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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.

 

Published in Press release

 

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!

Published in Press release

 

Belize City, Belize, Monday, 9 January 2017 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) is hosting a working group meeting at the Ramada Belize City Princess Hotel from 9 – 10 January 2017, to advance the implementation of a risk insurance facility for fishers in the region.

 

When Fisheries ministers from CRFM Member States met in Cayman in October 2016, they reviewed the progress made towards the activation of the Caribbean Ocean Assets Sustainability FaciliTy (COAST). This week’s working group meeting, which the CRFM is facilitating in collaboration with the US Department of State, will aid in the selection of a representative sample of Caribbean countries in which the initiative will be piloted.

 

The purpose of this week’s meeting is to chart the steps necessary to qualify a pilot country (or pilot countries) to purchase the COAST insurance product from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility Segregated Portfolio Company (CCRIF SPC) before the start of the hurricane season on June 1, 2017.

 

The CRFM notes that, “The COAST insurance scheme will offer an opportunity for countries to buy insurance to help protect their fisheries sector, and hence their food security, from severe weather while promoting resilience to a changing climate and encouraging the conservation of marine environments.”

 

According to Julia Duncan, who serves in theSecretary of State's Office of Global Food Security, COAST will provide 180,000 fisherfolk and associated industries in the Caribbean access to insurance for losses from severe weather. Duncan said that Jamaica has already expressed interest in COAST, which is also supported in principle by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ministerial group, and the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO), in addition to the CRFM.

 

The COAST initiative is being implemented within the context of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP), which provides a useful framework for considering the requirements for country-led, climate-smart food security strategies in the fisheries sector.

 

The CRFM is the lead implantation agency for Caribbean states. The regional fisheries body is uniquely positioned to lead efforts to verify country-led plans and support the implementation of best practices for climate-smart food security in the fisheries sector. International organizations such as the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and The Nature Conservancy are lending their technical support. All collaborating agencies were invited to attend the working group meeting.

 

Joining CRFM Secretariat staff members, US State Department personnel and officials of the US Embassy in Belize at the COAST meeting in Belize, are representatives of the World Bank, which has supported CCRIF SPC, a Cayman-based agency serving 17 Caribbean nations and Nicaragua, in the creation of the COAST insurance product.

 

According to the CRFM, the World Bank also ensures that the project meets the development objectives outlined by the financial donors – the US Department of State – including incentivizing risk reduction and coordinating disaster management.

Published in Press release

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 16 December 2016 (CRFM)— There is still a long way to go but experts meeting here Thursday expressed optimism that slow but steady progress was being made toward introducing region-wide laws, rules and regulations intended to make Caribbean fish and seafood not only ready for world trade but safe for Caribbean tables.

The experts, drawn from fisheries, legal affairs, food health and safety and standards agencies across ten countries in the Caribbean Forum of ACP States (CARIFORUM), ended two days of deliberations on model legislation, protocols and guidelines for health and food safety related to fisheries and aquaculture.

“Still a long way to go but making progress,” said Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Milton Haughton at the workshop at the Accra Beach Hotel.

Milton Haughton-sps2-141216

Haughton said that following the workshop the draft model legislation is to be reviewed, and followed by another round of consultations held with stakeholders and a legal team before it can be finalised and submitted to regional policy-makers for consideration.

While not offering a timeline for the implementation of the legislation he stressed that improved standards and systems for sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) in fisheries are critical to the region socially and economically.

"We will reap good economic benefits when we have stronger systems that will assure, just not the safety but the quality of the products that we want to export. We will be able to access markets, international markets that we are not now able to access ," Haughton said.

The CRFM said the region’s export trade in fish and seafood trade earns about 315 million US dollars annually – a business that could boom or bust depending on how the region meets the global challenge of SPS standards.

British legal expert Chris Hedley, the project’s lead consultant, said the greatest challenge in drafting the legislation was making it nimble enough to adapt to rules and regulations which are frequently changing in the European Union.

Chris Hedley 12142016

Hedley cautioned that the United Kingdom following Brexit may soon be introducing its own standards as well.

"It is about trying to identify what things change all the time and try to make sure there is a flexible methodology as it were for updating those and making sure we make it as user friendly as possible for the government trying to implement these rules," Hedley said.

After final consultation and approval by the Belize-based CRFM, the region’s fisheries agency, the model laws and policies will then be recommended to CARICOM’s Council for Trade Economic Development (COTED), the regional bloc’s forum of trade ministers, as well as other CARICOM bodies.

