In keeping with the MOU between the CRFM and the IOI, The CRFM Secretariat is pleased to share with you Course announcement for the 2016 IOI Training Programme on Ocean Governance: Policy, Law and Management, to be held at the Dalhousie University in Canada, from18th May to 15th July 2016.
The training programme is specifically designed to benefit mid-career professionals who are responsible for some aspect of coastal or ocean governance including but not limited to personnel from Fisheries Department, Foreign Affairs, Coast Guard / Defense Force, or private sector organization. Given the under-representation of women in the upper echelons of administration and policy-making, particular emphasis is placed on trying to achieve equal numbers of female and male participants, and to create a forum where men and women can learn together, sharing different perspectives and examing issues from different viewpoints.
The programme is expected to include: • Ocean Sciences • Law of the Sea & Principled Ocean Governance • Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management • Sustainable Development • Fisheries and Aquaculture • Energy • Maritime Security • Marine Transportation • Media and Communication • Integrated Maritime Compliance & Enforcement • Negotiation • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) • Project Cycle Management • Performance Management.
Persons from CRFM Member States who are interested in being considered for the available fellowships should contact the Fisheries Division /Department for further information.
Further information on the training course may also be obtained from IOI-Canada’s website ( www.dal.ca/ioihfx ).
VIDEO: Safe Seafood from the Caribbean
A short film on the work of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) to upgrade food safety standards for fish and seafood from CARIFORUM nations [Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Dominican Republic] in a bid to access export markets and guarantee safer seafood to Caribbean consumers; from national consultations and a regional validation workshop in mid-2015.
FORMAT: MP4 1280 x 720 NTSC
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 25 August 2015, (CRFM) – Industry figures and government officials from across the Caribbean fishing industry Tuesday wrapped up two days of talks here acknowledging they were at the very early stages of introducing a new regime for safe seafood for local and international consumption.
The two-day meeting is part of a European Union-funded project to help CARIFORUM countries introduce laws, regulations and a governance system to guarantee safe seafood for export to EU markets and beyond.
The project, which is being carried out by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and supported by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), aims to ramp up food safety standards to enable CARIFORUM fish exporters to take up trading opportunities under the EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Milton Haughton, Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
“Developed countries – the EU, United States, Canada … all have standards that you must meet in order to export to their market,” said Milton Haughton, CRFM executive director. “In our countries we may not meet all those standards currently and so we want to put in place the systems which are quite complicated to be able to enter those markets to satisfy their requirements so that our products can be exported.”
The EU is requiring exporting nations put enforceable legislation in place in each country to govern SPS standards.
“The experts here (were) discussing the regulations, the human resources (and) the institutional arrangements that are required to monitor, evaluate (and) test for various pathogens, and to ensure that we do have a good system in place that meets with international best practice.” Haughton said.
So far, compliance with globally established standards in the region is voluntary – a worrisome development that experts say is stopping member states from tapping into niche markets overseas and boosting foreign exchange earnings.
A two-month long assessment by international consultants has exposed large gaps in legally binding protocols managing food safety throughout the region.
The meeting discussed how to introduce a region-wide set of food safety and environmental safeguards which were presented for review by a team of legal and scientific consultants who moved through the region assessing the state of industry over the last two months.
As they travelled through CARIFORUM group of nations – the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic -a team of consultants from Jamaica, Britain and Iceland inspected processing plants, cold storage facilities and testing laboratories.
The CRFM head expressed the hope that adopting SPS measures region-wide could also have spinoff benefits for local consumers.
“It’s not only about exporting and earning exchange; it’s also ensuring that our people have healthy and safe fish and seafood to eat,” he added. “Given the challenges that we have in this region for economic development, employment and earning foreign exchange, we have to make use of all the resources that we have including ensuring that we can get good prices for our fish and also have safe fish and seafood for our own people.”
Belize, one of the region’s leading fish and seafood exporters, is hoping to learn from other CARIFORUM countries represented at the meeting while offering to sharing information with smaller exporting nations that would help improve food safety standards.
