BELIZE CITY, FRIDAY, 4 OCTOBER 2019 (CRFM)—After several hours of deliberation at their Second Joint Meeting held in Belize on Wednesday, 2 October 2019, Fisheries Ministers from Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA) inked a milestone instrument. The “Declaration on CRFM-OSPESCA Cooperation for Sustainable Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources” signals their resolve to solidify the cooperation birthed at their first joint meeting held in Belize 7 years earlier, in 2012.
Among the agreed areas of cooperation are: monitoring and managing Sargassum blooms which have been adversely affecting the region since 2011; the control of invasive species, with emphasis on the Pacific lionfish; and the development of small-scale fisheries to ensure the protection of livelihoods and food security. The renewed alliance will also support the implementation of fisheries management plans for shared stocks, such as spiny lobster, queen conch and migratory pelagic species; programmes on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in fisheries and aquaculture; as well as ocean-based fisheries and aquaculture economic activities, including value chain development.
The CRFM and OSPESCA countries have, furthermore, pledged to develop coordinated positions on international processes, such as the listing of threatened and endangered species under CITES; fisheries subsidies negotiations led by the WTO; and the UN conference to develop a legally-binding agreement on conservation, management and sustainable use of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
Representatives from Grenada and Guatemala sign joint declaration (Photo: CRFM)
In signing the Joint Declaration, the Fisheries Ministers also approved the Second Joint CRFM-OSPESCA Action Plan (2020 to 2025), which is a 5-year roadmap to guide collaborative programmes and activities agreed in the declaration by the two sub-regional organisations.
Among the commitments made is that, “The CRFM and OSPESCA Secretariats and Member States will work together to strengthen cooperation to deter, prevent and eliminate IUU [Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated] fishing in the region.”
At the opening of the meeting, Keynote Speaker, Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s Minister of State with responsibility for Fisheries, said: “IUU Fishing is undoubtedly causing damage to our fish populations in our countries, and we must continue to actively identify and implement tangible and effective actions on a bilateral or sub-regional level to curb these illicit activities.”
Prior to the meeting with OSPESCA, the CRFM Ministerial Council held its 9th Special Meeting, at which it approved the Regional Plan of Action on IUU Fishing for the Western Central Atlantic region, with a commitment to developing a CARICOM-specific Action Plan. The Jamaican delegation pointed out to their counterparts that IUU fishing recently forced them to impose a moratorium on their conch fishery, resulting in multi-million-dollar losses for the country, its export sector and fishers. Their hope is that the collaboration with OSPESCA will help to effectively prevent and deter IUU fishing in Caribbean waters.
Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM Secretariat, added that, “It is the recognition that we share a common interest and a common destiny in the sustainable use and protection of the Caribbean Sea and its living marine resources and ecosystems that inspires and underpins the partnership that is developing between the Caribbean and Central American sub-regions in fisheries and aquaculture.”
Hon. Eugene Hamilton, Chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council and Minister Responsible for Fisheries in Saint Kitts and Nevis, said: “It is predicted that 90% of the world’s fish protein will come from aquaculture by 2050.” He, consequently, urged the countries, generally regarded as small island developing states and coastal states, to work together to develop aquaculture.
Norma Lobo, General Director for the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture, represented the Minister of Agriculture of El Salvador, Pro-Tempore Chairman of OSPESCA, at the meeting. In her brief remarks, she indicated that this was the first such meeting in which she has participated, and expressed her enthusiasm for learning more about the challenges faced by the region and, furthermore, working together to confront them.
Haughton expressed optimism that, “This growing strategic partnership between our countries, our fisheries institutions and our stakeholders in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, will yield tangible mutual benefit from our collective experience, expertise and cooperation in addressing the common challenges we face.”
The UNDP-GEF Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+) Project provided financial support to facilitate the convening of the meeting in Belize City, Belize. It has also been providing support to the CRFM, OSPESCA, FAO/WECAFC, UN Environment and other regional organisations to strengthen arrangements for improved governance and management of the fisheries resources and marine environment of the region.
Ministerial delegations from Caribbean and Central American countries to discuss strategic actions for the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector
Belize City, Monday, 30 September 2019 (CRFM)—Ministerial Fisheries delegations from countries across the Caribbean and Central America will converge in Belize this week for high-level talks aimed at solidifying partnerships at the political level, as well as setting out priority areas for attention and mutual cooperation.
