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BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, SUNDAY, 14 October 2018 (CRFM)—A Protocol on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries and Aquaculture was approved for CARICOM States during a recent high-level meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).

 

At the 8th Special Meeting of the CRFM Ministerial Council held in Barbados on Thursday, 11 October 2018, during the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, the ministers approved the protocol to the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP), which promotes cooperation and collaboration among Caribbean people, fishers and governments in conserving, managing, and sustainably using fisheries and related ecosystems, as well as improving the welfare and livelihood of fisherfolk in the region.

 

CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said, “This protocol is of paramount importance in the region, given the urgent and ever-increasing threats to fishing communities, fishers and the health of marine ecosystems and associated fish stocks in the region posed not only by warming waters and climate change but also by the acidification of the oceans, as a result of increased absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

 

Haughton said that among the obvious challenges are the bleaching and destruction of corals reefs, frequent massive blooms of Sargassum and other harmful marine algae, and the devastation caused by storms, hurricanes and floods that States must now contend with.

 

Hurricane Maria devastated the Roseau Fisheries Complex in Dominica laHurricane Maria devastated the Roseau Fisheries Complex in Dominica last year Fisheries Division Dominica

 

This protocol on climate change and disaster risk management comes as the region is still trying to bounce back from the devastating impacts of two catastrophic hurricanes, Irma and Maria, which struck last year. Photo: Roseau Fisheries Complex in Dominica (Fisheries Division, Dominica)

 

The damage our countries suffer is not limited to what is seen on land but also extends to the valuable natural resources under the sea which we often do not see,” the Executive Director added.

 

Haughton explained that the protocol provides pragmatic tools and measures to enable States and stakeholders to adapt and build resilience by working together and sharing experiences and best practices. He also emphasized the need for donors and international development partners to recognize the challenges faced by the countries in the coastal and marine environment, and to support their initiatives by providing tangible technical assistance and funding to help with implementation of the protocol.

 

In May 2018, the CRFM Ministerial Council approved another protocol under the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy; that is, the Protocol on Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries for Caribbean Community fisherfolk and societies under the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy, aimed at improving the livelihood and welfare of small-scale fishers who are involved the harvesting, processing and marketing of fish and seafood.

 

The approved protocols were submitted to the CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), which met on Friday 12 October, at the culmination of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture.

 

The development of Protocol on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries and Aquaculture was fast-tracked with support from the Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector (CC4FISH) Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The initiative was implemented in the context of a technical cooperation agreement signed earlier this year by the CRFM and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

 

 Ministerial Council meeting 1

CRFM Ministerial Council meeting during Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which concluded on Friday (CRFM)

 

At the Ministerial Council meeting, chaired by David Osborne, Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment (MATLHE) of Montserrat, the policymakers also addressed social and welfare issues in the fisheries and aquaculture sector by issuing a policy statement on gender, youth and decent work as follows:

 

The Council accepted that international and national norms regarding issues pertaining to gender, youth, and decent work be adhered to, and be incorporated into all CRFM policies, protocols, programmes, and plans.”

 

In addition, the Council approved a concept note for a proposed project to reduce the vulnerability of coastal and marine social-ecological systems across CARICOM to Sargassum influxes. They also called upon the donor community and development partners to provide the technical assistance and funding needed to support implementation of the project, as well as the two Protocols adopted under the Common Fisheries Policy.

 

READ the protocol below or download the PDF version attached.

 

 

 Above: Minister David Osborne, Chair of CRFM Ministerial Council

 

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, WEDNESDAY, 10 October 2018 (CRFM)—Fisheries ministers from Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) are expected to deliberate upon a new Protocol on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries and Aquaculture when they meet at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, 11 October 2018, at the Hilton Hotel in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The ministers have been invited to attend the 8th Special Meeting of the CRFM Ministerial Council, the highest decision-making body of the CARICOM agency, guiding policy for the sector within Member States. The Ministerial meeting will be chaired by David Osborne, Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment (MATLHE) of Montserrat.

CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said that the proactive protocol, a high priority item on the agenda, is intended to move the fisheries sector towards greater resilience in the face of climate change and ocean acidification. “According to the experts, ocean acidification is the twin evil of climate change,” Haughton added.

He explained that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been known to cause global warming. However, only in recent years have experts begun to understand the magnitude of the effect that the absorption of carbon dioxide by the ocean—which is causing the waters to become acidic—has been having on marine life and fisheries production.

