Belize City, Friday, 8 October 2021 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), an inter-governmental organization of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), announced this week that several of its Member States in the CARICOM region had signed The International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry, also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’. The countries simultaneously affirmed their resolute support to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and transnational organized crime in the fishing industry by supporting the Declaration and the Blue Justice Initiative. The Initiative will help to strengthen cooperation among countries and build capacity to address transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry and to combat IUU Fishing.
Speaking at a regional meeting of CARICOM Ministers responsible for Fisheries and Blue Economic Growth on Monday, 4 October 2021, Hon. Saboto S. Caesar, Chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council, and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labor, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, described the situation as “a very difficult problem,” adding that much needs to be done to tackle this growing threat that has been undermining the progress of the region.
Hon. Saboto Caesar hosts high-level Ministerial Meeting.
“Available data indicate that IUU fishing accounts for up to 30% of the total global catch, valued at several billions of US dollars…,” Minister Caesar said, adding that “There is a growing body of evidence showing that drug traffickers, human traffickers, small arms traffickers, and traders in contraband goods, among others, are using fishing as a cover to conduct their nefarious activities.”
Minister Caesar said that the CRFM Member States are very grateful for the support and leadership being provided by the Government of Norway in tackling the problem, through efforts such as the Blue Justice Initiative and the Blue Resilience Project.
“We recognize the value of the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the global fishing industry that was done in Copenhagen, Denmark, in October 2018. It provides a solid framework for countries like ours in the Caribbean to work together with regional and international partners to better understand the problem, share information, and build the necessary legal, regulatory, monitoring, control, surveillance, and enforcement capacity to defeat and eradicate transnational organized crime and IUU fishing," Minister Caesar said.
The CRFM Ministerial Meeting was convened during the 16th Annual Caribbean Week of Agriculture to provide an opportunity for Caribbean countries to formally express their support by signing the declaration. Even ahead of the meeting with representatives from the Government of Norway, the CARICOM Secretariat, and other regional and international development partners, CRFM Member States began to express their resounding support for the instruments, and the Ministerial Council issued a resolution after its 15th Meeting held in May 2021, setting the stage for this week’s milestones.
Member States have attested to the monumental cost of IUU fishing to the region. Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica, detailed the quantifiable cost on Jamaica’s economy, which has lost billions of Jamaica dollars in earnings as well as thousands of jobs. The devastation caused by IUU fishing forced a 2-year moratorium on the queen conch fishery, implemented from 1 February 2019 to 31 March 2021, to allow the fishery time to recover.
“As it relates to queen conch fishing, it is estimated that over the last 20 years (since the year 2000), Jamaica has lost at least US$284 million due to foreign IUU fishing,” said Minister Shaw, who provided a conservative estimate based on illegal foreign motor fishing vessels caught in Jamaican waters and an extrapolation of the estimated average rate of poaching.
“The closure of the queen conch fishery possibly resulted in annual losses of approximately US$6 million in direct export earnings and loss of jobs for some 5,500 Jamaicans. The multiplier effect, resulting from the loss of jobs and export earnings may be as much as US$20 million during the 2-year period,” Minister Shaw added.
Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica, detailed the quantifiable cost on Jamaica’s economy.
Jamaica was one of the 12 CRFM Member States which signed the Copenhagen Declaration en bloc this week and simultaneously endorsed the Blue Justice Initiative. As of Friday, 8 October 2021, 12 CRFM Member States had deposited signed instruments with the CRFM Secretariat in Belize City, Belize. Those Member States are The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, The Turks and Caicos Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago.
"We need to continue to strengthen our collaboration, and I think we will begin to turn the tide on this very difficult issue that we are dealing with—of unlawfulness in the fishing industry and the depletion and degradation of our resources—and to sustainably use and develop these resources for the benefit of our people,” CRFM Executive Director, Mr. Milton Haughton, said, in addressing the Ministers.
Mr. Haughton added that going forward, the CRFM Secretariat will be collaborating with the UNDP and officials from Norway to organize a regional workshop involving technical officials from the Fisheries Departments and Maritime Security Agencies from Member States and Regional Institutions, to map out future needs and identify at least one high priority intervention to be supported under the Blue Justice Initiative.
“This is exciting! I want to take this opportunity to thank all the countries, the Ministers, and the Permanent Secretaries, that signed on to the declaration ... I also want to thank our colleagues from Norway, UNDP, FAO, UNODC, as well as our regional partners: CARICOM IMPACS and the Regional Security System (RSS) for the excellent support and collaboration," the CRFM Executive Director said in closing the meeting.