On Tuesday, 1 October 2019, the CRFM will convene the Ninth Special Meeting of its Ministerial Council, the chief decision-making arm of the inter-governmental CARICOM agency. A priority item on the agenda of the CRFM meeting is a regional plan of action to combat Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The Caribbean Ministers will also discuss international issues important to Member States, such as the World Trade Organization negotiations on Fisheries Subsidies.
Following the CRFM Ministerial Meeting, on Wednesday, 2 October 2019, the CARICOM delegations will dialogue with their counterparts from Central America during their second joint high-level meeting. The first ministerial meeting of CRFM and the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA) was hosted on 3-4 September 2012 in Belize, a member of both sub-regional organizations.
On the agenda of the upcoming CRFM- OSPESCA meeting are pressing issues that confront both sub-regions. High on the agenda are IUU fishing; climate change and disaster risk management; blue economic growth; and the sustainable use, management and conservation of key species such as queen conch, lobster, pelagic species, sharks and reef fishes.
The Fisheries sector is one of the important employers across our region (Photo: CRFM)
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said: “The aim of our meeting is to strengthen regional cooperation and integration initiatives to improve implementation of our respective fisheries policies and address the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; in particular, Sustainable Development Goal 14 on Oceans and Seas. We are enhancing our partnership to make progress on some of the big issues regarding sustainable development and conservation of fisheries and aquaculture in the region and in our national economies by enhancing food and nutrition security, providing jobs and livelihoods, and improving trade and resilience of fishing communities to climate change and related hazards.”
The parties – CRFM and OSPESCA – intend to update their 2012 Joint Plan of Action, setting out the specific priority areas of cooperation over the next five years. It is also expected that a Ministerial Declaration addressing areas of common interest and charting the way forward for collaborative action will be concluded and signed by participating Ministers.
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
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
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.
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.
Belize City, Friday, 20 October 2017 (CRFM)—Several Caribbean countries have been recently devastated by two catastrophic hurricanes, Irma and Maria, underscoring the need for Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) to press forward with risk insurance for the fisheries sector—being developed by the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility Segregated Portfolio Company (CCRIF SPC, formerly known as the CCRIF) in collaboration with the World Bank. This initiative to develop risk insurance for the fisheries sector in CARICOM States is supported by the United States government under the Caribbean Ocean and Aquaculture Sustainability Facility (COAST).
At the 7th Meeting of the CRFM Ministerial Council, hosted in Georgetown, Guyana, on 5th October 2017, policy-makers underscored the need for CARICOM Member States to move ahead with adopting risk insurance that would enable the fisheries sector and fishers to bounce back more quickly after a hurricane strikes. So far, there has been no payout provided specifically for the rehabilitation and recovery of the fisheries sector, although there have been other payouts under the broader umbrella of the CCRIF scheme. Since its establishment in 2007, the CCRIF SPC has made payouts of a little more than US$100 million to 12 of its 17 member countries – all within 14 days of the disaster event.
“Having such an insurance scheme is one of the good things we can do to help fishers get back on their feet as soon as possible after a disaster,” said CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton.
The development and implementation of the livelihood protection policy for individual small-scale operators and the sovereign parametric policy for States that the CCRIF SPC is working on, now assumes greater urgency for the sector, the CRFM Executive Director underscored.
Haughton expresses the hope that in light of the destruction and devastation which the recent hurricanes have caused in CRFM Member States such as Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Haiti, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Turks and Caicos, that all parties will redouble their efforts to get the risk insurance facilities for the sector established as soon as possible and certainly before the next hurricane season. He said that the insurance policies are being designed to provide quick relief to those fishers who experience distress as a result of disasters such as hurricanes.
A report published by the Fisheries Division of Antigua and Barbuda in September, titled ‘HURRICANE IRMA – PRELIMINARY DAMAGE ASSESSMENT FOR ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA’S FISHERIES SECTOR,” said: “In terms of the impact Hurricane Irma had on fishers and their families, considering the role the sector plays with respect to employment, food security and as a ‘safety-net’ for other economic activities (i.e., occupational pluralism), a total of 778 individuals were affected including 193 fishers and 585 financial dependents… This accounted for 25.5% of the population of Barbuda (1,800) (i.e., one in every four persons) and 0.3% of the population of Antigua (91,440).”
The report notes that there were 37 boats, over 2,000 fish traps, and 17 gill nets destroyed. An aquaponics facility at which fish and vegetables are farmed together suffered minor damage and damages were also reported to some fisheries facilities, such as wharves and public buildings.
