BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Friday, 13 April 2018 (CRFM)—Once a year, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), an inter-governmental organization established to promote and facilitate the responsible use of the region's fisheries resources, convenes a meeting of heads of national fisheries authorities from its 17 Member States. This year, that group of the Caribbean technical experts who make up the Caribbean Fisheries Forum will meet for two days in Montserrat.
The CRFM will convene the 16th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum on Monday, 16 April and Tuesday, 17 April 2018 at the Montserrat Cultural Centre in Little Bay, Montserrat. International and regional partner organizations, observers and stakeholders from the fisheries and aquaculture sector have also been invited to the event, organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, Lands Housing and the Environment (MATHLE) in Montserrat.
Speakers at the opening ceremony will include Hon. David Osborne, Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment, and Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM. Ms. Avery Galbraith-Smikle (see photo), Director of the Aquaculture Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Jamaica, will also address the gathering.
Jamaica, which hosted last year’s meeting of the Fisheries Forum, will hand over the chairmanship of the Forum at the upcoming meeting. A vice chair and members of the CRFM’s Executive Committee will also be picked for the new programme year, which began at the start of this month.
Participants will receive an update on the progress of programmes, projects and activities being undertaken by the CRFM and prepare recommendations to be presented to the CRFM’s Ministerial Council when it meets on 18 May 2018 in Montserrat.
Among the areas listed for discussion by the Forum are management plans for key fisheries, co-management of fisheries involving stakeholders and government officials, cooperation with regional and international partners to improve management and sustainable use of marine resources; adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management in fisheries, and measures to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, among others.
The CRFM is overseeing the development of the regional protocol to integrate climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in fisheries and aquaculture into the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy. On Wednesday, 18 April, the CRFM will also convene a regional workshop to review the Draft Protocol, which it aims to have ready before the hurricane season starts on June 1.
The CRFM is developing a Model Disaster Preparedness and Risk Management Plan for the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector for CRFM Member States. This has emerged out of a necessity to have a framework that would advise regional partners on the measures to be taken in order to be better prepared, prevent and minimize loss, damage, destruction and death arising from hazards such as severe hydrometeorological events, tsunamis and oil spills. The Model Plan will enhance the Caribbean’s ability to manage all disasters at a regional and national level, with special emphasis on the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Wednesday, 24 January 2018 (CRFM)—Seven Caribbean countries are participating in a recently launched series of subprojects which the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) is leading under a sustainable management initiative for the flyingfish fishery.
In highlighting the importance of the initiative, CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said: “We in the region are utilizing a common space and common living marine resource; therefore, we need to cooperatively manage these common interests. One of these common interests is the flyingfish fishery, and the governance framework developed for the flyingfish fishery could be scaled up and applied to other fisheries in the region.”
The CRFM, the agency which provides fisheries-related advice and recommendations at the CARICOM level, initiated 6 sub-projects during 2017 to implement the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) for the management of the four-wing flyingfish in the Eastern Caribbean. This species of economic and cultural significance to our region is harvested by over 1,700 boats across the Eastern Caribbean countries and in Martinique.
The sub-projects are being implemented in the focal countries of Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Dominica, and Trinidad and Tobago, plus the French Overseas Territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe.
The sub-projects, intended to support the long-term sustainability of the flyingfish, are part of the project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) titled, Catalyzing Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of Shared Living Marine Resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (the CLME+ Project). The project aims to strengthen governance of the living marine resources by addressing habitat degradation, pollution, unsustainable fishing, inter-sectoral coordination, and management regimes for various fishery types, such as reef, continental shelf and pelagic fisheries.
The CRFM contracted Blue Earth Consultants, a division of the Eastern Research Group, to lead three of the six flyingfish sub-projects in collaboration with a team of local and international partners. The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) in Trinidad and Tobago and Nexus Coastal Resource Management (Nexus) in Halifax, Canada, are leading the remaining three sub-projects.
Blue Earth Consultants will work with stakeholders and officials in the focal countries at both technical and political levels until the subprojects conclude in mid-2019. The team is taking a participatory approach to gaining feedback and it will lead a consultative process to updating the Eastern Caribbean Flyingfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The FMP provides context and guidance for the management of the Eastern Caribbean region’s flyingfish fishery, developed through a process of extensive research, regional cooperation, collaboration, and stakeholder consultation. Endorsed for regional implementation in 2014, the plan was the first of its kind to have been sanctioned by the Ministerial Council of the CRFM, consistent with the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy.
Under this initiative, a sub-regional data policy will be developed to provide guidelines on how countries and Overseas Territories participating in the flyingfish fishery will collect and share data. The current status of flyingfish fishery data collection will be investigated and legal and drafting support will be provided by the consultants to develop template regulations for countries to implement. New recommendations will also be developed on vessel licensing arrangements and a census will be conducted on existing fishing vessels used to target the flyingfish.