Belize City, Tuesday, 5 October 2021 (CRFM)—The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) held its Eleventh Special Meeting on Monday, 4 October 2021, and approved three resolutions which together chart a strategic and robust direction for the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector. The vision, which looks ahead to the year 2030, is for the effective management, conservation and sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture resources, to maximize social and economic benefits, such as food and nutrition security, and jobs in the CRFM Member States.
During the Eleventh Special Meeting, the Ministerial Council approved, by way of resolution, the Third CRFM Strategic Plan, 2022 – 2030. The Council directed the Caribbean Fisheries Forum (comprised of the Chief Fisheries Officers and Heads of Fisheries Departments in the 17 Member States), as well as the CRFM Secretariat and other partners to take appropriate action to develop and implement the programmes, plans and projects considered necessary to achieve the goals and objectives articulated in the Third CRFM Strategic Plan. The CRFM will collaborate closely with other stakeholders, regional and international development partners, and donors in implementing the CRFM Strategic Plan, which was prepared using a shorter, simpler, visually appealing, and illustrative format which is more user-friendly and suitable for wider dissemination to stakeholders and development partners.
Furthermore, the Ministers underscored the need for the CRFM and its Member States to significantly enhance the mobilization of financial and technical resources to support accelerated blue economic growth, particularly in respect of the living marine resources and sustainable aquaculture in the CARICOM Region. In this regard, the Ministerial Council also approved the CRFM Resource Mobilization Strategy, to also span 2022 to 2030.
The Ministers stressed the importance of giving high priority to mobilizing the financial and other resources required to implement the approved regional and national policies, and the Strategic Plan for the period 2022 to 2030, to improve food security, livelihoods, and economic and social resilience—especially considering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change on the food systems and economies of Member States.
The Council agreed that both the CRFM Strategic Plan and the Resource Mobilization Strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly over the 9-year period, to ensure that they remain relevant and responsive to the changing needs and realities in the Member States.
Finally, the Ministers approved a White Paper to guide the further development and approval of the Model Fisheries Legislation for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures for the CARICOM Region. The White Paper sets out the Council’s proposals and policy position concerning the CARICOM Model SPS Fisheries legislation.
The legislation is comprised of the Draft Model Aquatic Animal Health Bill and the Draft Model Aquatic Food Safety Regulations, which are being developed with funding from the European Union. They are aimed at assuring safety and quality of fish and seafood available for domestic as well as export markets, in line with international standards, while improving the income of fishers and maximizing economic gains for the sector.
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NOTE: Access the following resources via our website: https://crfm.int/ or click the links below for direct access.
The overall objective of the CRFM Resource Mobilization Strategy is to ensure that there is a clear, systematic, predictable, coordinated approach to soliciting, acquiring, managing, reporting, monitoring, and evaluating the use of funds and assistance received from donors and International Development Partners, and for expanding and strengthening the relationship between the CRFM and donors to ensure adequate and sustainable resources are availability to support implementation of the policies, programmes and strategic plans approved by the Ministerial Council.
These include the commitments laid down in the Agreement establishing the CRFM, The Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy and its Protocols, the CRFM Strategic Plans, and other approved regional policy documents. To achieve this, the CRFM will need sufficient, predictable and sustained contributions in the form of funds and technical assistance from Member States, bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors and regional and international development partners.
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The task to develop the Third CRFM Strategic Plan started in 2020 with an independent performance review of the CRFM. The review process was facilitated by extensive consultation and participation by Member States, development partners and stakeholders at all levels in the region. Interviews with key stakeholders were done both in-person and virtually, in collaboration with the CRFM Secretariat.
The target groups were Chief Fisheries Officers, Directors of Fisheries or Fisheries Administrator from the CRFM countries, Ministers and Permanent Secretaries / Chief Executive Officer of the respective countries, CRFM staff, fisherfolks, fishing enterprises, processors, exporters, research and academic institutions, NGOs, from CRFM countries and representatives from CRFM partner institutions.
Also, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum held four Special Meetings and the CRFM Ministerial held one Special Meetings specifically to provide oversight and guidance for the review process and preparation of the Strategic Plan. These official and informal engagements provided invaluable inputs and guidance that contributed to the elaboration and validation of the Third CRFM Strategic Plan.
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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/
ABOUT THE CRFM:
The 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.
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.
It has been brought to our attention that constraints may be encountered in the submission of Proposals by physical mail, to reach the CRFM Secretariat in Belize by 8am Central Standard Time on 2 December 2019.