The Protocol on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries and Aquaculture sets out a framework for adaptation to the impacts of climate change and resilience to protect livelihoods, assets and marine ecosystems. This would be achieved through research and integrated adaptive planning and policy development, awareness and capacity building, and regulatory reforms. This protocol would be the second to be adopted under the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP). At their regular meeting held in Montserrat this May, the Fisheries Ministers approved the protocol on Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the region, within the framework of the CCCFP.

Also on the agenda of the policy makers is a project proposal to seek funding aimed at “Reducing the vulnerability of coastal and marine social-ecological systems to Sargassum influxes in CARICOM Member States.” The large blooms of Sargassum which have been impacting the region since 2011 are believed to be connected with changing climate, warming waters and other factors.

The Ministerial Council will also be asked to review a draft policy on decent work and gender equity mainstreaming in Fisheries at this week’s meeting. It will furthermore consider a request to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to make the services of the RV Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, a research vessel, available for a marine resource survey in the waters of CRFM Member States over the course of 2021 and 2022.

The ministerial meeting is one of several activities marking the 15th Caribbean Week of Agriculture, held annually to promote the strengthening of fisheries, agriculture and forestry. The week culminates with the special meeting of CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), which will receive a report on the deliberations of the CARICOM/CRFM Priority Commodities Working Group, established to help identify new species with potential within the context of growing the Blue Economy and scaling up value addition of existing products that can make money for the region.

COTED will also be presented with the new regional protocol on climate change for its endorsement.

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, MONDAY, 1 October 2018 (CRFM)—The state of the Eastern Caribbean flyingfish, as well as an updated plan to improve the management of this valuable resource shared across many Eastern Caribbean States, will be discussed at a two-day meeting being convened in Barbados today, Monday, 1 October 2018.

The discussions will take place in the context of the Special Meeting of the Joint Working Group on Flyingfish in the Eastern Caribbean, constituted by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Chief Fisheries Officers, as well as representatives of fisherfolk organizations, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, and development partners such as FAO-WECAFC, the University of the West Indies (UWI), the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), and the French Marine Research Agency – IFREMER, are due to attend the meeting, being held at the Blue Horizon Hotel in Christ Church, Barbados.

Long wing span of the flyingfish

 

“This meeting of the Joint CRFM/WECAFC Working Group on Flyingfish is timely and important given the challenges we face in the region from climate related changes affecting the marine environment and flyingfish stocks, and ultimately the livelihoods and food security of thousands of persons engaged along the entire flyingfish value chain,” said Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM.

“Our objective is to use the best available information and international best practices to make and implement reforms, and to work together to address the challenges and ensure sustainable and profitable fisheries now and in future,” Haughton added.

The stakeholders have been engaged in a series of consultations and technical studies towards strengthening governance arrangements, such as updating the Eastern Caribbean Flyingfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), which was adopted in 2014, as well as developing a policy for the sharing of data and information among the countries involved in the fisheries. The updated FMP is intended to improve the efficiency and viability of the sector and would also be adaptable to other fisheries.

The flyingfish initiative also focuses on improving stakeholder participation in planning and decision-making and improving collaboration between CARICOM States and the French Islands in research and management of the flyingfish fisheries.

The Joint CRFM/WECAFC Working Group is expected to produce tangible outputs for consideration by decision-makers at the meetings of the CRFM Ministerial Sub-Committee on Flyingfish as well as the Ministerial Council, both due to be held in early 2019.

Six CRFM Member States—Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago—are beneficiaries of a series of subprojects for which the CRFM is taking the lead. The CRFM had 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. CANARI in Trinidad and Tobago and Nexus Coastal Resource Management (Nexus) in Halifax, Canada, have been leading the remaining three sub-projects.

The CRFM, through this initiative, is emphasizing the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) for the management of the flyingfish Fishery, in a consultative approach that involves the full range of stakeholders. Th Initiative is supported with funding provided by the UNDP/GEF CLME+ Project which is working to achieve a healthy marine environment supporting enhanced livelihoods of the people of the Wider Caribbean.

A 16-minute documentary on the Eastern Caribbean flyingfish fisheries has also been produced as a part of the initiative.

