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.
Belize City, Wednesday, 29 March 2017 (CRFM)—Heads of national fisheries authorities from 17 Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will be meeting with observers and partner agencies in Jamaica near the end of this week, for the 15th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the primary technical deliberative body of the CRFM, for talks on the status of and recent trends in the fisheries and aquaculture in the region and plans for the future to strengthen the sector.
Ahead of the opening the hurricane season in June, the Forum meeting—slated for Thursday, 30 March, and Friday, 31 March, at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston, Jamaica—will also address measures for adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management in fisheries.
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said: “Climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification and disaster risk management are major challenges facing the fisheries sector and the wider economies of our countries. These issues continue to be high priorities for policy-makers and stakeholders because we need to improve capacity, information base and policy, and institutional arrangements to respond to these threats and protect our future. At this meeting, we will be discussing the USA sponsored initiative to provide risk insurance for fishers, among other initiatives to improve and protect the fisheries sector and ensure food security.”
The Forum will also discuss steps to strengthen cooperation and coordination between fisheries and environment departments, as well as partner organizations, in order to strengthen the conservation of marine species and critical habitats to achieve international biodiversity targets.
Haughton notes that, “Working together to improve the health of the marine environment and protection of vulnerable marine species while improving sanitary and phyto-sanitary systems and quality of fish and seafood, will produce tangible social and economic benefits for fishers and fishing communities. It is time for stakeholders in the fisheries and environment sectors to start working in a more cooperative and constructive manner to address common challenges.”
The Forum will be updated on the progress of technical activities being undertaken by the CRFM, its Secretariat, Member States and network partners, after which it will prepare recommendations on the way forward to be tabled when Ministers responsible for fisheries meet on 19 May in Guyana.
Outgoing chairman, Denzil Roberts, Chief Fisheries Officer of Guyana, will demit office after his 12-month tenure. Participants in the upcoming Fisheries Forum will elect a new chair, vice-chair and executive committee members, who will serve for the programme year, 2017-2018.
The CRFM Secretariat is seeking a qualified candidate for the post of Programme Manager, Research and Resource Assessment with the CRFM Secretariat. Please see attached Job and Position Description with details about the post.
Applications are invited from suitably qualified nationals and legal residents of CARICOM/CRFM Member States and Associate Members.
Applications in English Language with full Curriculum Vitae should reach the CRFM Secretariat no later than 28 April 2017.
Belize City, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Government of Norway have launched a two-week mission to explore the development of a regional technical assistance project to be funded by Norway. The project would support the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector by strengthening evidence-based management.
Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; and Dr. Johán Williams, Specialist Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, began meeting on Monday, January 16, with CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton at the CRFM Secretariat in Belize City, after which the team embarked in a two-week dialogue with 7 CRFM Members States, beginning with senior government officials in Belize.
This regional fact-finding mission is being undertaken within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Cooperation between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Governments of the Nordic Countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, signed by the parties on 20 September 2016 in New York, USA. That MoU identified fisheries as one of the priority areas of cooperation, along with environment, climate change, renewable energy, gender equality, tourism, education, child protection and welfare, and information technology.
"Norway is a powerhouse in fisheries, globally,” Haughton said. “They have excellent systems for research, data collection, resource management, and making decisions based on science; and we need to move more in that direction—strengthening our systems to be able to make better decisions regarding fisheries conservation and management, as well as fisheries development on the basis of good scientific data and information.”
Haughton added that: “We are interested in drawing on the Norwegian knowledge, expertise and technology in various aspects of fisheries and aquaculture, in building our own capacities in CARICOM in fisheries research, statistics, resource management, aquaculture (particularly mariculture), fish processing, value addition, marketing and international trade.”
Principally, the engagement between Norway and the CRFM Member States will focus of building human resource capacity, institutional capacity, and the accuracy and volume of fisheries data and information, with an emphasis on pursuing the ecosystems approach to fisheries development and management.
While in Belize, Høines and Williams had a chance to dialogue with H.E. Daniel Guiterrez, Belize’s Ambassador to CARICOM; Hon. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Climate Change, as well as Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade.
After leaving Belize on Tuesday, the team, joined by CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton, travels to Haiti for similar dialogue, as they consult with stakeholders in the field to better define their interests. Next, the team will travel to Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and The Bahamas. While in Guyana, they will meet both with fisheries officials there and officials of the CARICOM Secretariat. The technical mission concludes near the end of January.
