CRFM Member States highlight Caribbean Instruments and new Norway collaboration to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry
Published Thursday, 4 August 2022 by the CRFM Secretariat
Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported Fishing (also called IUU Fishing) has been on the radar of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and its seventeen (17) Member States for more than a decade. The commitment of the CRFM and its Member States to address this very challenging and persistent problem has been unwavering, and the timeline below features the major milestones attained over the past 12 years–the most recent of which is the CRFM’s support of the International Declaration against Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the Copenhagen Declaration) and the Norwegian supported Blue Justice Initiative.
These provide an international framework which complements the Caribbean framework, developed under the auspices of the CRFM, guided at the policy level by its Ministerial Council.
At a side event at the UN Ocean Conference, held in Lisbon, Portugal on 29 June 2022, the CRFM co-hosted a panel with the Blue Justice Secretariat, Norway and the Blue Justice Initiative on Caribbean and international efforts and mechanisms for combating IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry.
"It is a very difficult problem that requires enhanced regional and international cooperation and collaboration to effectively eradicate."
- Dr. Gavin Bellamy, CRFM Representative (Jamaica)
Dr. Gavin Bellamy, Chief Executive Officer, National Fisheries Authority, Government of Jamaica, affirmed that “...governments [in the Caribbean Community - CARICOM] have accorded high priority to combating fisheries crime in the region. It is a very difficult problem that requires enhanced regional and international cooperation and collaboration to effectively eradicate.”
Dr. Gavin Bellamy
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
He said that, “The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has been coordinating regional efforts to prevent, deter, and eradicate IUU fishing and crimes in the fisheries sector.” He added that despite the progress made, there was still a long way yet to go.
H.E. Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran, Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway, describes IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry as a threat to our common future. He cautioned that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be attained unless this problem is addressed.
"Through the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism in CARICOM, no less than 12 [Caribbean] countries have decided to join the [Copenhagen] Declaration… In May 2021, the Caribbean ministers started with a resolution endorsing the Copenhagen Declaration and pledging support for the Blue Justice Initiative as frameworks for regional and international cooperation to combat organized crime in the fishing industry,” H.E. Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran said.
H.E. Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
The Caribbean countries are among 48 signatories to the declaration, which was first endorsed in 2018. Since then, Norway–which hosts the secretariat for the Copenhagen Declaration and the Blue Justice Initiative–has led the charge in supporting international efforts to implement the declaration. Its partnership with the CRFM and its Member States took root at Our Ocean Conference in 2019–when the the Blue Justice Initiative was launched–and since then, the CRFM and Norway have continued to partner to address this global problem.
Map © 2022 CRFM
Mr. Gunnar A. Stølsvik
Mr. Gunnar A. Stølsvik, Specialist Director, Fisheries Department at the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, said that the Copenhagen Declaration is a political statement and not a legally binding instrument. He added that the declaration recognizes the relevance of the entire fisheries value chain: from capture, to handling and processing, through to sale and the financing of operations.
“To build a [sustainable] blue economy, you have to make sure that the shadow blue economy does not occupy too much of a big space in that economy,” he said.
FOCUS ON CARIBBEAN ACTION TO ADDRESS IUU FISHING AND ORGANISED CRIME IN THE FISHING SECTOR
"There is no simple, no single, no short-term solution to IUU fishing… or to the related organized crime and the networks focusing their commitment and efforts in keeping… the status quo,” said Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr, MP - Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, The Government of Jamaica. He added that successful responses will require a holistic and integrated approach where policies are linked to the drivers of IUU fishing.”
Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr, MP
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
Minister Charles proposed that Jamaica could serve as the regional Blue Justice hub for the Caribbean, and that the sub-regional office for the Blue Justice Initiative could be established in that country.
He said that support within the region and beyond is required to assure success, including independent action by States, bilateral action by adjacent states, and multilateral action by all parties involved in the fight.