 

 

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, MONDAY, 2 July 2018 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has been working along with United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to develop a set of best practices for small-scale fisheries centered around Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The best practices are being documented following a Pacific-Caribbean Nearshore FAD Fisher Exchange with representatives from 7 SIDS in the Caribbean and the Pacific who recently participated in a study tour in Barbados, Grenada, and Dominica.

Participants from the Caribbean and Pacific SIDs visited fisheries sites in Barbados

Participants from the Caribbean and Pacific SIDs visited fisheries sites in Barbados

Fishers and Fisheries officials from the Cook Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga were in the Caribbean for 12 days, up to the end of May, on a mission organized by the CRFM, in collaboration with the FAO Subregional Office for the Pacific Islands (FAO SAP) in Samoa. They met with fishers and representatives of fisherfolk organizations in the region; government officials and policy-makers; exporters, processors and vendors from the private sector; as well as residents of fishing communities. Gaining knowledge about the use of FADs in the Caribbean will help the Pacific to fulfill the mandate of the 2015 Road Map for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries, which calls for the supply of tuna for domestic consumption in that region to be increased by 40,000 tonnes a year by 2024.

 

CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said, “The study tour was an important opportunity for fishers and fisheries officials from the Caribbean and Pacific islands to exchange information regarding their experiences in FAD fisheries development and management.”

 

The Pacific delegation had their first information exchange with fishers, fisheries officials and private sector vendors and processors in Barbados, where small tethered FADs (called ‘screelers’) are used to attract flyingfish. Next, they traveled to Grenada, where they met the Minister responsible for Fisheries, Hon. Alvin Dabreo. The Minister expressed his country’s commitment to strengthening collaboration with the Pacific SIDs and promoting the development of sustainable FAD fisheries.

 

During their visit to Grenada and Dominica, the Pacific delegation teamed up with local fishers to make fishing gear which they used to harvest tunas and other species that had aggregated around the anchored FADs set near the coastline. Grenada operates a vibrant small-scale FAD fishery, which it introduced from Dominica, a leader in FAD technology and operation in the Caribbean. The participants explored and discussed the role of the fishing cooperative in promoting and supporting the development and management of the FAD fishery in that country.

 

Yellow Fin Tunas were caught around the FADs during the Grenada leg of the study tour

Yellow Fin Tunas were caught around the FADs during the Grenada leg of the study tour

The study tour was a critical part of the collaborative and consultative effort by the CRFM and the FAO to facilitate the exchange of fishery-specific information, as well as to collect, synthesize and analyze data and information on the small-scale FAD fisheries in the Caribbean and Pacific SIDS. During the tour, participants conducted an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) relevant to the FAD fishery, to derive a set of best practices that would support sustainable development and effective management of small-scale FAD fisheries in the Pacific and Caribbean.

 

Back in 2012, Vanuatu introduced a FAD design based on the Caribbean model, which was modified to adapt to maritime conditions in the Pacific.

Madam Chairperson

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

Protocol having been established, it is sufficient for me to say good morning to you and a special welcome to all who are here today to celebrate the Outstanding Fisher of the Year, 2018.

 

Cropped PicIt is indeed a great pleasure for me to have the privilege of bringing a few remarks on this special occasion. I recognize and commend the fishers and leaders of fisherfolk organisations here in Belize and across the Caribbean who, today, and throughout the month of June, have been celebrating Fisherfolk Day - and recognizing the very important contributions that fishers make to our countries.

 

The theme of this year's Fisherfolk Day celebration is “Working Towards Zero Hunger with Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries". Fisherfolk Day is celebrated each year across the Caribbean and globally. For many years, special church services, competitions, and award ceremonies have been held as part of Fisherfolk Day celebration.

 

We take this time to acknowledge and recognize the very important contributions that fishers, both men and women, young and old, make to social and economic development, wealth creation, and food and nutrition security in our countries. And we celebrate, commend and honour the hard-working fishers, whose important and significant contribution is often undervalued and unappreciated by society.

 

The Fisheries sector generally, and the small-scale fisheries in particular, are vitally important to the economic & social development of our countries and to the health and wellbeing of our people. This time of celebration is also an opportunity to draw attention to the many challenges and problems facing the fisheries sector. Challenges, left unattended, could undermine and jeopardize the benefits we get from the fisheries, including livelihoods of fishing communities and the food security and nutrition of our people. Here we are talking about problems, such as overfishing, habitat destruction, climate change, ocean acidification and other serious threats to the sustainability of our marine resources and ecosystems. We always have to be mindful of these and work together to address them.