The CRFM Secretariat is currently developing a model Disaster Management Plan for the Fisheries Sector of the region to facilitate adequate preparation by stakeholders before disaster events and to ensure speedy, coordinated assessment and recovery efforts after such events.
Study on the impacts of rising cost factors such as capital, labour, maintenance and energy costs on fishing operations in the CRFM Member States and REBYC-II LAC participating countries
The CRFM Secretariat is inviting expressions of interest from suitably qualified persons to undertake a short term assignment to review the impact of rising cost factors, such as capital, labour, maintenance and energy costs on fisheries operations in the CRFM Member States and REBYC-II LAC participating countries, and propose appropriate policy options and strategies for dealing with the resulting issues in order to improve efficiency, improve on productivity and sustainability, and reduce economic risks to the sector. The project will be conducted over a period of ten (10) months between December 2015 and November 2016.
Belize City, August 27, 2014: The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will on September 5, 2014 give oral arguments to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg, Germany in response to a request for an advisory opinion on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in African waters.
ITLOS, which is made up of 21 Judges, including two from the Caribbean, namely, Judge Dolliver Nelson (Grenada), and Judge Anthony Amos Lucky (Trinidad and Tobago), is hearing oral submissions from States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and International Organisations with an interest in the subject.
Legal Counsel for the CRFM, Professor Pieter Bekker of Dundee University, UK (photo left) will join representatives of nine (9) countries and the SRFC, the European Union (EU), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in presenting oral arguments.
Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM, noted: “The hearing is as important to the Caribbean as it is to the States that have sought advice, as it could set significant precedents for the way illegal fishing is dealt with in the future, particularly regarding the liability of flag States for IUU fishing conducted by their vessels.”
He continued: “IUU fishing is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that inflicts great economic and environmental harm on States that are victims, especially developing countries such as CARICOM countries, with limited capacity for monitoring, control and enforcement of their fisheries laws.”
The SRFC is seeking advice in response to four questions:
1) What are the obligations of the flag State in cases where illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities are conducted within the Exclusive Economic Zone of third party States?
2) To what extent shall the flag State be held liable for IUU fishing activities conducted by vessels sailing under its flag?
3) Where a fishing license is issued to a vessel within the framework of an international agreement with the flag State or with an international agency, shall the State or international agency be held liable for the violation of the fisheries legislation of the coastal State by the vessel in question?
4) What are the rights and obligations of the coastal State in ensuring the sustainable management of shared stocks and stocks of common interest, especially the small pelagic species and tuna?
The Case was initiated on March 28, 2013, when the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) representing seven African States sought the Tribunal’s assistance regarding IUU fishing by vessels registered in foreign States within waters under the national jurisdiction or control of its members and on the High Seas. The SRFC includes Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone and the Gambia.
The arguments in Case 21 can be viewed via live Web stream through the ITLOS Web site (www.itlos.org).
Our Time Interning at the CRFM Secretariat
For starters, CRFM is the acronym for Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism. That was the first bit of knowledge that I accquired on my internship. The CRFM is an organization that promotes the proper use of the Caribbean’s fisheries and other aquatic resources for the economic and social benefit of current and future generations.
My experience as an intern at CRFM was quite informative as it required me to learn more about the fishing industry, such as the socio-economic impacts of the fishing industry, new careers that can be found in the fishing industry and the many benefits of eating fish. Who knew the many benefits of consuming fish?
I can recall reading a CRFM publication stating that fishes are powerhouses for nutrition. They sport twenty percent of our daily protein and are rich in vitamins and trace elements that the body requires. Also they are low in sodium and fat which makes them even healthier. Furthermore, consuming fish helps with brain development.
None of this would be possible if one day our fish stocks were to become depleted. This is where CRFM steps in, to promote sustainable fishing, and proper management of our aquatic resources.
-- Asher Canto, Student, St. John’s College Junior College, Belize City, Belize
My time interning with the CRFM Secretariat was a very good experience. While there I was able to learn more about the work that they do at the CRFM and how it makes a difference throughout the CARICOM member countries.
Most of my time was spent helping to update their website. For example, I added new documents to it that were related to the various projects that they are involved in. Also, I aided in making a video to help to increase awareness about the opportunities and challenges in fisheries and its related issues to the young people of the country of Belize. The video will be on the CRFM's YouTube channel.
