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Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, 10 April 2019 --The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and CCRIF SPC have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop climate-resilient fisheries and aquaculture industries in the region. The purpose of the MOU is to formalize collaboration around the Caribbean Oceans and Aquaculture Sustainability Facility (COAST) initiative, which will help to reduce the risk that climate change poses to food security and nutrition and to mitigate climate change impacts on sustainable food production as it relates to the fisheries sector.

Specifically, the MOU will facilitate:

  • The finalization of a sovereign insurance COAST product for the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in the Caribbean;
  • The rollout of the COAST product, including inter alia communication to improve awareness and understanding among stakeholders, and training for government officials and professionals in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors;
  • Continual support and promotion of the COAST product within CRFM Member States;
  • Exploration and promotion of microinsurance products for small enterprises, fishers and other persons in the fisheries and aquaculture industries;
  • Promotion of climate-resilient fishing, fish farming and resource management practices among CRFM Member States.

 

CCRIF CEO, Mr. Isaac Anthony indicated that, “We are pleased that through this initiative, CCRIF will add a fisheries/aquaculture product to its current suite of parametric insurance policies for tropical cyclones, excess rainfall and earthquakes – thus expanding the portfolio of catastrophe insurance options for the countries in this region." Providing this option to governments in the region will support CRFM’s mandate to promote the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy, specifically the Protocol on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries and Aquaculture.

 

“Fishers and fishing communities in the Caribbean are facing increasing threats and risks from climate change and related hazards,” said Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM. “We welcome this partnership between the CRFM and CCRIF. The insurance products which will become available will help enormously to reduce the risks and uncertainties, as well as improve resilience of our fishing communities by enabling them to recover and rebuild without delay after disaster events,” he noted.

 

Jagbir-Garcia Headley and Manji

 

(L-R): Ms. Yinka Jagbir-Garcia, Dr. Maren Headley and Dr. Stephen Manji

 

CCRIF and CRFM have collaborated in the past and CRFM has also participated as a host organization in CCRIF’s Regional Internship Programme. In 2017, Ms. Yinka Jagbir-Garcia from Trinidad worked as an intern at the CRFM and over a 2-month period assisted with the development of a Model Disaster Management Plan for the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector of CRFM Member States.

 

 

About the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism: The CRFM is an organization established to promote and facilitate the responsible utilization of the Caribbean region’s fisheries and other aquatic resources for the economic and social benefits of the current and future population of the region. It is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy, including the Protocol on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries and Aquaculture, which has the goal of ensuring development of regional fisheries and aquaculture sectors that are resilient to climate change and ocean acidification, and enhanced through comprehensive disaster management and sustainable use of marine and other aquatic living resources and ecosystems.

 

About CCRIF SPC: CCRIF SPC is a segregated portfolio company, owned, operated and registered in the Caribbean. It limits the financial impact of catastrophic hurricanes, earthquakes and excess rainfall events to Caribbean and – since 2015 – Central American governments by quickly providing short-term liquidity when a parametric insurance policy is triggered. It is the world’s first regional fund utilizing parametric insurance, giving member governments the unique opportunity to purchase earthquake, hurricane and excess rainfall catastrophe coverage with lowest-possible pricing. CCRIF was developed under the technical leadership of the World Bank and with a grant from the Government of Japan. It was capitalized through contributions to a Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) by the Government of Canada, the European Union, the World Bank, the governments of the UK and France, the Caribbean Development Bank and the governments of Ireland and Bermuda, as well as through membership fees paid by participating governments. In 2014, an MDTF was established by the World Bank to support the development of CCRIF SPC’s new products for current and potential members, and facilitate the entry for Central American countries and additional Caribbean countries. The MDTF currently channels funds from various donors, including: Canada, through Global Affairs Canada; the United States, through the Department of the Treasury; the European Union, through the European Commission, and Germany, through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and KfW, and Ireland. In 2017, the Caribbean Development Bank, with resources provided by Mexico, approved a grant to CCRIF SPC to provide enhanced insurance coverage to the Bank’s Borrowing Member Countries.