The model fisheries and aquaculture SPS legislation would have to be enacted in each exporting nation. During the 18-month-old project, the model legislation has been developed in consultation with policymakers, fisherfolk, processors and other industry players.

Experts said the countdown is on towards the end of voluntary compliance with EU food safety standards, considered among the toughest in the world. Failure to meet EU standards would block CARIFORUM countries from tapping into niche markets overseas and boosting foreign exchange earnings, they stressed.

Investigations by the consultants on the project have exposed large gaps in legally binding protocols managing food safety throughout the region.

The experts found barriers to trade of fish and fisheries products due to inadequate SPS standards; minimal legislative standards for aquaculture; concern about food security and decreasing use of local, fresh seafood – the solution for which improved SPS support is an essential component, the CRFM said.

The two-day meeting was the high point of a European Union-funded project to help CARIFORUM countries introduce laws, regulations and a governance system to guarantee safe seafood for export to EU markets and beyond.

The project, which is being carried out by the Belize-based CRFM and supported by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), aims to ramp up food safety standards to enable CARIFORUM fish exporters to take up trading opportunities under the EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The project is financed under the EU’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project.

 

Published in Press release

 

Food safety hazards, best practices in fish inspection, controls in aquaculture, traceability and modern approaches to laboratory testing and accreditation were the key areas covered

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Friday, 16 December 2016 (CRFM)—A two-week training covering “Food safety in the fishery sector” and “Fishery products laboratory testing” was delivered to 30 inspector and laboratory analysts from 15 CARIFORUM countries during the period 28 November to 9 December 2016, by four international experts.

The training, which covered inspection, control and testing in the fishery sector, was based on eight operational manuals developed under a project funded by the European Union (EU). The training was organized by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).

Food safety hazards, best international practices in fish inspection at each stage of the supply chain, controls in aquaculture, and traceability as well as modern approaches to laboratory testing and accreditation were among the key areas addressed. Particular attention was paid to explaining the sanitary requirements for exporting fishery and aquaculture products to the EU and markets in other developed countries. Practical work helped the participants to understand the role of rapid and field testing, to enable better decision-making on the safety of fishery products.

IMG 4740

After the course, rapid testing equipment was donated to participants to use in their home countries, and modern histamine testing equipment for assessing the safety of products such as tunas, was also donated to the Fisheries Department of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

Participants were drawn from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. Representatives from the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), based in Paramaribo, Suriname, also attended. The training was highly appreciated by all the participants.

IMG 4816

“This course will allow the streamlining of our laboratory testing capabilities and has provided a better understanding of what the EU wants,” said Avis O'Reilly-Richardson, Senior Chemist from the Food Safety & Technology Laboratory, Bahamas.

“There are many areas in my country where there are no controls; e.g. imports, fishing vessels, etc. The information received as well as the discussions with other participants will help me to develop systems for these controls in the future,” another participant said.

Dr. Susan Singh-Renton, CRFM’s Deputy Executive Director and CRFM's Project Coordinator, welcomed the course saying that it “…allowed the trainees to develop a stronger understanding of the full extent of laboratory and regulatory requirements for fulfilling international sanitary standards for fish and fishery products, and allowed them also to share lessons and best practices in considering possible solutions for many of the challenges faced in putting the methods into actual practice in their home countries.”

The project under whose umbrella the training falls is titled, “Capacity Building of regulatory and industry stakeholders in Aquaculture and Fisheries Health and Food Safety to meet the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) requirements of international trade.” It was funded under the EU’s “10th EDF Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project and delivered under the technical leadership of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, supported by a team of consultants from Megapesca in Portugal. The aim is to continue to help CARIFORUM countries to improve the safety of fish and fishery products for consumers in national and export markets.

Apart from the delivery of these training courses, the capacity building activity, which started in September 2016 and will run until January 2017, has prepared six new manuals to help fish inspectors apply the best international practices to the inspection of fishing vessels, processing establishments and aquaculture facilities. The subjects covered include Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), traceability, and for the first time, a compendium of food safety hazards encountered in Caribbean fishery products. In addition, two manuals were prepared under the project for laboratories on the testing of fishery products to ensure food safety and the accuracy of laboratory test results.