-- Phillip Haughton, Student, Lee University, Tennessee, USA
I, Kayla Enriquez, worked at the CRFM Secretariat for a week (26 June to 2 July 2014). It was truly a great experience for me to engage in the internship. Working with two other youths gave me a chance to connect with other people my own age and meet new people.
I was able to give my service to the CRFM in a project by putting together pictures and a video featuring several interviews. I basically assisted with the technological aspect of things. We created a mini-documentary of how youths see the fishing industry and what they can do to be a part of it and to help improve it.
This was a very interesting and eye opening experience for me, because I was closed-minded to this industry, unaware of how much fishes impact our lives. After this experience I will definitely try my very best to improve my health and eat fish more often. I am truly grateful for the experience and hope that whenever another opportunity comes up that I can help.
-- Kayla Enriquez, Student, St. John’s College Junior College, Belize City, Belize
BELIZE CITY, Tuesday, April 22, 2014 (CRFM)—In the face of new and emerging challenges—such as climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, and food and nutrition insecurity—Caribbean countries are strengthening collaborative effort which they hope would maximize their initiatives to further drive down poverty rates within fishing communities and improve food and nutrition security, while ensuring that they take advantage of modern technological avenues to add dollar-value to the fisheries resources that are a source of livelihood for nearly 200,000 fishers across the region.
It is in this vein that heads of national fisheries authorities from the seventeen (17) member states of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), as well as observers and partner agencies, will converge at the 12th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the technical, advisory arm of the CRFM, on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at Fort Young Hotel in Roseau, Dominica.
Honourable Dr. Kenneth Darroux, Dominica's Minister of the Environment, Natural Resources, Physical Planning and Fisheries, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address, at this auspicious gathering of fisheries managers and stakeholders from across the region.
The Caribbean Fisheries Forum will discuss plans for the region to adopt the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy – a progressive legal instrument which is ready for endorsement by Caribbean Heads of Government.
The country representatives will also look at the advancement of the region in implementing the Castries (St. Lucia) Declaration on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, including the recent conclusion of a Prosecution Manual and the companion Standard Operating Procedure Manual for Caribbean states, and a regional strategy to strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance systems.
The Forum will be updated on the progress of technical activities being undertaken by the CRFM Secretariat, its member states and network partners. For example, the technical team will review the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), supported by the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, as well as joint action to strengthen the conservation and management of important fisheries such as the spiny lobster, queen conch and flyingfish.
Finally, they will formulate recommendations on the way forward, for consideration by the Ministerial Council, due to meet on May 23, 2014 in Dominica.
At the 11th Forum Meeting held in Barbados a year ago, the fisheries managers contributed greatly to the development of the newly adopted Information Communications Technology (ICT) Strategy for the CRFM, as well as the Independent Performance Review and Strategic Plan for 2013-2021 for the regional fisheries body.
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton underscored the importance of the upcoming meeting of CRFM states and regional development partners.
"We will have thorough discussion on several key issues in fisheries and aquaculture and reach consensus on the way forward in improving the contribution fisheries make to the region's social and economic development," Haughton said. "We will review the progress made over the past year and discuss concrete initiatives to strengthen conservation and management of key fish species and ecosystems through cooperative actions, innovative development and value addition in the sector, as well as promote policy and institutional reforms and capacity-building initiatives to achieve sustainable growth of aquaculture and fisheries."
The CRFM Executive Director concluded by saying that "...this meeting will provide expert guidance and intellectual support to strengthen regional cooperation in fisheries in the coming years."
BELIZE CITY, Friday, February 14, 2014―The 22nd Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM)―which has over the past two days been deliberating on matters such as coral reef management, the lobster fishery, and cooperation between CARICOM States and the French Island in fisheries―concludes today in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The CRFM Executive Committee consists of representatives of 6 member states of the regional inter-governmental fisheries organization. The membership of the committee is drawn from the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, a group of government officials, fishers and representatives of private companies from CRFM states tasked with providing technical support to the CRFM.
“The Committee is addressing a number of important regional initiatives designed to ensure sustainable use of our fisheries resources and protect the marine ecosystems,” said Milton Haughton, CRFM Executive Director.
During the course of this week's meeting, the Executive Committee also worked on a legal instrument to strengthen regional cooperation for the conservation, management and sustainable use of the spiny lobster and the protection of its habitat, Haughton added.
The CRFM Executive Committee has been meeting since 2003. It holds inter-sessional meetings twice a year between sittings of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, as its principal mission is to advance the Forum's work using a consensus-building approach.