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Delegates from CRFM Member States and CRFM Secretariat staff at the Thirteenth Regular Meeting of the Ministerial Council SM

Delegates from CRFM Member States and CRFM Secretariat staff at theThirteenth Reguar Meeting of the Ministerial Council

 

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Tuesday, 18 June 2019 (CRFM)—Caribbean Fisheries Ministers who met for two days last week in Saint Kitts and Nevis have underscored the need for the region to take urgent action to address the ongoing Sargassum scourge, as well as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing—two of the most pressing challenges responsible for multimillion-dollar losses to the regional economy.

 

Honourable Eugene Hamilton, Minister of Agriculture, Health, National Health Insurance, Human Settlements, Community Development, Gender Affairs, Social Services, Land and Cooperatives, of Saint Kitts and Nevis, delivered the feature address at the official ceremony of the 13th Regular Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), opened on Thursday, 13 June 2019 at the Marriott Resort in Frigate Bay, Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Honourable Eugene Hamilton of Saint Kitts elected as chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council Cropped

I applaud all of our efforts as Member States, as we continually stress the need to establish sustainable small-scale fisheries; as we institute mechanisms for fisheries co-management; and as we promote mitigation and adaptation measures as climate change and disaster risk management responses,” Minister Hamilton said.

 

Later on during the proceedings, Minister Hamilton assumed chairmanship of the Council from Montserrat’s Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment, Honourable David Osborne. St. Lucia was elected as vice chair.

 

Speaking on behalf of Minister Osborne, Mrs. Eulyn Silcott-Greaves, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment, of Montserrat, charged the Council to “be mindful of the challenges and complexities that we are called to mitigate—if not fully remedy—such as climate change and the increasing demand on the fisheries, aquaculture and oceans systems for goods and services.”


Honourable Eugene Hamilton of Saint Kitts and Nevis elected as chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council  (left)

 

In his remarks to the Council, Mr. Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM, said: “We are establishing a solid foundation and a strong regional policy framework within the context of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy that should guide our actions over the next 10 to 20 years in achieving our developmental objectives in fisheries and aquaculture.” Haughton added that it is only through joint efforts that the region can resolve problems such as those associated with climate change, IUU fishing, and the Sargassum inundation.

 

Sargassum inundation -- seen here in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines -- continues to affect countries across the Caribbean

Sargassum inundation -- seen here in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines -- continues to impact countries across the Caribbean

 

During Council deliberations on the Sargassum problem, Grenada’s Minister of Fisheries, Hon. Alvin Dabreo, emphasized the need for immediate measures to curb the impacts. The meeting agreed that urgent action is needed on multiple fronts to address the problem, and highlighted the need for support from international development partners.

 

In relation to IUU fishing, Hon. Floyd Green, Jamaica’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, spoke of the problems that Jamaica has recently been facing due to IUU fishing by vessels from countries such as Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Jamaica has had to extend the close-season for the Queen Conch fishery indefinitely, due to the adverse effects of IUU fishing on stock abundance.

 

The Ministerial Council “[affirmed that] IUU fishing is a major problem affecting Queen Conch fisheries in the region and highlighted the need to more aggressively pursue national and regionally coordinated action to combat IUU fishing and protect the fisheries resources, including direct engagement with the flag States of the IUU vessels and the market States where the IUU catches are exported.”

 

It furthermore endorsed the collective regional efforts to engage both the market States where IUU fish is sold and the IUU fishing nations for conch, lobster and other high-value species.

 

The Ministers considered scientific advice and recommendations from the 17th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, held in March in Saint Kitts and Nevis. This included measures to improve the resilience of fishing communities and marine ecosystems to climate change, as well as actions being taken to improve adaptation and disaster risk response. Furthermore, it deliberated upon actions needed to improve the conservation and management of fisheries resources and ecosystems; strengthen systems for evidence-based decision making; promote the blue economy; and strengthen partnerships with development partners and donors.

 

Before the Council Meeting, the CRFM convened the 3rd Meeting of the Ministerial Sub-Committee on the Flyingfish Fishery in the Eastern Caribbean. During that meeting, chaired by Hon. Ezekiel Joseph, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives, of Saint Lucia, the members noted that a significant amount of work in support of conservation and management of the Eastern Caribbean Flyingfish Fishery had been done through the CLME+ Flyingfish Sub-project. The Council also signaled its support for the finalization of the Sub-Regional Fisheries Management Plan for Flyingfish in the Eastern Caribbean, 2020-2025.

Published in Press release

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

 

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

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

CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton

CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton

 

 

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

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

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

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

Minister Holder completes tenure

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Press release

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