IMG 4933

The fishery sector is important for many countries in the region, as a source of employment and export revenues. Overall, in 2015, the CARIFORUM countries exported fishery products worth US$378 million to many countries around the world. Whilst 89% of this was from just five countries (Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago), the fishery sector of many other countries in the region delivers supplies directly to their tourist sector. The continued economic importance of the fishery revenue, therefore, depends on ensuring that products meet international sanitary standards. Governments in the region are, therefore, very interested in ensuring that regionally important food safety hazards, such a ciguatera and histamine, are under control.

The EU project “10th EDF Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project” has the expected result that capacities will be strengthened at the national and regional levels for health and food safety requirements of fisheries and aquaculture (inland, marine) products, which will also ensure safe food standards for fisheries products in the region, while meeting the requirements of the region's trading partners worldwide.

 

Published in Press release

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 13 December 2016 (CRFM)—The fisheries industry on Wednesday moves one step closer to making the Caribbean fish and seafood trade safer and more profitable when experts meet in Barbados to finalise a raft of model regional laws, policies and procedures.

 

The Caribbean region’s ability to cash in on a potentially lucrative, international export trade in fish and seafood – already worth 315 million US dollars a year – is being held back by gaps in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) said.

 

But the experts, who are wrapping up an 18-month-long project to investigate fish handling policies and design a new seafood safety regime for the region’s fish and fishery products, are set to introduce a new regime for SPS measures in CARIFORUM states.

 

“The continued viability and further development of the fishing industry of the CRFM region face several challenges, some of which are related to inadequate development of SPS systems to suit the specific needs of fisheries and aquaculture operations,” said CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton ahead of the two-day meeting.

 

Haughton said the experts are meeting to bring forward work begun a year ago on preparing model legislation.

 

The meeting will unveil model fisheries and aquaculture SPS legislation that is to be presented to CARICOM with the intention of being enacted in each exporting nation. The model legislation has been developed in consultation and communication with policymakers, fisherfolk, processors and other industry players.

 

Compliance with globally established SPS standards is voluntary – a worrisome development that experts say is stopping member states from tapping into niche markets overseas and boosting foreign exchange earnings.

 

Investigations by international consultants on the project exposed large gaps in legally binding protocols managing food safety throughout the region.

 

The experts found barriers to trade of fish and fisheries products due to inadequate SPS standards; minimal legislative standards for aquaculture; concern about food security and decreasing use of local, fresh seafood – the solution for which improved SPS support is an essential component, the CRFM said.

 

With the impact of global environmental changes including climate change on the Caribbean, the regional fisheries agency said there is need for improved management and monitoring of the natural environment that sustains fisheries and aquaculture production.

 

The meeting is to be streamed live daily for regional media, industry figures, officials and anyone interested in fisheries and the safety and health of fish and seafood in the region, the CRFM said. The proceedings may be followed on the CRFM’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/TheCRFM.

 

Government officials from each CRFM member state are to review and endorse the final documents to allow final approval. These will then be recommended to CARICOM’s Council for Trade Economic Development (COTED), the regional bloc’s forum of trade ministers, as well as other CARICOM bodies.

 

The two-day meeting is the high point of a European Union-funded project to help CARIFORUM countries introduce laws, regulations and a governance system to guarantee safe seafood for export to EU markets and beyond.

 

The project, which is being carried out by the Belize-based CRFM and supported by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), aims to ramp up food safety standards to enable CARIFORUM fish exporters to take up trading opportunities under the EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The project is financed under the EU’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project.

 

Published in Press release
Tuesday, 06 December 2016 11:27

2015-2016 Annual Report

Read the full online report below or download from the link at the end of this post.

Belize City, Belize, Monday, 21 November 2016 (CRFM)—The coming of the digital age presents novel opportunities for the fisheries and aquaculture sector of the wider Caribbean to build a more robust data and information system that would augment the monitoring of production trends and traceability of catches, support more sustainable management regimes through increased people engagement, and facilitate stronger international and regional trade.

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are teaming up to capitalize on opportunities for Member States to strengthen data collection and management systems through the use of modern technology, such as smartphones and wireless communications to bridge gaps in the system.

“Strengthening our fisheries data and information management systems is extremely important going forward. It is necessary in order to improve resource conservation and management and also improve the socio-economic benefits from the fisheries. It will help in improving income and revenue from the fisheries and strengthen the countries’ capacity to participate in international trade,” said CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton.

