BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Friday, 13 April 2018 (CRFM)—Once a year, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), an inter-governmental organization established to promote and facilitate the responsible use of the region's fisheries resources, convenes a meeting of heads of national fisheries authorities from its 17 Member States. This year, that group of the Caribbean technical experts who make up the Caribbean Fisheries Forum will meet for two days in Montserrat.
The CRFM will convene the 16th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum on Monday, 16 April and Tuesday, 17 April 2018 at the Montserrat Cultural Centre in Little Bay, Montserrat. International and regional partner organizations, observers and stakeholders from the fisheries and aquaculture sector have also been invited to the event, organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, Lands Housing and the Environment (MATHLE) in Montserrat.
Speakers at the opening ceremony will include Hon. David Osborne, Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment, and Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM. Ms. Avery Galbraith-Smikle (see photo), Director of the Aquaculture Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Jamaica, will also address the gathering.
Jamaica, which hosted last year’s meeting of the Fisheries Forum, will hand over the chairmanship of the Forum at the upcoming meeting. A vice chair and members of the CRFM’s Executive Committee will also be picked for the new programme year, which began at the start of this month.
Participants will receive an update on the progress of programmes, projects and activities being undertaken by the CRFM and prepare recommendations to be presented to the CRFM’s Ministerial Council when it meets on 18 May 2018 in Montserrat.
Among the areas listed for discussion by the Forum are management plans for key fisheries, co-management of fisheries involving stakeholders and government officials, cooperation with regional and international partners to improve management and sustainable use of marine resources; adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management in fisheries, and measures to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, among others.
The CRFM is overseeing the development of the regional protocol to integrate climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in fisheries and aquaculture into the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy. On Wednesday, 18 April, the CRFM will also convene a regional workshop to review the Draft Protocol, which it aims to have ready before the hurricane season starts on June 1.
BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Friday, 23 February 2018 (CRFM)—We know from the devastation wrought in the Caribbean last September by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, just how important it is for the region to step up its game in tackling climate change and the risks posed by natural disasters. The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has recently inked an agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that will put the region on better footing to address the impacts of disasters on fishing communities.
The CRFM—the CARICOM agency which works to promote sustainable development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector—is a regional partner on the Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector (CC4FISH) Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It is under this umbrella that the new initiative is being implemented for the benefit of the CARICOM States.
The CRFM is overseeing the development of the regional protocol to integrate climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in fisheries and aquaculture into the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy. The intent is to have the protocol ready before the start of the next hurricane season, which begins on June 1.
Leslie John Walling of Jamaica, a Coastal Resource Manager whose specializations include Coastal Resources Assessment and Management, Disaster Risk Reduction Planning, and Climate Change Adaptation Planning, has been engaged as a consultant to assist with the development of the new protocol. Mr. Walling will be consulting with government and non-government stakeholders in fisheries/aquaculture, climate change and disaster risk management, including the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), as he puts together the draft document.
The draft protocol will be presented for review and validation at a regional workshop slated for 18 April 2018 in Montserrat, on the heels of the 16th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the technical and advisory arm of the CRFM. After the technical experts from the member countries and partner agencies weigh in on the document, it will be refined then tabled at the May 2018 meeting of Caribbean ministers responsible for fisheries and aquaculture, the Ministerial Council of the CRFM, which sets policy for our region.
Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica last September. The fisheries sector suffered substantial losses as well.
The Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy, which was endorsed by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), in October 2014 lists, among its objectives, the development of a fisheries policy that integrates environmental, coastal and marine management considerations, in a way that safeguards fisheries and associated ecosystems from human-induced threats and to mitigate the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.
The policy calls for the development of protocols to build upon the policy and recognizes that those protocols would also be considered to be a part of the regional policy.
(Photographs provided by Fisheries Department, Dominica)
The CRFM Secretariat is inviting expressions of interest from suitably qualified persons to undertake a short term assignment to develop a regional protocol to integrate climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in fisheries and aquaculture into the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy. The Consultant will consult government and non-government stakeholders connected with fisheries/aquaculture, climate change and disaster risk management across the CARICOM countries and develop a draft Protocol for presentation, discussion and validation at a regional workshop on 18 April 2018 in Montserrat. The revised draft protocol must be submitted by 28 April 2018.
Expression of interest should be submitted to the CRFM Secretariat on or before 5.00 pm on Tuesday 13 February 2018.
The CRFM is developing a Model Disaster Preparedness and Risk Management Plan for the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector for CRFM Member States. This has emerged out of a necessity to have a framework that would advise regional partners on the measures to be taken in order to be better prepared, prevent and minimize loss, damage, destruction and death arising from hazards such as severe hydrometeorological events, tsunamis and oil spills. The Model Plan will enhance the Caribbean’s ability to manage all disasters at a regional and national level, with special emphasis on the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Wednesday, 24 January 2018 (CRFM)—Seven Caribbean countries are participating in a recently launched series of subprojects which the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) is leading under a sustainable management initiative for the flyingfish fishery.