The Minister outlined some key actions by Jamaica:
Minister Charles noted the devastating toll that IUU fishing has had on Jamaica, as well as the world. He said that the scourge of poaching, especially by foreigners, “has caused Jamaica billions of dollars in lost earnings and has prevented thousands of Jamaicans from accessing gainful employment.” He said that Jamaica has suffered annual losses of $6 million in direct export earnings and 5,500 jobs, which has had a multiplier effect on families. The country had put in place a 2-year moratorium on the Queen Conch fishery due to poaching, primarily foreigners.
According to Minister Charles, it is estimated that catches from IUU fishing constitute more than 30% of reported catches, but for some species, IUU fishing may account for up to 3 times the permitted amount.
"The devastating impact of IUU fishing results in overexploitation and the eventual collapse of important fisheries, thereby exacerbating poverty and threatening the livelihoods of the most vulnerable citizens in our country,” the Minister said.
Hon. Andre Perez - Minister of the Blue Economy & Civil Aviation, Government of Belize, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impacts on our economies and the increasing threats to our resources by climate change and climate variability make the fight against IUU fishing even more urgent and critical.”
Hon. Andre Perez
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
Minister Perez said that it is crucial to adopt new and modern tools in the monitoring and control of the region’s small-scale fishing fleet. He said that Belize–which up to 2022 had declared 11.3% of its marine space as no-take high biodiversity zones–is one of the few countries that are piloting the use of mobile transceivers on the fishing fleet as a means of combating IUU fishing.
He added that the Belize Fisheries Department and co-managers of marine protected areas had adopted the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) to enhance enforcement in national waters.
Other initiatives which the Belize Minister highlighted are:
Minister Perez said that the Copenhagen Declaration of 2018 complements the Castries (St. Lucia) Declaration on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, previously signed by members of the CRFM Ministerial Council back in 2010. He also noted other instruments to which Belize had ascribed, including the 2019-2021 Regional Plan of Action on IUU Fishing (RPOA-IUU) for countries that are members of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC), as well as the 2018 Strategy to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate IUU fishing in the territorial waters of the Central America region, formulated under the auspices of the Organization of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA). With respect to Belize’s recently enacted domestic fisheries legislation, Minister Perez said that in addition to including high fines and penalties intended to serve as a deterrent against IUU fishing, it also has provisions similar to the Lacey Act of the USA which sets out penalties for violations of laws in other states.
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
Our oceans have been a major crime scene… and we must pledge and recommit our efforts to act globally in solidarity, so that we can ensure that we bring an end to IUU fishing in our world,” said Hon. Saboto Caesar - Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry & Labour, Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Hon. Saboto Caesar
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Government of Norway
"I want to send a very clear message to every Member State of the United Nations: for meaningful change to take place, it first begins with a clear expression of the political will to bring about change, and sadly there are still some Member States of the United Nations that have not yet expressed that political will in a way that will benefit the thrust and the effort of others in the fight against IUU fishing,” Minister Caesar stated.
Measures highlighted include:
Minister Caesar stressed the need for resource mobilization to address IUU fishing and transnational organized crime. He said that bilateral and multilateral platforms and in-country budgets must be mobilized to address the matter.
CRFM MOVING AHEAD WITH ITS MANDATE
Dr. Emma Witbooi - Project Manager, Blue Resilience, The United Nations Development Program, reaffirmed their commitment and partnership. She noted that the UNDP has facilitated country-led Blue Action Dialogues which focus on fostering dialogue and cooperation between institutions and agencies that work to tackle fisheries crime.
Dr. Emma Witbooi
“We are delighted to be embarking on the process of working together with various CRFM and CARICOM Member States in initiating these dialogues,” said Dr. Witbooi, reiterating the gratitude of the UNDP for the very fruitful collaboration with the CRFM and CARICOM.