Against the above, kindly note the following option that can be used:
Submission of proposals by Electronic mail as follows:
All electronic submissions should reach the above email accounts by 8am Central Standard Time on 2 December 2019.
Note that hard copies of all proposals should still be sent by physical mail to the CRFM Secretariat in Belize. These should reach our office by 9 December 2019.
Title of the Request for Proposal (RfP):
Technical support to Mainstreaming Gender Equality in Fisheries in the Caribbean
Date of this RfP: 13 November 2019
Closing Date for Receipt of RfP: 8.00am Central Standard Time on 2 December 2019
RfP Reference: CLME/MGFC/01/19
SUMMARY OF THE ACTION
The purpose of this assignment is to provide technical support to mainstreaming gender equality in fisheries in the CARICOM / CRFM States. The main target countries for field activities are the CRFM Members (SIDS) involved in the flyingfish fisheries, namely, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The main deliverables expected are:
Click the attachment links for the full Request for Proposal.
CRFM has just published its latest Research Paper Collection (Volume 9) that tells us what the fisheries sector can expect from climate change – regional maps showing changes in our fish and shellfish populations, estimates of harder economic times, with less fish to catch, less money to make, and less fresh fish for the local consumer.
The scientists and advisors who guided these latest studies were on the ground in St. Lucia during 28 October – 1 November 2019 to train 14 Caribbean-based fisheries experts. The Training Workshop covered methods and tools for including climate change information into existing monitoring programmes, and for managing access and use of the information in meeting fisheries management needs.
Trainees came mostly from 5 countries and 2 regional agencies participating in the Investment Plan for the Caribbean Regional Track of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (CRT-PPCR), implemented by the Mona Office for Research and Innovation at the University of the West Indies with grant funding from the Climate Investment Fund through the Inter-American Development Bank.
The CRFM is co-implementing the marine sub-component of the Project, and the St. Lucia Workshop was part of an assignment intended to strengthen information and stakeholder knowledge about the ecological and socio-economic impacts of climate change, and to install a supporting monitoring system for maintaining the information and knowledge base. ESSA Technologies Ltd., an environmental science consulting firm based in Canada, has provided the under-pinning scientific expertise.
The training sessions were designed to build on priority areas agreed during earlier planning and technical consultation phases, and included training in a range of methods and tools, including: species distribution modelling; market fish supply-demand modelling; climate-intelligent monitoring for speaking to several “Big Questions’ that Caribbean fisheries managers would need to answer in addressing the extra challenge of climate change impacts; adaptation and marine spatial planning and decision-making, and; storage and access of data, information and knowledge products via a CRFM Portal arrangement.
By the end of the 5-day training session, the Caribbean trainees had also participated in various individual and group practice exercises that included: use of the freely available statistical software R, use of freely available geographical information system software (QGIS) for marine spatial planning applications, development of customized fisheries monitoring cards, role playing with adaptation planning scenario analyses, and use of the CRFM portal being developed for managing use of the data and information base. The training also touched on communication tools for achieving changes in behaviour of target groups.
When training ended, and participants were asked to evaluate the activity, the response was mostly a clear ‘thumbs up’. Hermione Elcock from Grenada (a project pilot country) confirmed that for the training, “Resources were relevant”, while Elizabeth Mohammed who participated as an observer from Trinidad and Tobago highlighted that the “Training approach was successful in targeting an audience of diverse knowledge, experience and skills”. Getting used to using ‘R’ presented the most challenge for trainees, but of course the training session time only allowed for an introduction to ‘R’, and follow up practice is expected.
Following the Workshop, two of the trainees shared some additional important reflections on the significance of what took place at this milestone PPCR Workshop.
Elizabeth Mohammed offered her congratulations to ESSA Technologies Ltd, the CRFM Secretariat and to the PPCR countries for delivering so comprehensively on this Project, remarking, “I am astounded at the quantity and quality of the outputs”. Ms. Mohammed went on to say that “In so far as quantifying the ecological and socio-economic impacts of climate change on fisheries at a scale that is useful for countries to make climate-resilient decisions - it is indeed the first time we have done this. We now have the basic tools and a standardized monitoring framework that will allow us to refine, repeat or upscale the analyses over time, and by this means, also to assess whether we are achieving the desired outcomes and how to adapt our strategies accordingly.”
Likewise, Junior Squire from Jamaica (a project pilot country), echoed the same sentiments and added also that “I do believe the CRFM Portal will provide the right medium to stimulate a culture change from one of hoarding to one of sharing information among Member States”.