The initiative will support improved cooperation between the 17 CRFM Member States and France on the management and conservation of shared living marine resources. Regional cooperation is vital to the sub-projects, given that flyingfish are a migratory species fished by six CRFM countries and the French Territories. Therefore, the project is developing a cooperation agreement for the CRFM States and France, based on stakeholder and expert inputs.
Throughout the course of the three sub-projects to be led by Blue Earth, information products will be developed and shared with stakeholders and the public to increase understanding of the flyingfish fishery and the sub-project outcomes.
The CLME+ Project was catalyzed by a US$12.5 million grant from the GEF, matched by government, multi-lateral and other funding for a total of more than US$146 million.
The CLME+ Project was catalyzed by a US$12.5 million grant from the GEF, matched by government, multi-lateral and other funding for a total of more than US$146 million.
Belize City, Thursday, 18 May 2017 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will host the 11th Meeting of its Ministerial Council—the highest ranking decision-making body of the regional fisheries organization—starting at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, May 19, at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana.
Ministers who hold the portfolio for fisheries from the 17 Member States of the CRFM, or their appointed delegates, are slated to attend the event, at which Guyana is expected to be elected as the new chair of the Council.
Fisheries ministers from across the Caribbean will review ongoing programmes and the status of and trends in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. They will also discuss further actions needed to tackle the pressing challenges facing the sector.
“The 11th Meeting of the Council is taking place against the backdrop of the High Level UN Oceans Forum that will take place in New York from 5-9 June 2017, to review progress on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development,” noted CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton.
Haughton said that, “The living marine resources provide employment, income, food and livelihoods, and they are an important component of the tourism product in the region. For these reasons, CRFM Member States have accorded high priority to ensuring proper management and sustainable use of these resources, to provide tangible sustainable benefits to the people of the region.”
The Council also aims to improve the trade and economic performance of the sector while addressing climate change and associated threats.
The Ministerial Council will receive and consider the report and recommendations of the 15th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the CRFM’s technical advisory body, which was held in Jamaica in March 2017 in preparation for this meeting of the Council.
With the 2017 hurricane season approaching in just a few weeks, the ministers will discuss the Caribbean Risk Insurance Facility for Fishers. The Caribbean Fisheries Forum has endorsed and now recommend for approval by the Ministerial Council, the approach of linking the insurance policy with the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy and the development of Disaster Risk Management Plans for the fisheries sector. They hope that this will incentivize the adoption of best practices for resource management and disaster planning. Countries would pay lower premiums and receive higher payouts after a disaster event if they have disaster risk management plans for the fisheries sector, have established mechanisms to facilitate cooperation among fishers, and are implementing the Common Fisheries Policy.
At the 6th Special Meeting of the Ministerial Council held in October 2016 in Cayman, Fisheries ministers welcomed the progress on the developments of the insurance facilities for the fisheries sector and urged the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility Segregated Portfolio Company (CCRIF-SPC) to expedite the preparation of the policies and other necessary arrangements, and to launch the policies without delay. Urgent action is needed since threats from climate change and natural disasters, such as hurricanes, pose an ever-present threat to fishers and fish farmers, as well as to food security in the region.
The Ministers will continue to review ways in which the countries can continue to collaborate on developing and implementing comprehensive legislation, protocols and guidelines to ensure fish and seafood safety and security, to expand regional trade and the Caribbean’s access to export markets, as well as to provide the necessary resources and investment to ensure adoption within the context of national governance frameworks.
The Ministers will be asked to approve proposed follow-up interventions to strengthen the linkages between fisheries and tourism and to maximize potential benefits for local fishers and fishing communities, as well as to reduce the growing dependence on imported fish and fisheries products.
CRFM Member States are being urged to address the constraints to sourcing locally produced fish and seafood for the tourism sector, such as inadequate quality assurance, unreliability of supply, inadequate volume, product form and transportation, and lack of communication and information flow between fishers and tourist establishments.
They are also being asked to document the extent to which part-time fishermen are involved in the tourism sector (as tour guides, snorkelers, etc.) and to consider, in the context of promoting alternative or associated livelihoods for fishers focused on the tourism sector, the possibility of fishermen being given first preference to livelihood opportunities in marine protected areas (MPAs).
The Ministers will also consider the preliminary findings and recommendations of a recently concluded study to review the impact of cost factors such as capital, labour, maintenance and energy costs on fisheries operations, in order to identify policy options and strategies to improve efficiency, profitability, sustainability and economic resilience of the sector.