Haughton noted that for more than 60 years, Norway has been supporting fisheries research surveys in developing countries using the marine research vessel, Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, outfitted with high-level modern technology in marine resource survey. Those vessels have been dispatched in Africa and other parts of the developing world. It is the CRFM’s hope that during the latter half of the proposed project, for the period 2019-2020, the research vessel would be deployed in the Caribbean to conduct surveys to broaden the region’s understanding of the state of its fisheries resources and marine environment. The CRFM also intends to collaborate in this endeavor with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/ Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission, which is already committed to assisting the region in buildings its fisheries knowledge base.
Belize City, Friday, 13 January 2017 (CRFM)—Through the long-standing partnership between the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the United Nations University Fisheries Technical Programme (UNU-FTP) in Iceland, the University has deployed one of Iceland’s top fisheries data experts to the CRFM Secretariat for a short site-based assignment, to provide operational support and guidance at the country level for improving the management and usage of fisheries data systems.
The visiting expert is Dr. Einar Hjörleifsson, who has been working at the Marine Research Institute, Iceland, since 1996. Dr. Hjörleifsson’s primary role has been data analysis and stock assessment. Over the same time, he has been working at the UNU-FTP in a role as a teacher and student supervisor. During his visit to the Caribbean, Dr. Hjörleifsson will be working under the guidance of CRFM’s Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Susan Singh-Renton.
Dr. Singh-Renton emphasized that, “Dr. Hjörleifsson’s present assignment with the CRFM is intended to allow him to give special ‘on-the-ground’ attention to all aspects of the fisheries data systems in two CRFM countries that have made reasonable investments both for the present and the future of their data systems. Hence, the assignment is expected to build further on such investments.”
CRFM’s Statistics and Information Analyst, June Masters, who will also be working closely with Dr. Hjörleifsson, expects that, “The countries involved will get the opportunity to critically examine their respective fisheries data collection system and make improvements where possible.”
Fortunately, Dr. Hjörleifsson has worked with the CRFM on previous occasions on behalf of the UNU-FTP, to deliver training in statistics and stock assessment to CRFM fisheries professionals, and so he is no stranger to the data challenges in the CRFM countries.
As he began his assignment this week with gathering information on the status of data systems and their usage in the CRFM region, and holding discussions with key informants both at the national and regional levels, Dr. Hjörleifsson indicated that his first aim would be to “enhance skills and increase efficiency in fisheries data analysis and report writing.”
While efforts to improve data management have been sustained over the years through various regional initiatives and also since the founding of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) in 2002, data management remains a significant stumbling block for advancing fisheries management goals within the region and globally. Hence, CRFM very much welcomes the present visit by Dr. Hjörleifsson, which will help CRFM States to take a fresh look at an old problem!
Belize City, Belize, Monday, 21 November 2016 (CRFM)—The coming of the digital age presents novel opportunities for the fisheries and aquaculture sector of the wider Caribbean to build a more robust data and information system that would augment the monitoring of production trends and traceability of catches, support more sustainable management regimes through increased people engagement, and facilitate stronger international and regional trade.
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are teaming up to capitalize on opportunities for Member States to strengthen data collection and management systems through the use of modern technology, such as smartphones and wireless communications to bridge gaps in the system.
“Strengthening our fisheries data and information management systems is extremely important going forward. It is necessary in order to improve resource conservation and management and also improve the socio-economic benefits from the fisheries. It will help in improving income and revenue from the fisheries and strengthen the countries’ capacity to participate in international trade,” said CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton.
Haughton said that “…our decisions really need to be based on good knowledge of the resource systems—both in terms of the state of the targeted fish stocks and the marine environment, as well as the activities on land after the fish is taken; that is, activities in the processing and marketing sectors. We really need to have accurate data and information to understand what is happening and to make informed decisions about what is happening in the sector.” Unless traceability is established through enhanced data and information systems, it will become increasingly hard for countries in our region to trade internationally, he said.
Haughton highlighted these challenges in his recent discussions with Marc Taconet, Chief of the Statistics and Information Branch of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Economics Division at the FAO in Rome.
Taconet was on a working visit at the headquarters of the CRFM in Belize City, Belize, last week. He and Haughton talked about strengthening CRFM-FAO cooperation, and they collaborated on a concept note for cooperation in improving data and information systems across CRFM Member States for fisheries and aquaculture. A planning meeting is tentatively slated for February/March 2017.