Susan Singh-Renton, who is leading this work from the CRFM side, expressed her own satisfaction so far about the full range of work done under the present impact assessment and monitoring assignment, saying that “The CRT-PPCR has been very crucial for us in the fisheries sector to break out of a state of not knowing exactly where we are in fisheries relative to climate change impacts. When the fishermen are saying that they have to go farther and deeper to catch fish, we now have the science to prove them right and this is a game-changer!”
BELIZE CITY, FRIDAY, 4 OCTOBER 2019 (CRFM)—After several hours of deliberation at their Second Joint Meeting held in Belize on Wednesday, 2 October 2019, Fisheries Ministers from Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA) inked a milestone instrument. The “Declaration on CRFM-OSPESCA Cooperation for Sustainable Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources” signals their resolve to solidify the cooperation birthed at their first joint meeting held in Belize 7 years earlier, in 2012.
Among the agreed areas of cooperation are: monitoring and managing Sargassum blooms which have been adversely affecting the region since 2011; the control of invasive species, with emphasis on the Pacific lionfish; and the development of small-scale fisheries to ensure the protection of livelihoods and food security. The renewed alliance will also support the implementation of fisheries management plans for shared stocks, such as spiny lobster, queen conch and migratory pelagic species; programmes on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in fisheries and aquaculture; as well as ocean-based fisheries and aquaculture economic activities, including value chain development.
The CRFM and OSPESCA countries have, furthermore, pledged to develop coordinated positions on international processes, such as the listing of threatened and endangered species under CITES; fisheries subsidies negotiations led by the WTO; and the UN conference to develop a legally-binding agreement on conservation, management and sustainable use of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
Representatives from Grenada and Guatemala sign joint declaration (Photo: CRFM)
In signing the Joint Declaration, the Fisheries Ministers also approved the Second Joint CRFM-OSPESCA Action Plan (2020 to 2025), which is a 5-year roadmap to guide collaborative programmes and activities agreed in the declaration by the two sub-regional organisations.
Among the commitments made is that, “The CRFM and OSPESCA Secretariats and Member States will work together to strengthen cooperation to deter, prevent and eliminate IUU [Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated] fishing in the region.”
At the opening of the meeting, Keynote Speaker, Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s Minister of State with responsibility for Fisheries, said: “IUU Fishing is undoubtedly causing damage to our fish populations in our countries, and we must continue to actively identify and implement tangible and effective actions on a bilateral or sub-regional level to curb these illicit activities.”
Prior to the meeting with OSPESCA, the CRFM Ministerial Council held its 9th Special Meeting, at which it approved the Regional Plan of Action on IUU Fishing for the Western Central Atlantic region, with a commitment to developing a CARICOM-specific Action Plan. The Jamaican delegation pointed out to their counterparts that IUU fishing recently forced them to impose a moratorium on their conch fishery, resulting in multi-million-dollar losses for the country, its export sector and fishers. Their hope is that the collaboration with OSPESCA will help to effectively prevent and deter IUU fishing in Caribbean waters.
Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM Secretariat, added that, “It is the recognition that we share a common interest and a common destiny in the sustainable use and protection of the Caribbean Sea and its living marine resources and ecosystems that inspires and underpins the partnership that is developing between the Caribbean and Central American sub-regions in fisheries and aquaculture.”
Hon. Eugene Hamilton, Chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council and Minister Responsible for Fisheries in Saint Kitts and Nevis, said: “It is predicted that 90% of the world’s fish protein will come from aquaculture by 2050.” He, consequently, urged the countries, generally regarded as small island developing states and coastal states, to work together to develop aquaculture.
Norma Lobo, General Director for the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture, represented the Minister of Agriculture of El Salvador, Pro-Tempore Chairman of OSPESCA, at the meeting. In her brief remarks, she indicated that this was the first such meeting in which she has participated, and expressed her enthusiasm for learning more about the challenges faced by the region and, furthermore, working together to confront them.
Haughton expressed optimism that, “This growing strategic partnership between our countries, our fisheries institutions and our stakeholders in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, will yield tangible mutual benefit from our collective experience, expertise and cooperation in addressing the common challenges we face.”
The UNDP-GEF Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+) Project provided financial support to facilitate the convening of the meeting in Belize City, Belize. It has also been providing support to the CRFM, OSPESCA, FAO/WECAFC, UN Environment and other regional organisations to strengthen arrangements for improved governance and management of the fisheries resources and marine environment of the region.