Belize City, Wednesday, 29 March 2017 (CRFM)—Heads of national fisheries authorities from 17 Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will be meeting with observers and partner agencies in Jamaica near the end of this week, for the 15th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the primary technical deliberative body of the CRFM, for talks on the status of and recent trends in the fisheries and aquaculture in the region and plans for the future to strengthen the sector.
Ahead of the opening the hurricane season in June, the Forum meeting—slated for Thursday, 30 March, and Friday, 31 March, at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston, Jamaica—will also address measures for adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management in fisheries.
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said: “Climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification and disaster risk management are major challenges facing the fisheries sector and the wider economies of our countries. These issues continue to be high priorities for policy-makers and stakeholders because we need to improve capacity, information base and policy, and institutional arrangements to respond to these threats and protect our future. At this meeting, we will be discussing the USA sponsored initiative to provide risk insurance for fishers, among other initiatives to improve and protect the fisheries sector and ensure food security.”
The Forum will also discuss steps to strengthen cooperation and coordination between fisheries and environment departments, as well as partner organizations, in order to strengthen the conservation of marine species and critical habitats to achieve international biodiversity targets.
Haughton notes that, “Working together to improve the health of the marine environment and protection of vulnerable marine species while improving sanitary and phyto-sanitary systems and quality of fish and seafood, will produce tangible social and economic benefits for fishers and fishing communities. It is time for stakeholders in the fisheries and environment sectors to start working in a more cooperative and constructive manner to address common challenges.”
The Forum will be updated on the progress of technical activities being undertaken by the CRFM, its Secretariat, Member States and network partners, after which it will prepare recommendations on the way forward to be tabled when Ministers responsible for fisheries meet on 19 May in Guyana.
Outgoing chairman, Denzil Roberts, Chief Fisheries Officer of Guyana, will demit office after his 12-month tenure. Participants in the upcoming Fisheries Forum will elect a new chair, vice-chair and executive committee members, who will serve for the programme year, 2017-2018.
Belize City, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Government of Norway have launched a two-week mission to explore the development of a regional technical assistance project to be funded by Norway. The project would support the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector by strengthening evidence-based management.
Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; and Dr. Johán Williams, Specialist Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, began meeting on Monday, January 16, with CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton at the CRFM Secretariat in Belize City, after which the team embarked in a two-week dialogue with 7 CRFM Members States, beginning with senior government officials in Belize.
This regional fact-finding mission is being undertaken within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Cooperation between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Governments of the Nordic Countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, signed by the parties on 20 September 2016 in New York, USA. That MoU identified fisheries as one of the priority areas of cooperation, along with environment, climate change, renewable energy, gender equality, tourism, education, child protection and welfare, and information technology.
"Norway is a powerhouse in fisheries, globally,” Haughton said. “They have excellent systems for research, data collection, resource management, and making decisions based on science; and we need to move more in that direction—strengthening our systems to be able to make better decisions regarding fisheries conservation and management, as well as fisheries development on the basis of good scientific data and information.”
Haughton added that: “We are interested in drawing on the Norwegian knowledge, expertise and technology in various aspects of fisheries and aquaculture, in building our own capacities in CARICOM in fisheries research, statistics, resource management, aquaculture (particularly mariculture), fish processing, value addition, marketing and international trade.”
Principally, the engagement between Norway and the CRFM Member States will focus of building human resource capacity, institutional capacity, and the accuracy and volume of fisheries data and information, with an emphasis on pursuing the ecosystems approach to fisheries development and management.
While in Belize, Høines and Williams had a chance to dialogue with H.E. Daniel Guiterrez, Belize’s Ambassador to CARICOM; Hon. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Climate Change, as well as Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade.
After leaving Belize on Tuesday, the team, joined by CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton, travels to Haiti for similar dialogue, as they consult with stakeholders in the field to better define their interests. Next, the team will travel to Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and The Bahamas. While in Guyana, they will meet both with fisheries officials there and officials of the CARICOM Secretariat. The technical mission concludes near the end of January.
Haughton noted that for more than 60 years, Norway has been supporting fisheries research surveys in developing countries using the marine research vessel, Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, outfitted with high-level modern technology in marine resource survey. Those vessels have been dispatched in Africa and other parts of the developing world. It is the CRFM’s hope that during the latter half of the proposed project, for the period 2019-2020, the research vessel would be deployed in the Caribbean to conduct surveys to broaden the region’s understanding of the state of its fisheries resources and marine environment. The CRFM also intends to collaborate in this endeavor with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/ Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission, which is already committed to assisting the region in buildings its fisheries knowledge base.
