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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The Ministerial Council
1. Each Member of the Mechanism shall nominate a Minister of Fisheries to represent it on the Ministerial Council and such representative shall have one vote.
2. The Ministerial Council shall meet in regular session once a year and in such special sessions as may be necessary to perform its functions.
3. The Ministerial Council shall determine the policy of the Mechanism. In particular, the Ministerial Council shall:
(a) promote the efficient management, conservation and development of shared, straddling and highly migratory marine and other aquatic resources of the Caribbean Region through attainment of competence over the resources and through co-operation with competent organisations as the case may be;
(b) develop and maintain relations with national, sub-regional and regional institutions and bodies and international institutions and organisations the work of which have an impact on the fisheries within the Region;
(c) promote and facilitate human resource training and development in the fisheries sub-sector at the professional, technical and vocational levels in Member States;
(d) promote and support programmes designed to establish, facilitate and strengthen fisheries research, including the acquisition and sharing of relevant data in Member States;
(e) promote and encourage technical co-operation in the fisheries sub-sector, including technology transfer, information exchange and networking among States of the Caribbean Region and beyond;
(f) encourage co-operation among the Member States in order to avoid disputes or to resolve them in a peaceful manner;
(g) support efforts aimed at ensuring safe, healthy and fair working and living conditions for fishers and fish workers;
(h) consider the annual reports and make decisions in response to recommendations and requests from the Forum;
(i) approve the Budget, Annual Audited Accounts and Procurement Procedures of the Mechanism and Strategic Plan and Work Programme of the Technical Unit;
(j) appoint the Director and Deputy Director of the Technical Unit;
(k) receive and consider policy proposals from the Forum;
(l) approve co-operative arrangements proposed by the Forum;
(m) approve recommendations for States or Territories to be admitted as Associate Members;
(n) approve recommendations for groups, institutions and bodies whose work contribute to the work of the Mechanism to be admitted to the Forum, as Observers;
(o) review the work of the Technical Unit;
(p) submit annual reports to the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) and the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR).
4. Subject to the provisions of this Article and Article 18, the Ministerial Council shall determine its own rules of procedure.