“There are innovative technologies such as the use of mobile phones, tablets, and remote inputs; and the co-involvement of fish workers is necessary to be set up. This is one of the needs that were strongly expressed,” said Taconet, in speaking of wider discussions with fisheries experts from the Caribbean.
He said that one gap is the lack of an integrated software system—an issue that was raised when he paid a courtesy call on counterparts of the Belize Fisheries Department, located on the same premises as the CRFM.
According to Taconet, the timeline to reach ‘cruise speed,’ with an upgraded data and information system is two to three years.
The CRFM and the FAO are currently sourcing funds to undertake this new joint initiative, which furthers a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed this January between the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)/Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (FAO-WECAFC), the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, and the Organisation of the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector (OSPESCA), in Cartagena, Colombia, to facilitate, support and strengthen the coordination of actions to increase the sustainability of fisheries.
Grand Cayman, Thursday, 27 October 2016 (CRFM)—The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the top policy and decision-making arm of the CARICOM agency, is meeting today in Grand Cayman for its 6th Special Meeting. The meeting is being held as part of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which is being hosted in Cayman under the theme, “Investing in Food and Agriculture.”
High on the Ministerial Council’s agenda are plans to develop marine capture fisheries and aquaculture across the Caribbean, with the aim of reducing the region’s US$4 billion food import bill, while building a Caribbean seafood cuisine brand that the region and the world can embrace as a safe and healthy choice.
The 17-member Council is meeting at The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa for a three-hour session, to advance proposed legislation and guidelines which will support an enabling environment for a harmonized regime of food safety.
At the Ministerial Council’s recent meeting in Jamaica, chairman Karl Samuda, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries of Jamaica, urged the region to explore the untapped market of open-sea fish and aquaculture and to lock in a bigger share of the US$136-billion global industry.
Chair of Ministerial Council: Hon. Karl Samuda, CD, MP; Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries, Jamaica (Official photo)
Today, the fisheries ministers are looking at strategic interventions which the region can make to develop the full potential of its marine capture fisheries and aquaculture, in line with the current push towards the Blue Economy and Blue Growth, which aims to maximize benefits from the region’s expansive maritime spaces.
With the recent battering of some CARICOM countries by hurricanes and storms during this hurricane season, the need for the region to establish better mechanisms to provide risk insurance for fishers is also a high priority. The Council is reviewing the progress made towards the activation of the Caribbean Ocean Assets Sustainability Facility (COAST), which includes a risk insurance facility for fishers.
The Caribbean Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) is developing a new sovereign parametric policy for the fisheries sector, and a micro-insurance policy for small-scale fishers based on the template for the existing Livelihood Protection Policy (LPP) that targets farmers and labourers. Fishers will soon be able to purchase the policy and obtain quick payouts when they experience losses due to storms, heavy rainfall, high winds and other climate related variables.
The CRFM Ministerial Council is also discussing a model protocol for responding to the influx of sargassum seaweed that has been affecting fisheries, coastal and marine ecosystems and other economic activities in the waters of Caribbean countries. The initiative by the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO/WECAFC) to establish a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation in the Wider Caribbean Region and a proposal by South Korea for the establishment of a World Fisheries University are also being considered by the Ministerial Council.
The meeting of the Council precedes the 62nd Special Meeting of CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), scheduled for Friday. The CRFM—which is represented at the meetings in Cayman by Executive Director Milton Haughton—has lead responsibility for the development of the marine fisheries and aquaculture industries, highlighted by COTED as priority commodities.
Belize City, Friday, 23 September 2016 (CRFM)—Fifteen fisheries personnel, including senior fisheries officers, fisheries officers, analysts and policy officers, traveled to Australia this week to participate in a specialized training course on “Enhancing Fisheries Management Capacity in the Caribbean Region.”
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) partnered in developing the 4-week course, to strengthen the region’s capacity in fisheries law and fisheries management.
More specifically, the training—which is being held at the Innovation Centre at ANCORS, University of Wollongong, ranked among Australia’s top 10 universities—is intended to address the conservation and protection of living marine resources and biodiversity; monitoring and surveillance; as well as measures to curb illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
“This is a great training opportunity for CRFM Member States, and we are grateful for the valued contributions which Australia continues to make to help advance fisheries management and development across the CARICOM region. The CRFM appreciates this sustained support,” said Milton Haughton, CRFM Executive Director.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Australian Government institution which is funding the training, awarded Australian Awards Fellowship to nominees who were selected from 10 CRFM Member States.