Belize City, Friday, 13 January 2017 (CRFM)—Through the long-standing partnership between the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the United Nations University Fisheries Technical Programme (UNU-FTP) in Iceland, the University has deployed one of Iceland’s top fisheries data experts to the CRFM Secretariat for a short site-based assignment, to provide operational support and guidance at the country level for improving the management and usage of fisheries data systems.
The visiting expert is Dr. Einar Hjörleifsson, who has been working at the Marine Research Institute, Iceland, since 1996. Dr. Hjörleifsson’s primary role has been data analysis and stock assessment. Over the same time, he has been working at the UNU-FTP in a role as a teacher and student supervisor. During his visit to the Caribbean, Dr. Hjörleifsson will be working under the guidance of CRFM’s Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Susan Singh-Renton.
Dr. Singh-Renton emphasized that, “Dr. Hjörleifsson’s present assignment with the CRFM is intended to allow him to give special ‘on-the-ground’ attention to all aspects of the fisheries data systems in two CRFM countries that have made reasonable investments both for the present and the future of their data systems. Hence, the assignment is expected to build further on such investments.”
CRFM’s Statistics and Information Analyst, June Masters, who will also be working closely with Dr. Hjörleifsson, expects that, “The countries involved will get the opportunity to critically examine their respective fisheries data collection system and make improvements where possible.”
Fortunately, Dr. Hjörleifsson has worked with the CRFM on previous occasions on behalf of the UNU-FTP, to deliver training in statistics and stock assessment to CRFM fisheries professionals, and so he is no stranger to the data challenges in the CRFM countries.
As he began his assignment this week with gathering information on the status of data systems and their usage in the CRFM region, and holding discussions with key informants both at the national and regional levels, Dr. Hjörleifsson indicated that his first aim would be to “enhance skills and increase efficiency in fisheries data analysis and report writing.”
While efforts to improve data management have been sustained over the years through various regional initiatives and also since the founding of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) in 2002, data management remains a significant stumbling block for advancing fisheries management goals within the region and globally. Hence, CRFM very much welcomes the present visit by Dr. Hjörleifsson, which will help CRFM States to take a fresh look at an old problem!
The Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations (CNFO), which comprises National Fisherfolk Organizations (NFOs) from CARICOM member states, held its first General Assembly at Blue Horizon Hotel in Barbados on 20 October 2016.
Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), was selected to chair the General Assembly.
“Looking forward; fisheries development and management have in the past been the main purview of the national Fisheries Departments, but we know that fishers and others involved in the sector including vendors now need to be playing a more prominent role in these matters. Much is now dependent on voluntary cooperation of fishers to implement the policy decisions made and move the fisheries sector forward. Fishers provide food for the people of the region. There is a lot of talk these days about improving food and nutrition security. Furthermore, the employment opportunity provided by the sector is important,” Haughton told CNFO board members, staff and observers who attended the meeting.
Mitchel Lay, a fisherman of Antigua and Barbuda, is the Coordinator of the CNFO Unit.
“I have appreciation for you having confidence in me over the years. We have been able to make some small advancements. As we look at the CNFO’s development, let’s look back, but we have much more responsibilities moving forward,” Lay said.
He noted that the CNFO gets support from the CRFM, and the CNFO registered office is housed at the CRFM Secretariat in Belize.
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton with
Ms. Vernel Nicholls of Barbados, CNFO Chairperson
The General Assembly was held during the workshop titled, “Strengthening Caribbean Fisherfolk to participate in Governance: Fourth Regional Caribbean Fisherfolk Action Learning Group (FFALG),” held from 19-21 October 2016 with funding provided by a European Union funded project being implemented by CANARI, a regional NGO.
The CNFO’s purpose is to improve the quality of life for fisherfolk and to develop a sustainable and profitable industry through networking, representation and capacity building.
In 2003/04, a regional study done by the CRFM with funding provided by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) examined the organizational needs and operational strengths and weaknesses of existing national and primary or community-based Caribbean fisherfolk organizations. It also made recommendations to address them, and eventually led to the establishment of the CNFO as an informal network of fisherfolk organisations of 5 CARICOM countries.
The CNFO, which was formally registered in Belize this year, has expanded from 5 members to 13 active members today, with organisations participating from virtually all member states of CARICOM. At the recent General Assembly, members adopted the CNFO’s Articles of Association and Memorandum of Association, established the Board of Directors, and elected the 7 person Executive. Ms. Vernel Nicholls, President of the Barbados National Union of Fisherfolk Organisation (BARNUFO) was elected as the first Chair of the Board. The Board and Executive will provide direction and supervision of the work of the CRFM.
"Many CRFM states continue to harvest and sell fish as just fish, shrimp as just shrimp. The scales, bones, guts and shells are usually thrown away. But when we do so, are we throwing away other potential profits? And it‟s not just the fishing sector that should ask this important question."
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