 

But the theme of this year’s celebration is “Working Towards Zero Hunger with Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries". There are 2 key components here: 1st: “the concept of zero hunger” and 2nd"Small-scale Fisheries”.

 

The reality in our world today is that many people do not have enough food to eat. Every day many families -- across the globe -- struggle to feed their children a nutritious meal. In a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone, more than 800 million people still go to bed hungry every night. This is happening in poor countries and in rich ones also. For example, in the US it has been estimated that between 40-48 million struggle with hunger.

 

Not having enough -- or having the wrong food -- causes suffering and poor health and retards other areas of development and economic progress. For these reasons, eradicating hunger and malnutrition has been identified as one of the great challenges of our time.

 

In 2015, the countries of the world came together and adopted the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, commonly referred to as the SDG goals. SDG Goal 2 -- which addresses the concept of “Zero Hunger” -- pledges to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, fisheries & forestry. The key is really sustainable agriculture and fisheries (including aquaculture). 

 

Lets come back home to Belize and the Caribbean. In Belize and the Caribbean countries, we are very fortunate. God has been good to us. We have been blessed with an abundant supply of fish and rich marine biodiversity from which we can easily obtain healthy and nutritious food and livelihoods.

 

The nutritional value of fish is, unfortunately, often not recognized in our countries. We like to eat imported and processed food, which are often of inferior quality -- loaded with preservatives, additives, fats, sugars and other things that are bad for us -- and and we neglect the powerhouse, superfoods that we have locally and are very good for us.

 

Numerous studies have been done over the years that confirm the health benefits of eating fish and seafoods, which are excellent sources of protein, energy and several other important nutrients, including micronutrients. These studies have confirmed and reconfirmed that the nutritional profile of fish is superior to many other foods.

 

Omega-3 fatty acids in fish have been linked to lowered risks of asthma, dementia, depression and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, stroke and heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to promote brain development in children and brain health, improving fertility, maternal health, kidney health, immune system health, and heart health, to mention some of the benefits.

 

Fish is an extremely rich source of fat soluble vitamins such as A, D & E, water soluble vitamins such as B complex, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, iodine, and selenium. There is a growing body of evidence that a fish-rich diet helps keep the mind sharp and healthy.

 

One study found that eating fish at least once a week slows age-related mental decline by the equivalent of three to four years.

 

Women who eat fish during pregnancy have brighter children. This was the conclusion from a study of almost 9,000 British families taking part in the Children of the 90s project at the University of Bristol which studied children’s behavior and intelligence.

 

The main concern about fish has been the presence of low levels of methyl mercury in some kinds of fish, but the only known cases of mercury poisoning from fish come from Japan, where in the 1950s and 1960s industrial pollution of the sea caused problems for people living in Minamata and Niigata.

 

Long-term studies in the Netherlands have shown that people who eat fish are less likely to develop heart disease. The Japanese, for whom fish form a significant part of the diet, have the greatest life expectancy in the world.

 

I have said all this to make the simple point that the fish and seafood we have available to us in our waters are very important for livelihoods and foreign exchange but even more important for food and nutrition security, ending hunger and malnutrition, and achieving the goal of zero hunger.

 

The fisheries sector in Belize is entirely small-scale in nature. In some CARICOM countries, there are some large-scale industrial and semi-industrial type fisheries but overall, the fisheries are overwhelmingly small-scale, so the small-scale fisheries are very, very important in the Caribbean region and globally. About 70% of all the fish and seafood consumed globally comes from small-scale fishers. Notwithstanding this fact, the needs of small-scale fishers have long been overlooked.

 

In 2015, FAO adopted The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines). This is an international document setting out principles and standards, and providing guidance for sustainable small-scale fisheries governance and development. The intention is to ensure that governments and development partners give due consideration to the needs of small-scale fishers and their communities, and ensure proper management and sustainable use of the resources.

 

On 18 May 2018, the Ministerial Council of the CRFM adopted a Protocol incorporating the FAO SSF Guidelines in the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy and called on CARICOM Goverments to implement the provisions of the guidelines. So as a region, we have to give more serious attention to the needs of our small-scale fishers who work under difficult circumstances and have been making such an important contribution to food and nutrition security.

