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, BELIZE, Thursday, 26 April 2018 (CRFM)—At its recent annual meeting in Montserrat, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum framed a set of recommendations that will be submitted to regional policy-makers at the 12th Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), slated for 18 May 2018 in Montserrat.
The Forum’s recommendations include measures for boosting production in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, risk insurance for fisheries, ongoing challenges to fisheries subsidies, gender mainstreaming, and the development of critical fishery management plans.
The Forum noted that the overall trend in total marine fish production of the CRFM Member States since 2005 is one of increasing production, with continued improvements over the 2015-2016 period. However, the region is a net importer of fisheries products. Latest data indicate that imports for the year 2016 totaled US$281.5 million, while exports were valued at US$256.2 million. Concerns were expressed that there are still gaps in the data and the Forum stressed the need for Member States to continue improving upon the collection and sharing of fisheries data, including trade data, in order to foster greater understanding and to strengthen management and development of the regions fisheries and aquaculture resources.
The Forum Meeting discussed a series of fisheries management plans, such as plans for the Blackfin Tuna and the Caribbean Billfish, as well as management plans for the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). These regional plans are aimed at improving cooperation among countries to ensure effective conservation, management and sustainable use of the fisheries and to protect the marine ecosystems.
Another important regional development relates to the introduction of co-management arrangements for specific fisheries, including FADs and fish pot fisheries in the Eastern Caribbean States that participated in the Japanese-funded Caribbean Fisheries Co-management (CARIFICO) Project. The Forum reviewed the outcome of the project and future steps for continued improvements on co-management and participatory approaches to achieve sustainable and profitable fisheries in the region.
The importance of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management plans to reduce vulnerability and improve resilience in the fisheries sector was prominent on the agenda. Among the key initiatives currently underway are the establishment of an early warning system for fishers using a mobile app, and the development of insurance policies. There are two separate insurance products being developed: one is a sovereign parametric policy which would be available for purchase by governments and the other is a basic livelihood protection policy for purchase by individual small-scale fishers.
The USA-sponsored Caribbean Oceans and Aquaculture Sustainability Facility (COAST) is being developed by the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility Segregated Portfolio Company (CCRIF SPC) in collaboration with the World Bank, CRFM and other partners. The COAST insurance policy is intended to serve as a platform for innovative financing to address food and livelihood security and climate change. Incentives would be given through the risk insurance policy to implement measures that contribute to sustainable and climate resilient fisheries management and disaster risk reduction.
The need for livelihood protection was underscored by the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean during the 2017 hurricane season. The Forum expressed its full support for the development of a protocol to incorporate climate change adaptation and disaster risk management into the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy.
The Forum also reviewed and supported the development of a Gender Policy for the fisheries sector, and a regional Protocol on securing sustainable small-scale fisheries for Caribbean Community fisherfolk and societies. This protocol is being developed under the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy.
The recommendations were developed in order to protect the region’s fisheries resources from the threat of overexploitation and emerging threats such as climate change and warming oceans. They also aim to enhance the livelihoods, social welfare and wealth creation from the marine resources. According to CRFM’s Executive Director, Milton Haughton, the time has arrived for the CARICOM countries to pay more careful attention and make the investments necessary to protect and fully utilize our coastal and ocean resources for sustainable development.
The 16th meeting of the Forum was the first meeting of the CRFM held in Montserrat, one of the 17 Member States of the CRFM, due to the destruction of the capital city, Plymouth, by the Soufrière Hills volcano which began erupting in the mid 1990s.