Delilah Cabb Ayala, SPS Coordinator, Belize Agricultural Health Authority
“For the first time, we’re having a forum where we could start discussing (SPS) issues as a region,” said Delilah Cabb Ayala, SPS Coordinator for the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA). “Each country has been looking at their own legislation, trying to ensure that they make the necessary amendments, just to be able to have access to the EU and the other trading partners with which we are currently trading.”
Last year, Belize exported an estimated 44 million US dollars in shrimp alone from total exports worth 64 million US dollars.
Cabb Ayala said the regional effort to harmonise SPS rules across CARIFORUM will be a “lengthy process” but with nations such as Belize ahead of others, she is hoping that proposals will emerge that "take into account all the different levels that we are dealing with within the region."
She continued: “(This) meeting to ensure that we have harmonised procedures is a good thing. Additionally, it allows for technical experts to bring to the fore their current situations, and at that level try to come up with proposals that can actually be implemented at the national levels."
“We could learn from other countries. In the discussions, I said I will be sharing some information that we are implementing in Belize. So countries could look at our proposal and if it is for them adaptable, they could readily move with that.”
The two-day meeting posed questions regarding primary and secondary legislation, including coming food safety laws and protocols, processes for appeals, and procedures for licensing, export and controls.
The meeting considered strategic priorities at the national and regional level and began discussions on a governance structure for food safety and fisheries. The officials also considered how to integrate their work into the development of the fledgling Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) based in Suriname and the progress towards the setting up of national health and food safety authorities.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jul 30, (CRFM) – The Caribbean region's ability to cash in on a potentially lucrative, international export trade in fish and seafood is being held back by huge gaps in measures to protect food safety and animal health, experts say.
But the experts, who are investigating food handling policies in CARIFORUM countries, are set to propose a new regime for sanitary and phytosanitary – SPS – measures in CARIFORUM states.
Since starting their work in April, Jamaican SPS expert Dr. George Grant, international legal consultant Chris Hedley of the United Kingdom and experts from the renown Icelandic food safety agency, Matis Ltd., have discovered that in most instances compliance with globally established standards are voluntary – a worrisome development they say that stops member states from tapping into
niche markets overseas and boosting foreign exchange earnings.
There are also either no legally binding protocols managing food safety throughout the region or where they are practised they are disorganised and informal, say the experts.
"It's the prerogative of the government, or the official, competent authority to develop a system whereby the food safety measures can be validated, inspected and can be regulated," Dr Grant says.
In two months of national consultations on SPS measures sponsored by the European Union in a number of CARIFORUM nations, Dr. Grant said there are no documented and transparent protocols for ensuring safe food handling and monitoring food processes.
Several Caribbean nations are yet to include these standards in their national regulatory system, something that has long been mandatory in many of the developed nations to which regional fisheries and food industries might seek to export.
But the CRFM supported by a team of Seafood safety experts, veterinary expert and lawyer is developing a region-wide set of food safety and environmental safeguards which they hope to unveil for adoption in late August.
"The set of protocols we are developing is to have them formally presented and documented so that countries can use them as guides to developing their own particular protocols and practices," Dr. Grant says.
As they travelled through Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states and the Dominican Republic which make up the CARIFORUM group of nations, the team assessed benchmarks for food safety in individual countries.
The news of the progress towards SPS compliance is encouraging. The experts note that most fish processors have implemented the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) standard for fish and fish product exports.
But as the Caribbean fishing industry and food makers seek to take advantage of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to gain access to markets in European Union, there is an extra layer of requirements based on official controls.
The EU is requiring that exporting nations put enforceable legislation in place in each country to govern the SPS standards.
Through an EU-funded project, implemented by the CRFM and Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), the team is hoping to establish a uniformed set of procedures across the industry.
"The question of where to draw the level in terms of how strictly you regulate food
safety is really very much a national policy decision," Hedley says.
He cautioned that the process can be complicated, costly and potentially counter- productive: "We don't want to over-regulate and sort of crack a nut with a sledgehammer, if there are not substantial food safety problems.