 

We want a future in the Caribbean where our small-scale fisheries are sustainable, resilient and productive -- and are used in a way that promotes economic growth, food security, health, and the prosperity of our people now and in the future.

 

In closing, we at the CRFM look forward to working closely with the fisherfolk, NGO community, and all other partners with an interest in fisheries to end hunger, secure the livelihoods and resilience of fishing communities and achieve vibrant, sustainable and profitable small-scale fisheries.

 

I take this opportunity to again acknowledge, recognize and commend the strong, hardworking, dedicated fishers and their families in Belize and across the Caribbean region. To those who are here this morning, and those who are at sea, or at work in the villages or markets, I thank you for the tremendous sacrifice and service you provide to your communities, to the nation, and to the region - often under very difficult and trying circumstances and with little recognition, support or understanding from others.

 

Thank you very much and may God bless you and keep you safe in all your endeavours.

 

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Wednesday, 30 May 2018 (CRFM)—On the conclusion of its second fisheries value chain management training workshop, which was held in Port of Spain, Trinidad during 22-24 May 2018, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and its Workshop partners were delighted with the level of public-private sector sharing and engagement that contributed to a very rich learning experience for all participants.

 

In their evaluation, several participants stated that the Workshop content was ‘relevant’ and ‘very useful’ and that it was ‘an eye-opener’, especially with regard to experiences in Iceland and the region about identifying new products and markets that ensure all parts of the fish catch are used for maximum economic gain, and even for ‘making more from less’ when necessary.

 

Eleven of the Workshop’s 21 participants were senior representatives from the processing arm of the fishing and seafood industry. Moreover, two CEOs, Mrs. Allison Butters-Grant of Global Seafood Distributors, and Mr. David Lanser from Trinidad Seafoods Ltd., shared key lessons and success stories from their long years of experience working in the industry.

 

Lanser and Butters-Grant each highlighted the importance of maintaining a reputation of being a processor associated with a good quality product, while both also lamented that if they rejected fish in poor condition, fishers would often sell the sub-standard product to another processor at a lesser cost.

 

Lanser also took the opportunity to highlight concerns about a possible decline in supplies of fresh fish in Trinidad. This was a potential stumbling block for further development of any fish processing business, as the Workshop acknowledged that proximity and quality of the fresh product and raw material were vital for the best quality, price, and diversity of end products.

 

According to the Iceland experience, the diversity of end products from fish raw material is huge, as Iceland makes products like fishmeal for the aquaculture industry, fish oil and fish calcium for use in human dietary supplements, other fish extracts for use by the cosmetic and medical industries, and fish leather for the fashion industry. Iceland, through extensive industry research support, continues to explore new fishery products, as well as new options for making their entire fishery value chain more efficient in terms of mechanization, time, and use of renewable energy.

 

Although the Workshop was not expected to focus on the challenges faced by the public sector in achieving a sustainable source of raw material supply, several lectures intimated the need for private sector to keep itself fully informed about the often changing nature of harvest operations as an integral part of good fishing industry business planning. In her role as a resource person for the Workshop, Butters-Grant supported this call for closer public-private sector collaboration and cooperation for achieving sustainable fisheries, noting that “if there is no sustainability there will be nothing to add value to, as unsustainable practices will lead to decline of economically important fish species.”

 

Wrap-up discussions yielded very rewarding exchanges and recommendations. Private sector participants proposed that future training sessions should include at least one field exercise, and spoke about the need to include fishers as well, perhaps beginning with examination of an entire value chain for a specific, selected resource/product. On the other hand, public sector personnel had recommendations pertinent to their own area of work – they identified the need for future policy setting to facilitate more holistic approaches to support value chain management and value creation for the industry, and also the need to improve the timely flow of public sector information to the private sector.

 

CRFM’s Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Susan Singh-Renton, chatted with several private sector representatives afterwards to get their individual views. Jim Baker of Caicos Pride, Turks and Caicos Islands expressed his satisfaction, saying “I am glad that I came. It was definitely worth it”.  Catherine Sheriann Johnson, Managing Director’s Assistant of the Spice Isle Fish House (SIFH) Group in Grenada, and with 20 years of industry experience, remarked that she intended to make use of the information shared, including engaging with the MSC student based in Iceland who is currently studying about value creation from tuna heads. Allison Butters-Grant reflected on the importance of follow-up, noting that “The sector is my passion and I do look towards a positive way forward with the CRFM. We need action.”