In highlighting the importance of the initiative, CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said: “We in the region are utilizing a common space and common living marine resource; therefore, we need to cooperatively manage these common interests. One of these common interests is the flyingfish fishery, and the governance framework developed for the flyingfish fishery could be scaled up and applied to other fisheries in the region.”
The CRFM, the agency which provides fisheries-related advice and recommendations at the CARICOM level, initiated 6 sub-projects during 2017 to implement the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) for the management of the four-wing flyingfish in the Eastern Caribbean. This species of economic and cultural significance to our region is harvested by over 1,700 boats across the Eastern Caribbean countries and in Martinique.
The sub-projects are being implemented in the focal countries of Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Dominica, and Trinidad and Tobago, plus the French Overseas Territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe.
The sub-projects, intended to support the long-term sustainability of the flyingfish, are part of the project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) titled, Catalyzing Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of Shared Living Marine Resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (the CLME+ Project). The project aims to strengthen governance of the living marine resources by addressing habitat degradation, pollution, unsustainable fishing, inter-sectoral coordination, and management regimes for various fishery types, such as reef, continental shelf and pelagic fisheries.
The CRFM 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. The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) in Trinidad and Tobago and Nexus Coastal Resource Management (Nexus) in Halifax, Canada, are leading the remaining three sub-projects.
Blue Earth Consultants will work with stakeholders and officials in the focal countries at both technical and political levels until the subprojects conclude in mid-2019. The team is taking a participatory approach to gaining feedback and it will lead a consultative process to updating the Eastern Caribbean Flyingfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The FMP provides context and guidance for the management of the Eastern Caribbean region’s flyingfish fishery, developed through a process of extensive research, regional cooperation, collaboration, and stakeholder consultation. Endorsed for regional implementation in 2014, the plan was the first of its kind to have been sanctioned by the Ministerial Council of the CRFM, consistent with the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy.
Under this initiative, a sub-regional data policy will be developed to provide guidelines on how countries and Overseas Territories participating in the flyingfish fishery will collect and share data. The current status of flyingfish fishery data collection will be investigated and legal and drafting support will be provided by the consultants to develop template regulations for countries to implement. New recommendations will also be developed on vessel licensing arrangements and a census will be conducted on existing fishing vessels used to target the flyingfish.
The initiative will support improved cooperation between the 17 CRFM Member States and France on the management and conservation of shared living marine resources. Regional cooperation is vital to the sub-projects, given that flyingfish are a migratory species fished by six CRFM countries and the French Territories. Therefore, the project is developing a cooperation agreement for the CRFM States and France, based on stakeholder and expert inputs.
Throughout the course of the three sub-projects to be led by Blue Earth, information products will be developed and shared with stakeholders and the public to increase understanding of the flyingfish fishery and the sub-project outcomes.
The CLME+ Project was catalyzed by a US$12.5 million grant from the GEF, matched by government, multi-lateral and other funding for a total of more than US$146 million.
The CLME+ Project was catalyzed by a US$12.5 million grant from the GEF, matched by government, multi-lateral and other funding for a total of more than US$146 million.
BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Friday, 8 December 2017 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and its partners at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recently held a wrap-up meeting in St. Lucia at which the outcomes of the novel Caribbean Fisheries Co-Management Project (CARIFICO) were unveiled. The most important benefits underscored are better catches and improved incomes for fishers who began using Fish Aggregating Devices or FADs. These were designed, constructed, deployed and managed in a cooperative manner by the fishers themselves in collaboration with government officials and with support from the Japanese experts.
Fishers from the pilot countries attended the meeting in St. Lucia and shared how the project has positively impacted them. Fisheries officials from the CARICOM countries, except for Bahamas and Belize, also attended. International partners from JICA, fisheries experts deployed in the region and officials from JICA headquarters in Japan, as well as representatives from the Embassy of Japan in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisation, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the University of Florida were also present.
CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton said that he is impressed with the progress made in introducing co-management approaches in specific fisheries, as well as the level of investment of fishers in the process. Fishers have formed new fisherfolk organizations which are actively participating in the development and management of the target fisheries as a result of the CARIFICO project. Through the project, Governments in the 6 pilot countries are sharing more authority and responsibility for fisheries development and management with stakeholders by improving relations and communications, and promoting increased participation by them in decision-making in fisheries.
“They have seen significant social and economic benefits from working together and operating around the FADs. The fishers have been involved in the construction and deployment of the fishing gear, as well as developing rules to regulate activities around the FADs and collecting and fisheries data. This is a tangible example of what fishers can achieve by collaborating with each other and with the government,” Haughton said.
