry & Labour, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, will join in this discussion on fisheries enforcement and the international and regional instruments to cooperatively tackle organized crime in the global fishing industry. Also joining the panel will be Ms. Emma Witbooi, Project Manager of Blue Resilience, UNDP; and Mr. Gunnar A. Stølsvik, Specialist Director, Fisheries Department at the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.
This is the first time the CRFM is collaborating with Norway to raise the profile of this issue at the UN Oceans Conference, and it serves to strengthen the alliance which began to be forged after the CRFM and its Member States endorsed the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as ‘the Copenhagen Declaration’) and affirmed their support for the Blue Justice Initiative. Belize, Jamaica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are among the 12 CRFM Member States which signed the Copenhagen Declaration in October 2021.
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NOTE TO EDITORS:
Website & Registration Link:https://bluejustice.org/un-ocean-conference-2022/
Live stream link: https://app.livecasts.eu/international-and-caribbean-efforts-to-address-organised-crime-in-the-fishing-industry/program
Date: Wednesday, 29 June 2022
Time: 15:45-17:15 CET (equivalent to 8:45 a.m. in Belize, 9:45 a.m. in
Jamaica, and 10:45 a.m. in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.)
Follow event on the CRFM’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/CarFisheries
Belize City, Friday, 8 April 2022 (CRFM)—Several Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) are participating in the 7th Meeting of Ministers in Charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), being hosted in Accra, Ghana, 5-8 April 2022.
The Ministerial Meeting, which opened on 7 April, was preceded by two days of engagements in which senior technical officials from eight (8) CRFM Member States and the Dominican Republic, joined by the Executive Director of the CRFM Secretariat in Belize, had an opportunity to collaborate with their counterparts from Africa and the Pacific region to formulate recommendations for Ministerial action. The decisions of this Ministerial Meeting of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) would form the basis for activities in its two-year workplan for the cross-regional organization.
OACPS is an organization comprised of seventy-nine (79) Member States from three (3) regional blocs: Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. It works towards sustainable development and poverty reduction within its Member States and greater integration into the world’s economy. It is against this backdrop that the organization places strong emphasis on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, while promoting a vision for the OACPS Blue Economy Agenda 2030.
Many of the items on the meeting's agenda have also been on the table at regional meetings of the CRFM. These include blue economic growth based on the marine resources; strengthening sustainable small-scale fisheries to improve livelihoods, food security and nutrition in the region; preventing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which the CRFM believes should encompass the broader issue of organized crime in the fishing industry. This region advocates for stronger international and regional cooperation as well as stronger sanctions and penalties in law to effectively deter IUU fishing and other criminal activities associated with it, including human, drugs and arms trafficking, money laundering, and seafood fraud.
The Ministers agreed to scale up sustainable and inclusive fisheries and aquaculture value chains. They also discussed and agreed to take action to strengthen ocean-based programs for adaptation and mitigation of Climate Change and ocean acidification as well as preserving maritime spaces of Member States amid receding baselines resulting from sea-level rise and coastal erosion due to changing climate.
BELIZE CITY, 3 APRIL 2020 (CRFM)—The vital need to enhance economic growth and sustainable development in the Caribbean by investing in the blue economy was the focus of a 2-day regional workshop held in Belize City, on 5-6 March 2020. The workshop was organized by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) in collaboration with the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to pave the way forward for a new US$46 million project titled, “Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities Through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus (BE: CLME+).” The CRFM, an inter-governmental CARICOM agency, is the executing agency for the 4-year project, which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with a grant of US$6.2 million and co-financing of US$40.1 million.
Government representatives from the six participating countries--Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama and Saint Lucia—attended the workshop, while other stakeholders participated remotely via tele-conference. Workshop participants are now working together with the CRFM and co-implementing agencies, CAF and FAO, supported by a consulting team of experts in marine spatial planning, marine protected areas, fisheries value chain and gender, to prepare the detailed project document and work plan. The workshop was also attended by representatives from several regional partners such as CERMES-UWI, SICA/OSPESCA from Central America, the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations and the UNDP/GEF CLME+ Project Coordinating Unit and CLME+ SAP Interim Coordination Mechanism.
“The BE: CLME+ project aims to overcome the barriers to achieving national, climate-resilient and sustainable fisheries in blue economies in the Caribbean,” Dr. Yvette Diei Ouadi, FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Officer and Secretary of Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission, said during the project’s Inception Workshop.
Dr. Lennox Gladden, Belize’s Chief Climate Change Officer, Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development, underscored the critical value of the BE: CLME+ project towards achieving sustainable economic development and improving resilience in the coastal zone, and the tourism and fisheries sectors, spurring vibrant growth and providing economic and social benefits to enhance the quality of life as envisaged in Belize’s national development policies and plans.