It is expected that when the training concludes on October 15, they will partner with relevant stakeholders to help improve frameworks and cooperative agreements at home and across the wider Caribbean, to achieve sustainable fisheries, which would, in turn, mean more dollars for the fishing industry and improved socio-economic conditions in beneficiary states.
This training builds on two previous training workshops, successfully held in Australia in 2012 and 2014. It helps to fulfill a Memorandum of Understanding which the CRFM and ANCORS signed back in 2012.
Belize City, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 (CRFM)--Fisheries experts from across the Caribbean region are traveling to Guyana this week for the 14th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum -- the primary technical deliberative body of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). The Forum will be meeting in Georgetown on Thursday, 7 April and Friday, 8 April to undertake its annual stocktaking and planning for the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
The event will bring together more than 50 participants, including directors of fisheries, chief fisheries officers, and other development partners, such as NGOs and international organizations like the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which work with the CRFM in promoting the development, management and conservation of the Caribbean’s fisheries resources.
Justin Rennie, Chief Fisheries Officer of Grenada, will demit chairmanship of the Forum to Denzil Roberts, Chief Fisheries Officer of Guyana, for the 12-month period spanning the new program year which commenced on 1 April. A new vice chairman will also be selected.
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, highlighted the most pressing issues on the agenda: “We’re discussing a lot of emerging issues in the region. We are looking at how to improve conservation and management of key species, apply and use the value chain approach in order to increase benefits, such as increased income and export potential. We are discussing sanitary and phytosanitary capacity as a part of our overall strategy to strengthen our trade capacity, so that we can indeed export more to key international markets and also to provide greater quality and safety in terms of the fish and seafood that we provide for our people as well as our guests and tourists coming into the region.”
Haughton added that the 17 CRFM Member States are also looking at ways to strengthen the linkage between fisheries and tourism, “because the tourism sector is a huge sector and we believe we have a golden opportunity to enhance the linkages between fisheries and tourism to derive more benefits—more income, more employment opportunities—for our fishers and their communities.”
The Forum will also review the region’s progress in implementing the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP), as well as initiatives to strengthen research, and institutional and human capacity through the CRFM’s collaboration with a number of development partners such as the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Florida in the USA, the International Ocean Institute, Dalhousie University, Canada; the University of Wollongong in Australia, and the United Nations University in Iceland.
This collaboration is vital in ensuring that CRFM Member States are equipped with the human and institutional capacity needed to tackle the increasing challenges of sustainable development that confront them—challenges which are being exacerbated by climate change.
One such challenge is the emergence of the Sargassum seaweed on the region’s beaches and in the coastal waters.
“Last year and 2011 we had massive influx of Sargassum seaweed on our beaches that affected our fisheries. So we are putting in place measures to deal with the Sargassum seaweed should it return in the future—we hope it won’t, but just in case it does—and from all indications, we are expecting to have more of this seaweed coming on our shores and in our coastal waters,” Haughton said.
Haughton said that associated with the Sargassum seaweed are large numbers of juvenile dolphinfish (locally known as mahimahi)—which is a very important target species in the Eastern Caribbean.
“Our fishermen, of course, once they see these in large quantities, even though they are juveniles, they will catch them. So we are promoting the implementation of emergency, precautionary management measures; that is, minimum size limits for the dolphinfish fishery,” Haughton said.
Aquaculture is also big on the agenda, and the Forum will discuss a new 5-year aquaculture action plan, which they will be asked to endorse. Since land mass is limited in our region, non-conventional aquaculture schemes are being promoted and explored.
“Aquaponics is something that has been growing in the region—this is growing fish and vegetables together in a limited area using re-circulating water systems. This is more suitable for the smaller islands, like Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados,” Haughton explained.
On the second day of the meeting, the Forum members will discuss a proposal from the United States to support fishers through a risk insurance facility, Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), which will be handling the technical details for the development of the policy. Under this regime, CRFM Member States will make contributions to the scheme in addition to the initial contribution of the USA.
The Caribbean Fisheries Forum will conclude its meeting with recommendations to be submitted at the next meeting of the CRFM’s Ministerial Council—the chief policy making body on fisheries in the Caribbean Region.