Mr. Joseph Cox, CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, lauded the efforts of the CRFM to synergize with the Government of Norway and other partners, through the Blue Justice Initiative to address the challenges arising from IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the industry. He noted that Article 60 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas–an article dedicated entirely to fisheries management–commits the Member States of the Community to collaborate with each other in the ongoing surveillance of their Exclusive Economic Zone.
Mr. Joseph Cox
To this end, the Caribbean Community has invested in institutions such as the CRFM and CARICOM IMPACS [The Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security] to both improve our collective management of our living marine resources and to bolster regional capacity in security matters,” Mr. Cox said.
“It is clear that a high level of commitment is present. CARICOM leaders have paved the [way] for effective cooperation, sustainable capacity building… in improving the safety of the Caribbean Sea, and the protection and safety of our hardworking fishers and our fisheries industries across Member States,” he added.
GALLERY ON YOUTUBE
#CaribbeanFisheries #IUUFishing #CRFM
© 2022 Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
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/
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, Monday, 25 April 2022 (CRFM)—Fisheries Ministers from countries that comprise the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) met on Friday, 22 April 2022, at their 16th Regular Meeting, to advance the institution’s strategic actions to build resilience and boost sustainable fisheries and aquaculture production, through targeted initiatives aimed at maximizing sustainable blue economic growth and improving access to international markets, while tackling the scourge of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and transnational organized crime in the industry.
Ministers highlight importance of blue economic growth in reversing declines in fish production and exports resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and in accelerating regional economic development
Before handing over the mantle of leadership to Suriname, the outgoing chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council, Hon. Saboto Ceasar, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Transformation, Forestry and Fisheries of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, emphasized that whereas much had been achieved during the previous year, significant work remained to be done. He informed the meeting that at the 37th session of the FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (LARC37) held in Ecuador in March 2022, the CRFM Member States reiterated the request to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), for the deployment of the Norwegian Research Vessel (RV) Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, to conduct an independent marine resource survey of the marine living resources in the waters under the jurisdiction of CARICOM States. During this 16th Meeting of the Ministerial Council, the Ministers reiterated the crucial importance of moving ahead with the research, as it would provide an invaluable evidence base to drive informed blue economic development across the region, and expedite the region’s economic rebound and recovery from the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the fisheries and aquaculture sector, which is already beginning to show positive signs of revitalization with more fishers and vessels returning to sea. The Meeting also discussed other ongoing initiatives to strengthen capacity for evidence-based decision making, including the Iceland-funded CARICE Project and FAO/WECAFC-Fisheries Resources Monitoring System (FIRMS) partnership.
Hon. Parmanand Sewdien, Suriname’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, elected as the new chair of the CRFM Ministerial, presided over the deliberations. The Ministers received updates on several initiatives being implemented by the CRFM Secretariat and Member States in collaboration with regional and international development partners, in the context of the Third CRFM Strategic Plan, spanning 2022 to 2030. These include the US$48 million CAF-FAO-CRFM-GEF supported project on Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus project (BE-CLME+), which the CRFM hopes will commence later in 2022. The Ministers affirmed that this initiative could contribute greatly to the realization of the target set by the CARICOM Heads of Government at their meeting held during March 2022, to reduce the region’s overall food import bill of around US$5-6 billion by 25% by 2025.
Additionally, the Ministers discussed initiatives which the CRFM and its Member States are undertaking to address the Sargassum inundations that have been affecting the region, including efforts to explore opportunities, through a partnership with New Zealand, to safely harvest Sargassum for the development of products that would enhance the region’s economic and climate resilience. This is being pursued under a three-year project, spanning 2021 to 2023, funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and implemented jointly by the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited (PFR) and the CRFM.
The Ministers also dealt with the vital need for strengthening the region’s access to international markets, through enhancing fish and seafood quality and safety, with enhanced sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. The CRFM Secretariat and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), through the 11th European Development Fund SPS Project, continue to work with Member States and the private sector to build their trading capacity, thereby also contributing to the wider goal of slashing the region’s import bill over the next three years. They also considered the progress of the ongoing negotiations at the World Trade Organisation to prohibit the provision of certain fisheries subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (or IUU) fishing and overfishing.