 

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Tuesday, 19 March 2019 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will convene the 17th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum on 20-21 March 2019 at the Bird Rock Beach Hotel, Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis.

 

Honourable Eugene Hamilton, Minister of Agriculture, Health, National Health Insurance, Human Settlements, Community Development, Gender Affairs, Social Services, Land and Cooperatives will deliver the feature address. Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM, and outgoing chair of the Forum, Alwyn Ponteen of the Fisheries Division in Montserrat, will also address the gathering.

 

At the annual two-day meeting, heads of national fisheries authorities in CRFM Member States, and representatives from observer bodies and partner organisations will discuss the state of the region’s fisheries and aquaculture resources, challenges confronting the sector, interventions being led by the CRFM, as well as priority actions to promote blue growth and ensure sustainable use, conservation and management of the region’s fisheries resources and marine ecosystems.

 

The CRFM Secretariat will provide an update on a recently concluded, regional study on the impacts of unprecedented Sargassum inundation on the Caribbean. The CRFM has noted that 2018 was a year of record high influx. There are ongoing concerns over the impact on fisheries, and the broader socio-economic and environmental impacts on coastal communities across our region.

 

It is also expected that the Forum will agree on future plans for research and development, sustainable management and use of fisheries resources, sustainable development of aquaculture, and the adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management in fisheries. They will furthermore discuss capacity-building and institutional strengthening, and enhanced collaboration across Member States.

 

The Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the technical arm of the CRFM, will be updated on the status of implementation of 2018 decisions of the Forum and Ministerial Council. It will subsequently outline a set of recommendations for action, to be tabled at the upcoming meeting of the Ministerial Council, due to be hosted in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis in May 2019.

 

The last meeting of the Forum was hosted in Montserrat, which has served as chair of the Forum for the past year. The leadership of the Forum will now be handed over to St. Kitts and Nevis for 2019-2020. A vice chair is also to be elected to help lead the Forum.

 

 

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, FRIDAY, 25 January 2019 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has initiated a regional fact-finding study to document the record-breaking influx of Sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean Sea in 2018, and the impacts this phenomenon has been having on countries in the region since 2011.

The fact-finding survey is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), that has coordinated official development assistance from Japan to CARICOM States for over two decades.

Over the past 7 years, massive Sargassum influxes have been having adverse effects on national and regional economies in the Caribbean, with substantial loss of livelihoods and economic opportunities, primarily in the fisheries and tourism sectors. Large Sargassum influxes had been experienced in this region in 2011, 2014 and 2015, but it reached unprecedented levels in 2018, with more Sargassum affecting the Caribbean for a longer period of time than had previously been observed.

It is estimated that clean-up could cost the Caribbean at least $120 million in 2018. The CRFM Ministerial Council adopted the “Protocol for the Management of Extreme Accumulations of Sargassum on the Coasts of CRFM Member States” in 2016. The protocol has been guiding the drafting of national Sargassum management protocols for Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with support from the CC4FISH project, an initiative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

In the coming weeks, the CRFM Secretariat will lead extensive consultations with key national stakeholders in the public and private sector, including interests in fisheries, tourism, and environment, as well as with coastal communities and other related sectors. Remote surveys and field missions in select Member States will provide a broad knowledge-base on exactly how the phenomenon has been affecting the countries.

 

PHOTO-Consett Bay

Consett Bay, on the east coast of Barbados, also experienced major Sargassum inundation during 2018. (Photo: CRFM)

 

Through the project, the CRFM will identify heavily affected areas, the time and frequency of extreme blossoms and accumulation of Sargassum, the quantity of accumulation, and elements associated with it, such as the species of fish and types of debris. A review of the history and scope of the impacts (both positive and negative) will be conducted and the extent of financial losses quantified. The CRFM will also identify research and countermeasures taken by the national governments, regional organizations, research institutions, and other development partners and donors. Finally, the study will suggest actions and scope of support that Japan may provide to help the countries address the problem.