 

For this Workshop, CRFM had teamed up with the United Nations University Fisheries Training Programme, the University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine Campus, and the Caribbean Fisheries Training and Development Institute (CFTDI).

 

 

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, WEDNESDAY, 23 May 2018 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the FAO Subregional Office for the Pacific Islands (FAO SAP) in Samoa are collaborating to host the Pacific-Caribbean Nearshore FAD Fisher Exchange – a 12-day study tour in three Caribbean countries.

Stakeholders from four Pacific territories – Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga and Samoa – arrived in Barbados this weekend for the first leg of the tour, organized to facilitate the sharing of experiences among stakeholders from the Pacific and Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The tour will also facilitate the development of best practices to support sustainable development of small-scale fisheries which rely on the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs).

Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM said, "We are very pleased to be able to host our visitors from the Pacific Islands and not only share our successes and knowledge regarding the use and management of FADs by our small-scale fishers to improve production of pelagic fishes, but also to learn from their experiences in the Pacific. This study tour is mutually beneficial to fisherfolk in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands.”

The team began with visits to fish markets and landing sites in Barbados. Tour participants also dialogued while there with members of the local Fisheries Association.

They moved on next to Grenada, where they are also to visit fish markets and landing sites, and hold discussions with fishing associations there.

The final leg of their tour is Dominica, where they will, likewise, engage stakeholders in that country.

The tour is scheduled to conclude on May 30, and the information shared will be compiled to produce a publication detailing the characteristics and status of small-scale FAD fisheries in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The report will focus on fisheries management, fishing operations, the technology used, the engagement of fishers in decision-making, care of the catch, marketing and sale of products, data collection, as well as best practices for the fisheries. It will be disseminated once finalized.

Organizers note that nearshore FADs are gaining momentum in the Pacific region as a tool to enhance food security and income for fishers and communities, and to reduce pressure on the resources of lagoons and reef fisheries. Evaluating FAD fisheries in other parts of the world, such as the Caribbean, can provide greater insights into both risks and opportunities associated with fisheries development, they detailed.

FADs are effective in harvesting pelagic fish, and in some countries, they are deployed by fishers or by governments for public use.

The study tour is being implemented under a letter of agreement which the CRFM and the FAO signed earlier this month for the sharing of information across SIDS, to identify best practices associated with the sustainable development of small-scale fisheries around anchored FADs.

 

Hon. David Osborne, Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment, Montserrat, newly elected chair of the Council

 

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, WEDNESDAY, 23 May 2018 (CRFM)—Fisheries Ministers who recently attended the 12th Regular Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), held in Montserrat on Friday, 18 May 2018, endorsed a newly drafted protocol on Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the region.

CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, noted that small-scale fisheries are the mainstay of the fisheries industry, both in the region and around the globe. He said that small-scale fisheries accounts for more than 95% of fisheries in CARICOM and are vital for food security and employment, particularly in coastal communities. Globally, it accounts for 90% of all the fisheries produced, Haughton said.

CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton

CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton

 

 

He explained that the Protocol had been developed within the framework of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP), accepted by CRFM Member States in 2014. The protocol, which addresses principles and standards for securing and strengthening small-scale fisheries, is the first protocol under the CCCFP, he added.

The Ministerial Council endorsed the Protocol and agreed on the need for immediate implementation. It, furthermore, called on regional and international development partners and donors to support the Protocol on small-scale fisheries and to assist Member States with implementing it as well as the CCCFP, to improve fisheries and aquaculture governance, as well as management in the region.

Outgoing chairman of the Ministerial Council, Hon. Noel Holder, M.P., Minister of Agriculture, Guyana, highlighted the need for government executives within CRFM Member States to help move the process forward.

He also flagged climate change, security at sea, and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as three priority areas for the Caribbean’s fisheries sector. At the opening of the Meeting, Holder spoke of the destruction wrought by two catastrophic hurricanes, Irma and Maria, on some CRFM Member States last year, amid a period of above normal cyclonic events attributed to climate change.