Haughton said that “…our decisions really need to be based on good knowledge of the resource systems—both in terms of the state of the targeted fish stocks and the marine environment, as well as the activities on land after the fish is taken; that is, activities in the processing and marketing sectors. We really need to have accurate data and information to understand what is happening and to make informed decisions about what is happening in the sector.” Unless traceability is established through enhanced data and information systems, it will become increasingly hard for countries in our region to trade internationally, he said.

Haughton highlighted these challenges in his recent discussions with Marc Taconet, Chief of the Statistics and Information Branch of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Economics Division at the FAO in Rome.

Taconet was on a working visit at the headquarters of the CRFM in Belize City, Belize, last week. He and Haughton talked about strengthening CRFM-FAO cooperation, and they collaborated on a concept note for cooperation in improving data and information systems across CRFM Member States for fisheries and aquaculture. A planning meeting is tentatively slated for February/March 2017.

“There are innovative technologies such as the use of mobile phones, tablets, and remote inputs; and the co-involvement of fish workers is necessary to be set up. This is one of the needs that were strongly expressed,” said Taconet, in speaking of wider discussions with fisheries experts from the Caribbean.

He said that one gap is the lack of an integrated software system—an issue that was raised when he paid a courtesy call on counterparts of the Belize Fisheries Department, located on the same premises as the CRFM.

According to Taconet, the timeline to reach ‘cruise speed,’ with an upgraded data and information system is two to three years.

The CRFM and the FAO are currently sourcing funds to undertake this new joint initiative, which furthers a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed this January between the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)/Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (FAO-WECAFC), the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, and the Organisation of the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector (OSPESCA), in Cartagena, Colombia, to facilitate, support and strengthen the coordination of actions to increase the sustainability of fisheries.

Published in Press release
Friday, 04 November 2016 00:15

CNFO's 1st General Assembly

 

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.

 

 

Chairlady and Mr. Haughton

 

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.

 

Published in CRFM News

 

Grand Cayman, Thursday, 27 October 2016 (CRFM)—The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the top policy and decision-making arm of the CARICOM agency, is meeting today in Grand Cayman for its 6th Special Meeting. The meeting is being held as part of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which is being hosted in Cayman under the theme, “Investing in Food and Agriculture.”

High on the Ministerial Council’s agenda are plans to develop marine capture fisheries and aquaculture across the Caribbean, with the aim of reducing the region’s US$4 billion food import bill, while building a Caribbean seafood cuisine brand that the region and the world can embrace as a safe and healthy choice.

The 17-member Council is meeting at The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa for a three-hour session, to advance proposed legislation and guidelines which will support an enabling environment for a harmonized regime of food safety.

At the Ministerial Council’s recent meeting in Jamaica, chairman Karl Samuda, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries of Jamaica, urged the region to explore the untapped market of open-sea fish and aquaculture and to lock in a bigger share of the US$136-billion global industry.

 

Chair of Ministerial Council: Hon. Karl Samuda, CD, MP; Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries, Jamaica (Official photo)

 

Today, the fisheries ministers are looking at strategic interventions which the region can make to develop the full potential of its marine capture fisheries and aquaculture, in line with the current push towards the Blue Economy and Blue Growth, which aims to maximize benefits from the region’s expansive maritime spaces.

With the recent battering of some CARICOM countries by hurricanes and storms during this hurricane season, the need for the region to establish better mechanisms to provide risk insurance for fishers is also a high priority. The Council is reviewing the progress made towards the activation of the Caribbean Ocean Assets Sustainability Facility (COAST), which includes a risk insurance facility for fishers.

The Caribbean Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) is developing a new sovereign parametric policy for the fisheries sector, and a micro-insurance policy for small-scale fishers based on the template for the existing Livelihood Protection Policy (LPP) that targets farmers and labourers. Fishers will soon be able to purchase the policy and obtain quick payouts when they experience losses due to storms, heavy rainfall, high winds and other climate related variables.

The CRFM Ministerial Council is also discussing a model protocol for responding to the influx of sargassum seaweed that has been affecting fisheries, coastal and marine ecosystems and other economic activities in the waters of Caribbean countries. The initiative by the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO/WECAFC) to establish a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation in the Wider Caribbean Region and a proposal by South Korea for the establishment of a World Fisheries University are also being considered by the Ministerial Council.

The meeting of the Council precedes the 62nd Special Meeting of CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), scheduled for Friday. The CRFM—which is represented at the meetings in Cayman by Executive Director Milton Haughton—has lead responsibility for the development of the marine fisheries and aquaculture industries, highlighted by COTED as priority commodities. 

 

Published in Press release
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