"The more you regulate food safety and the stricter and more you demand in terms of that side of regulation, the more expensive products become, the less people are able to meet those requirements and they may be forced out of the business."
The aim, the legal expert says, is to step up protection measures, level the playing field, manage the risks involved in food protection and facilitate trade across the Caribbean and internationally.
"There is no end point to that, it's not like there is a single target we're going to aim for and then that's it - we can rest on our laurels. New challenges [are] arising all the time. It is a continual process of improvement," Hedley adds.
Yet, compliance is critical to the effectiveness of the new standards.
"[The EU] want to make sure that the legislation is properly in place in the country, that these requirements are not just voluntary but with specific legal requirements to implement these food safety procedures and that there are penalties in terms of not complying with them. So the businesses that don't comply with them can be taken out of the licensing process."
SPS legislation will need to be backed up by a system of government checks, controls and monitoring systems, says the SPS legal expert.
As the two-man legal team sifted through the paperwork – or lack of it – among Caribbean fisheries processors and exporters, another team of environmental monitors has been travelling the region, inspecting processing plants, cold storage facilities, testing laboratories and aquaculture facilities.
But the experts are anxious that the drive towards SPS compliance is not seen solely as jumping necessary hoops in the export trade. Hedley suggests that even if the region becomes compliant there is still no guarantee there would be an appetite for their goods in the EU. For Grant, another, often overlooked beneficiary is the Caribbean consumer who can rely more safely on wholesome food from the sea.
Fisheries managers, officials, scientists are expected to meet in Barbados on August
24 and 25 to pore over technical documents the SPS experts will produce, and their recommendations.
Hedley describes it as tool kit or resource paper which can be taken forward.
"This is a technical assistance project providing technical documents; actually they have to be developed in the real world politics and law and national sovereignty and go through the proper processes at the national levels and at the regional levels."
ST. GEORGE’S DECLARATION ON CONSERVATION, MANAGEMENT AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF THE CARIBBEAN SPINY LOBSTER (PANULIRUS ARGUS)
15 May 2015
St. George’s, Grenada, 13 May 2015 (CRFM): Fisheries Ministers from Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) are expected to sign off on the Declaration on Spiny Lobster by way of a resolution, when they convene the 9th Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM on Friday, 15 May 2015 at Flamboyant Hotel in St. George's, Grenada.
The non-binding declaration establishes a roadmap for closer cooperation among the 17 CARICOM/CRFM States to ensure long-term conservation and sustainable use of the lobster resources.
The Ministerial Council meeting is scheduled to open at 9:00 a.m. The feature address will be delivered by Honourable Roland Bhola, Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Grenada, who will assume the chairmanship of the Council on the occasion of the meeting from Honourable Johnson Drigo, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dominica.
Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM Secretariat in Belize, said: “This is another important policy-level meeting of the CRFM Member States as they seek to strengthen cooperative arrangements, to realize the full development potential of the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the region.
“Our vision and long-term goal is to transform the region’s fisheries and aquaculture into sustainable systems, in order to optimize the sector’s contribution to food and nutritional security, improved livelihoods and wealth generation, through the application of science and technology, good governance, and inclusive, sustainable development strategies.”
When they meet this Friday, the Caribbean Fisheries Ministers will be reviewing the progress being made in the implementation of existing policy instruments and programs. In charting the way forward, they will also make decisions on the next steps in the transformation process.
High on their agenda will be the endorsement of the process now underway to develop the Plan of Action to facilitate the implementation of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP).
The Fisheries Ministers will also discuss an initiative recently announced by the Government of the United States during the Caribbean Energy Summit on climate risk insurance for the Caribbean fisheries sector. This is in line with efforts to achieve Climate Smart Food Security (CSFS) using a Risk Insurance Facility (RIF).
The Ministerial Council will finally receive a full report on the outcome and recommendations of the 13th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, held in St. George’s, Grenada at the end of March this year.
The Ministerial Council of the CRFM is the arm of the CRFM which has primary responsibility for determining the policies of the organisation, resource allocation, cooperative agreements, and related decision-making.