During the study, the CRFM will engage other regional institutions such as Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies at the University of the West Indies (CERMES-UWI), the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, (CIMH), the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission. The CRFM will also engage development partners which have been doing Sargassum-related work in the region, including the FAO, UN Environment Regional Coordinating Unit, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and IOCARIBE, the Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), an agency of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

According to the CRFM, Sargassum influxes disrupt fishing operations through gear entanglement and damage; impeding fishing and other vessels at sea; reducing catches of key fisheries species, such as flyingfish and adult dolphinfish; changing the availability and distribution of coastal and pelagic fisheries resources; and disrupting coastal fishing communities and tourism activities.

However, this challenge has also inspired innovative interventions, and opportunities for revenue-generation include value-addition through the production of fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, animal feed, and biofuel. The CRFM notes, though, that the financial or other benefits remain to be quantified.

The Sargassum phenomenon is believed to be driven by several factors, including climate change and increased sea surface temperature; change in regional winds and ocean current patterns; increased supply of Saharan dust; and nutrients from rivers, sewage and nitrogen-based fertilizers.

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, FRIDAY, 25 January 2019 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has initiated a regional fact-finding study to document the record-breaking influx of Sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean Sea in 2018, and the impacts this phenomenon has been having on countries in the region since 2011.

 

The fact-finding survey is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), that has coordinated official development assistance from Japan to CARICOM States for over two decades.

 

Over the past 7 years, massive Sargassum influxes have been having adverse effects on national and regional economies in the Caribbean, with substantial loss of livelihoods and economic opportunities, primarily in the fisheries and tourism sectors. Large Sargassum influxes had been experienced in this region in 2011, 2014 and 2015, but it reached unprecedented levels in 2018, with more Sargassum affecting the Caribbean for a longer period of time than had previously been observed.

 

It is estimated that clean-up could cost the Caribbean at least $120 million in 2018. The CRFM Ministerial Council adopted the “Protocol for the Management of Extreme Accumulations of Sargassum on the Coasts of CRFM Member States” in 2016. The protocol has been guiding the drafting of national Sargassum management protocols for Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with support from the CC4FISH project, an initiative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

 

In the coming weeks, the CRFM Secretariat will lead extensive consultations with key national stakeholders in the public and private sector, including interests in fisheries, tourism, and environment, as well as with coastal communities and other related sectors. Remote surveys and field missions in select Member States will provide a broad knowledge-base on exactly how the phenomenon has been affecting the countries.

 

PHOTO-Consett Bay

 

Through the project, the CRFM will identify heavily affected areas, the time and frequency of extreme blossoms and accumulation of Sargassum, the quantity of accumulation, and elements associated with it, such as the species of fish and types of debris. A review of the history and scope of the impacts (both positive and negative) will be conducted and the extent of financial losses quantified. The CRFM will also identify research and countermeasures taken by the national governments, regional organizations, research institutions, and other development partners and donors. Finally, the study will suggest actions and scope of support that Japan may provide to help the countries address the problem.

 

During the study, the CRFM will engage other regional institutions such as Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies at the University of the West Indies (CERMES-UWI), the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, (CIMH), the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission. The CRFM will also engage development partners which have been doing Sargassum-related work in the region, including the FAO, UN Environment Regional Coordinating Unit, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and IOCARIBE, the Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), an agency of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

 

According to the CRFM, Sargassum influxes disrupt fishing operations through gear entanglement and damage; impeding fishing and other vessels at sea; reducing catches of key fisheries species, such as flyingfish and adult dolphinfish; changing the availability and distribution of coastal and pelagic fisheries resources; and disrupting coastal fishing communities and tourism activities.

 

However, this challenge has also inspired innovative interventions, and opportunities for revenue-generation include value-addition through the production of fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, animal feed, and biofuel. The CRFM notes, though, that the financial or other benefits remain to be quantified.

 

The Sargassum phenomenon is believed to be driven by several factors, including climate change and increased sea surface temperature; change in regional winds and ocean current patterns; increased supply of Saharan dust; and nutrients from rivers, sewage and nitrogen-based fertilizers.

 

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.

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