The project’s three components aim to ensure (i) cross-sectoral marine spatial planning; (iii) inclusive sustainable fisheries value chains; and (iii) regional coordination, project management and knowledge management. The intent is that by the end of the project, there would be marine spatial plans developed at both the regional and national levels, as well as blue economy strategies for the participating countries. Furthermore, the project will support the creation and expansion of areas that benefit from effective area-based management, such as marine management areas and marine protected areas that recognize the need for access from a range of stakeholders in a manner that reduces the risk of conflicts.
Mr. Milton Haughton, CRFM Executive Director, noted that, “Marine spatial planning is a tool to create and establish a more rational organization of the use of marine ecosystems and the interactions between their users and uses; to balance demands for economic growth and development with the need to protect the environment and to achieve social objectives in an open and planned way.”
The BE: CLME+ project is being designed by a team that is cognizant of the need for a participatory approach, sensitive to the challenges that now confront the region—ranging from climate change impacts, marine pollution and irresponsible fishing to the coronavirus COVID-19 disease. The team is committed to the need for social inclusion, participation of indigenous groups and gender mainstreaming.
Mrs. Luciana Fainstain, Executive of the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the Bank’s in-house Gender Specialist, acknowledged the need for the project to go beyond women’s issues, considering also the need to incorporate the new masculinities relevant to young men.
The project’s budget includes US$ 25 million in co-financing from the Development Bank of Latin America, to provide lines of credit through national financial institutions to support the development of fisheries value chains. In addition to marine spatial planning, another component of the project focuses on the development of sustainable seafood value chains, which could support innovations in utilizing current catches and discards to make more profitable products, ranging from consumer-friendly value-added seafood products for human consumption, to dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals and beauty products. The third project component focuses on knowledge management and dissemination of experiences and lessons learnt in support of the GEF-funded IW Learn Platform (https://iwlearn.net/) and CLME+ SAP.
The BE: CMLE+ participating countries are among the 32 countries and overseas territories that have endorsed the 10-year Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the sustainable management of shared Living Marine Resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+ region), which was developed under a previous GEF-funded project.
Mr. Haughton expressed gratitude to the countries and key partners which have been supporting the initiative and emphasized the need for continued strong partnerships and cooperation among all stakeholders in realizing the potential of the marine sector in the Caribbean.
BELIZE CITY, 4 MARCH 2020 (CRFM)—A new US$46 million initiative to promote Blue Economic priorities in the Caribbean, in support of the sustainable use and conservation of the region’s vast and diverse marine ecosystems and resources, gets underway with a two-day inception workshop on 5-6 March at the Best Western Plus Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City.
Marine ecosystems account for over 80 percent of CARICOM States and territories, supporting not just fisheries, but also tourism, ocean transportation, energy, and other economic pillars. They are also critical to the sustainable livelihoods of coastal communities and food security for markets even beyond their borders. Despite threats that confront the region—not the least of which are climate change, ocean acidification, marine pollution and irresponsible fishing—the Blue Economy model still holds great promise.
The current initiative, entitled “Blue Economy (BE): Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus (CLME+): Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus,” is a 4-year project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with a grant of US$6.2 million and co-financing of US$40.1 million. The Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) will be the lead implementing agency while FAO will be a co-implementing agency. The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will be the project executing agency. The GEF-funded “BE-CLME+ Project” will promote blue economy development in the Caribbean region through marine spatial planning and marine protected areas, the ecosystem approach to fisheries, and development of sustainable fisheries value chains.
The expected results of the project include focused climate-smart investments into national and regional marine spatial planning (MSP) efforts that inform development and implementation of national blue economy strategies. The multi-country project will also focus on extending or strengthening marine protected areas to preserve marine ecosystems and ensure sustainable livelihoods to coastal and fishery communities. The project is also expected to result in the establishment of a regional MSP for ecosystem-based fisheries, inclusive sustainable fisheries value chains, and new or expanded marine protected areas in at least five Caribbean countries. It will also support improvements in knowledge management, monitoring and evaluation, based upon knowledge and experiences from the project and experiences with climate-resilient blue economies from other regions and other Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters projects, in partnership with IW: LEARN (the GEF’s International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network).
The Inception Workshop, to be held on 5-6 March, will be attended by representatives of the six participating countries: Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama and Saint Lucia, as well as partner agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Development Bank of Latin America, SICA/OSPESCA, UWI-CERMES, JICA, UNDP-GEF CLME+ Project and the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisation (CNFO). Officials from the CRFM, CAF, FAO/WECAFC and the Belize Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development will address participants at the opening ceremony, to be convened at 9:00 a.m. on 5 March.
It is expected that at the conclusion of the workshop, the participating States and partners will have agreed on the main activities, milestones and timeline to develop the detailed project document and workplan for submission to the GEF for consideration by November 2020.