The Project Manager of the pilot project in Grenada, Mr. Toby Francis Calliste, said that they have learned a lot from the CARIFICO project. He noted that the fishing communities of Grenada have realized tremendous benefits through the co-management arrangement. The CARIFICO project has transformed the fishing industry in Grenville and by extension in Grenada, said Calliste, who presented on the impacts of the project in Grenada.
Dominican representatives said that fishers in that country embrace the important benefits of the FAD program. They add that the Roseau Complex fishers now exercise greater compliance with FAD management practices. They hope that with the sustained deployment of public FADs, user conflict will be reduced.
The CARIFICO-CRFM Joint Statement on Fisheries Co-Management, which is to be tabled at the April 2018 meeting of Fisheries Ministers from CRFM Member States, envisions the way forward. It addresses four areas: Support for Implementation of Co-management; Training in Support of Co-management; Co-management to Address Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management; and Public Education and Awareness.
The statement is intended to solidify the support of CRFM Member States for the implementation of the recommendations of the CARIFICO Project and the advancement of co-management, as well as improved fisheries governance in the Caribbean. This should include legal and institutional reforms, training and capacity development, public education and awareness building, and empowerment of fishers’ organizations and fishing communities.
Over US$2 billion to aid recovery after Hurricanes Irma and Maria
Belize City, 28 November 2017—Hurricanes Maria and Irma have left a wide swath of devastation through the Caribbean, underscoring the need for greater attention to be given to climate change and disaster risk management. The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism was among the agencies present at the UN Headquarters in New York for a recent high-level meeting called by the United Nations and CARICOM to attack this challenge head-on.
Dubbed the “CARICOM-UN High-level Pledging Conference: Building a more Climate-Resilient Community,” the event resulted in over US$2 million in pledges to respond to the urgent needs the countries and to offset an estimated US$5 million in recovery costs.
According to information released by the CARICOM Secretariat, the pledges (in US dollars) are as follows: $702 million from The Netherlands, $352 million from the European Union, $140 million from the World Bank, $ 78 million from Canada, $30million from China, $27 million from Mexico, $12 million from Italy, $4.3 million from the United States, $4 million from Japan, $1 million from Kuwait, $2 million from India, $1 million from Venezuela, $1.2 million from Belgium, $1 million from Chile, $500,000 from Denmark, $300,000 from Colombia, $250,000 from Haiti, US$ 250,000 from New Zealand, $200,000 from Brazil, $150,000 from Kazakhstan, $100,000 from Romania, $100,000 from Portugal, and $20,000 from Serbia.
The Inter-American Development Bank pledged U$1 billion in loans, while Italy pledged $30 million in soft loans and Venezuela forgave $1 million in debt for a more resilient Caribbean.
CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton participated in the technical meeting for the conference held on Monday, 20 November. Meanwhile, Caribbean leaders participated in the ministerial meeting convened on Tuesday, 21 November.
Over 400 attended the high-level meeting organized by CARICOM and the US
CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said at the conference which was attended by over 400 high-level representatives of government, private sector, civil society and multilateral agencies that, “the task of rebuilding is beyond us. We cannot do it alone. We need your help.”
He urged that the same collaboration and generosity which marked the relief efforts should continue as the countries go forward to build a resilient Caribbean.
Speaking specifically on the plight of the fisheries sector in affected member states, the CRFM Executive Director underscored the vulnerability of fisheries communities, noting that they have sustained extensive damage and loss throughout the production and distribution chain as a result of the recent hurricanes.
According to Haughton, preliminary damage estimates for Dominica’s fisheries sector stood at roughly US$3 million. The initial assessment for Antigua and Barbuda stood at just over US$316,000. These numbers figures reflect damages mostly to fishing boats and equipment, as well as infrastructure vital to the sector.
The CRFM Executive Director explained that these figures do not include damage to marine ecosystems and habitats (coral reefs, mangroves etc.) or impacts on the fish stocks themselves
Haughton stressed that many fishing communities already subsist in precarious and vulnerable conditions because of poverty and rural underdevelopment, and he underscored the need for adaptations to secure a more resilient future for them.
The widespread use of information technology in establishing early warning systems to share weather information, as well as to share market information, is one form of adaptation.
One important strategy is to spread and reduce risks through the diversification of livelihoods and the provision of risk insurance.
Haughton detailed the Caribbean Ocean Assets Sustainability FaciliTy (COAST), which is a parametric insurance facility designed to incentivize investments in preventative measures that promote both sustainable fish production and adaptation to climate change. It also helps Caribbean States to incorporate climate-smart food security best practices during reconstruction of coastal assets after extreme weather events.