The Ministerial Council gave the greenlight for the CRFM Secretariat to work with development partners to facilitate knowledge and technology transfer for integrated multitrophic aquaculture—which enables cost-effective and environmentally friendly expansion of aquaculture, including mariculture. The Ministers also welcomed positive news on the progress of activities under the Japan-funded COASTFISH project, which builds upon a previous Japan-funded co-management project in the region, which has strengthened the conservation, management and sustainable use of coastal marine resources through greater involvement of fishers and coastal communities.
The United Nations has declared 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA), to celebrate and improve awareness of the significant role of small-scale fishers. In welcoming the IYAFA celebrations, the Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the small-scale fisheries and aquaculture for employment, livelihoods, food security and nutrition, and health and wellbeing of the people of the region and acknowledged the CRFM’s preparation of a series of activities, including a high-level policy dialogue with fishers to mainstream small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the ongoing blue economy dialogue.
Hon. Avinash Singh, represented the Ministry of Agriculture,
Trinidad and Tobago, represented by Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries – Senator the Honourable Avinash Singh, was elected as vice chair at the meeting and is, therefore, next in line to assume the chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council in 2023, when the CRFM will commemorate the 20th anniversary since its launch with a series of activities that the Ministers approved during this 16th Meeting of the Council.
The CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said that this was a very productive meeting. He noted that the Ministers recognized the urgency of addressing the challenges facing the sector and made several decisions that will contribute to a more sustainable, resilient, and productive fisheries and aquaculture sector and ultimately to improved national and regional economic growth, food security and nutrition, livelihoods and well-being of the people of the region.
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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, Friday, 18 March 2022 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) hosted a Technical Meeting on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Organized Crime in the Fishing Industry this week. It marked an important milestone in the region’s efforts to fortify the region’s response to this very challenging and costly problem, through coordinated action at both the national and regional levels, with the support of the Government of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the Blue Justice Initiative.
The CRFM, its Member States, and partner agencies both at the CARICOM and international levels committed to advancing their collaboration using modern digital technology, to strengthen the region’s response to illegal fishing and transnational organized criminal activities, such as drugs, human and small arms trafficking, trade in contraband goods, document fraud and forgery, tax crimes, and money laundering, which use commercial and recreational fishing as a cover for their activities.
Last October, during a high-level meeting of CRFM Ministers, twelve (12) Member States signed the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’). They also endorsed the Blue Justice Initiative, which supports developing countries in operationalizing the Copenhagen Declaration, aimed at “promoting a sustainable and fair Blue Economy for all, that is free from fisheries crime.”
The CRFM and CARICOM IMPACS convened the technical meeting of senior fisheries and maritime law enforcement officers to identify priority actions to strengthen regional and international cooperation to combat and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fisheries sector. The event marked an important milestone for the Caribbean region in collectively combating the scourge of crime connected with the fishing sector.
Over 90 participants from 15 Member States of the CRFM and representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat, the CRFM, CARICOM IMPACS, the Regional Security System (RSS), UNDP and the Government of Norway participated in the virtual session.
The meeting featured a diverse array of speakers who provided participants with insights on the Blue Justice Initiative and ‘Copenhagen Declaration, the UNDP Blue Resilience Project and its use of digital technology and institutional cooperation, tools and techniques to detect and analyze fisheries crime, and a general overview of fisheries crime in the Caribbean. Participants engaged in interactive sessions, as they contributed to charting the way forward.
In addressing the gathering, Hon. Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, and Chair of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, said: “The fight globally has increased against IUU fishing and organized crime, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Member States of the CRFM continue to honor our duty… It is our quest in the Caribbean to partner with all international agencies to ensure that we reduce criminal activities when it comes to the Blue Economy. We intend to work with regional and international partners and other friendly governments such as Norway… because every Member State in the global community must play an important role.”
CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton noted the seriousness and impacts of illegal and criminal activities in the fisheries sector and expressed the CRFM’s appreciation for Norway’s commitment to the sustainable use of ocean resources, through the Blue Justice Initiative and the Copenhagen Declaration. He thanked the Government of Norway and the UNDP for supporting the region in its efforts to help address this intractable problem.
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15 October 2018:
The Copenhagen Declaration was initially adopted by 9 countries: Faroe Islands, Ghana, Indonesia, Kiribati, Namibia, Norway, Palau, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka.
10 December 2020:
Several Ministers responsible for Fisheries from the CARICOM / CRFM Member States took part in a virtual High-Level International Blue Justice Conference that was convened by the Government of Norway. The main purpose of the Conference was to promote and advance political support for the non-binding Copenhagen Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the fishing industry.
21 May 2021:
At the Fifteenth Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM, Ministers discussed the issues and recognized the need for Member States to cooperate with other affected countries to improve understanding and knowledge of the problem, identify countermeasures, and build capacity to prevent, deter and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fishing industry, in the region and globally. The Ministers issued Resolution No. MC 15(6) of 2021, documenting their position.
4 October 2021:
During a special ministerial meeting, several Ministers from the Caribbean Community responsible for Fisheries, the Blue Economy and related matters, delivered official statements endorsing The International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’). They also affirmed their support for the Blue Justice Initiative, established by the Government of Norway to support implementation of the declaration. (View the proceedings and country statementshere.)
Twelve (12) CRFM Member States, The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and The Turks and Caicos Islands, signed the Copenhagen Declaration on this occasion.
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.
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, 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.
Ministerial delegations from Caribbean and Central American countries to discuss strategic actions for the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector
Belize City, Monday, 30 September 2019 (CRFM)—Ministerial Fisheries delegations from countries across the Caribbean and Central America will converge in Belize this week for high-level talks aimed at solidifying partnerships at the political level, as well as setting out priority areas for attention and mutual cooperation.
On Tuesday, 1 October 2019, the CRFM will convene the Ninth Special Meeting of its Ministerial Council, the chief decision-making arm of the inter-governmental CARICOM agency. A priority item on the agenda of the CRFM meeting is a regional plan of action to combat Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The Caribbean Ministers will also discuss international issues important to Member States, such as the World Trade Organization negotiations on Fisheries Subsidies.
Following the CRFM Ministerial Meeting, on Wednesday, 2 October 2019, the CARICOM delegations will dialogue with their counterparts from Central America during their second joint high-level meeting. The first ministerial meeting of CRFM and the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA) was hosted on 3-4 September 2012 in Belize, a member of both sub-regional organizations.
On the agenda of the upcoming CRFM- OSPESCA meeting are pressing issues that confront both sub-regions. High on the agenda are IUU fishing; climate change and disaster risk management; blue economic growth; and the sustainable use, management and conservation of key species such as queen conch, lobster, pelagic species, sharks and reef fishes.
The Fisheries sector is one of the important employers across our region (Photo: CRFM)
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said: “The aim of our meeting is to strengthen regional cooperation and integration initiatives to improve implementation of our respective fisheries policies and address the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; in particular, Sustainable Development Goal 14 on Oceans and Seas. We are enhancing our partnership to make progress on some of the big issues regarding sustainable development and conservation of fisheries and aquaculture in the region and in our national economies by enhancing food and nutrition security, providing jobs and livelihoods, and improving trade and resilience of fishing communities to climate change and related hazards.”
The parties – CRFM and OSPESCA – intend to update their 2012 Joint Plan of Action, setting out the specific priority areas of cooperation over the next five years. It is also expected that a Ministerial Declaration addressing areas of common interest and charting the way forward for collaborative action will be concluded and signed by participating Ministers.