Minister Holder completes tenure

Hon. Noel Holder, M.P., Minister of Agriculture, Guyana, outgoing chair of the Ministerial Council

 

On the issue of IUU fishing, Holder said that in CARICOM, 25% of catches are unreported and 5% are illegal, based on information published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Whereas illegal fishing is a problem – both globally and regionally – so too is piracy on the open waters. Minister Holder underscored during his remarks that the security of fishers as they traverse the waters of the Caribbean must be a high priority as the Council forges ahead. He spoke in light of the recently reported pirate attack off Suriname, feared to have claimed the lives of at least a dozen Guyanese fishers. The Minister said that his sympathies are with the families of the affected men.

Haughton noted that the Council meeting was taking place against the backdrop of a difficult and challenging period in the region for many countries, repositioning and reengineering their economies and preparing to address the “new normal” environment challenged by a changing climate, as well as warming and increasingly acidic waters.

Haughton cautioned, though, that the road ahead to building climate-smart, resilient economies; realize sustainable growth and development; and create jobs and prosperity for Caribbean people could prove difficult and challenging, but the CRFM’s resolve would not be broken.

He underscored that, “It is only through joint efforts that we can resolve the big problems, such as overfishing, climate change, marine pollution, invasive marine species, Sargassum seaweed inundation, [and] IUU fishing.”

The need for a united front was echoed by Hon. David Osborne, Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment, Montserrat.

“Fish know no boundaries. Let us, therefore, unite as ‘One Caribbean’ to conserve and sustainably use our oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development,” said Osborne, who was elected as the new chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council on Friday.

The Minister said that the Caribbean has its niche markets, which include fisheries, and he urged CRFM Member States “to step up to the plate and work with each other” in developing the sector sustainably.

The Ministerial Council also adopted a Policy Statement on fisheries co-Management and fisher engagement and participation, supported through a recently concluded project funded by Japan. The meeting also recognized the successful development of the fisheries using fish aggregating devices (FAD), which was supported by the Project. Although the Caribbean Fisheries Co-Management Project (CARIFICO) ended in April, the Council endorsed a call for the region to pursue continued fisheries cooperation with Japan, with which CARICOM has had a long-standing, productive relationship spanning more than two decades.


BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, THURSDAY, 17 May 2018 (CRFM)—Caribbean Fisheries Ministers from Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) are expected to consider management plans for two vital fisheries, a protocol on small-scale fisheries and a policy on gender equality mainstreaming at their 12th Meeting, scheduled for Friday, 18 May 2018 in Montserrat.

At the upcoming meeting, Hon. David Osborne, Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment in Montserrat, will assume chairmanship of the CRFM Ministerial Council from Hon. Noel Holder, Minister of Agriculture in Guyana. 

Minister Holder

Outgoing chair of the Ministerial Council, Hon. Noel Holder, Minister of Agriculture, Guyana

High on the agenda are two fisheries management plans that the Ministers will be asked to approve: the Sub-Regional Fisheries Management Plan for Blackfin Tuna and the management plan for fisheries conducted using fish aggregating devices (FAD), which is a growing fishery in the region. 

The Ministers will also consider a protocol developed under the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP) to secure sustainable small-scale fisheries. The main objectives of the protocol are to enhance food security, improve the socioeconomic situation of fishworkers, and achieve sustainable use of fishery resources, through the promotion of a human-rights based approach.

In addition, the Ministers will discuss a regional policy aimed at mainstreaming gender equality in fisheries development, and management policies and programmes in CRFM Member States. 

Milton Haughton, the Executive Director of the CRFM, said, “The focus of this Ministerial Council meeting is on building resilience and equity in the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector. The Ministers will, therefore, discuss and decide on a number of policy instruments designed to strengthen management and conservation of key fisheries and their ecosystems, and enhance governance through equity and equality, inclusiveness, and participatory planning and decision-making processes.”

The Ministerial Council will also consider a proposal to collaborate with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), to look at ways in which the region can access international support and funding to reduce ghost fishing in Caribbean waters. Ghost fishing becomes a concern when gears continue to fish after getting lost during natural disasters such as hurricanes. 

At Friday’s meeting, the Council will review progress made in implementing its earlier decisions, as well as the overall status and trends in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. Advancements in fisheries research and development, the sustainable use and management of fisheries resources, aquaculture development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in fisheries, as well as capacity building and institutional strengthening will also be discussed.

The 12th Meeting of the CRFM Ministerial Council will serve to advance recommendations coming out of last month’s meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the technical and advisory arm of the CRFM.

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