He said that the objective is to provide incentives for the fisheries sector to use climate-smart food security best practices within the region to simultaneously improve food security and coastal resilience in the face of a changing climate.
Over the past 30 years, storms, hurricanes and flooding associated with climate change and climate variability have had devastating impacts on Caribbean people, their property and livelihoods, and on the social and economic development of our region.
As noted in a recent public address delivered by Milton Haughton, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), "Fishers and fishing communities, in coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters especially the storms and hurricanes during the hurricane season each year."
The hurricane season opened last month and will run through to November, and fishers and fishing communities, in coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters especially the storms and hurricanes duringthis time of the year.
It is in this context that Haughton highlighted an initiative to reduce risk to the fisheries sector in the Caribbean. This is the provision of Risk Insurance for fishers.
On the occasion of Fisherfolk Day, 2017, Haughton detailed the initiative as follows:
"Since 2015, United States Department of State has been partnering with the World Bank, CRFM, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), CNFO, and others to develop a parametric insurance product to be implemented by Caribbean governments to promote the resilience of their fisheries sector against the peril of increasing climate-change related disaster risk," he explained.
According to the CRFM Executive Director, the insurance policy would be structured in a way to provide incentive for governments to promote and implement international best practices in fisheries management and a disaster risk management, but before they purchase the policy, countries would be evaluated to determine how well they are doing in implementing these best practices.
"For example, Countries with good fisheries management systems and disaster risk management plans in place for the fisheries sector would pay lower premiums and receive higher payouts if there is a disaster. Payouts would be made by the insurance facility when the agreed trigger event has occurred," he explained, adding that funds would be used to help with the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the fisheries sector.
"The CCRIF is also in the process of developing a micro-insurance policy for low income persons in the fisheries in the region. This is called the Livelihood Protection Policy (LPP)--designed to protect low-income people against extreme weather risks," Haughton said.
This policy, he explained, will be available through existing insurers.
"The LPP is being customized for small-scale fishers and small aquaculture operators in the region with the intention to cover losses to livelihoods caused by storms, heavy rainfall, high winds and other climate related variables. The policy will provide quick payouts to enable fishers and fish farmers to recover more quickly after a damaging event," Haughton announced.
Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Milton Haughton, was the keynote speaker on Thursday, June 29, at the awards ceremony for outstanding fishers in Belize.
The event was organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society along with the CRFM and other NGO partners and the Belize Fisheries Department, as the climax to a month-long observance in celebration of fisherfolk in Belize.
The outstanding fishers were LeoBihildo Tamai – Fisher of the Year for 2017, a career fisher of 30 years who lives in Sarteneja Village in Corozal, northern Belize; Dale Fairweather – a deep sea and lobster fisher of southern Belize; and Eleodoro Martinez, Jr., a fisher of Chunux, also located in Corozal.
“Fisherfolk and fisheries have always been a very important part of Caribbean culture, social life and economies,” Haughton said.
He added that not only do the fisheries produce provide very important sources of food and nutrition; but the sector is also an important source of foreign exchange earnings, employment and livelihood opportunities, particularly for the poor and vulnerable members of society.
“But the livelihoods of fishers, the safety of their communities in the coastal areas, and continued enjoyment of the benefits from the seas and oceans are threatened by climate change, sea level rise, and ocean acidification, among many other challenges,” the CRFM Executive Director said.
For this reason, he added, the theme selected by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation for fisherfolk day 2017 is “Fisheries: contributing to food security in a changing climate.”
“The future we want in the Caribbean is one where fisheries are sustainable, resilient and productive, and are used in a way that promotes economic growth, food security and health, and the prosperity of our people now and in the future,” he asserted, adding that in order to realize the envisioned future, more importance needs to be given to evidence-based decision-making, in order to improve our understanding of the impacts of climate change. This would, in turn, help the region develop adaptation strategies to protect our communities and natural resources.
He warned, though, that, “Lack of appropriate action on climate change today will certainly undermine the achievement of this vision and make the world our children inherit a much more unproductive, insecure and difficult place than we are living in today.”
The region is also grappling with emerging challenges which confront the sector, including the more recent phenomenon of massive quantities of sargassum seaweed in the coastal water.
Haughton said that the sargassum seaweed is returning, and reports are that it is already affecting the Eastern Caribbean.
The first ever Caribbean Marine Climate Change Report Card is now public.
According to the document, "Caribbean fishing is highly vulnerable to climate change, especially those in the Greater and Lesser Antilles. Caribbean fisheries are under threat due to changes in ocean currents and fish distribution, and loss of marine habitats. Coastal erosion is also compromising important fish landing beach sites and increasing intensity of storms together with increased sea level causes damage to fish habitats, fishery access and assets."
Read the full 2017 Report Card in this post or download a copy via the link below.