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Belize City, Saturday, 2 October 2021 (CRFM)—Ministers responsible for Fisheries from Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) are scheduled to meet on Monday, 4 October 2021, during the 16th observance of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the new strategic direction for the fisheries and aquaculture sector, which produced fish with an estimated ex-vessel value of US$480 million in 2020, despite the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CRFM, an institution of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), will convene the meeting to advance a new strategic 9-year direction for the organization, which also considers the emerging realities being brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the growing challenges facing the sector due to climate change and its adverse impacts.

Ministers from CRFM Member States will be asked to approve the Third CRFM Strategic Plan for the period January 2022 to December 2030, as well as the complementary CRFM Resource Mobilization Strategy, which takes on a results-based approach to mobilizing much needed resources for the organization and its 17 Member States and partner organisations in the region.

 

Caribbean processing facilities aim to achieve international standards

Caribbean processing facilities aim to achieve international standards (Photo: CRFM)

 

The CRFM’s Plan addresses improved evidence-based decision making, conservation and management of the fisheries and protection of marine ecosystems, climate change and disaster risk management, and the expansion of sustainable aquaculture, including mariculture. It also promotes programmes aimed at improving the welfare and socio-economic situation of fishers and fishing communities in the region, by focusing on value addition and wealth creation, capacity building, use of technology, entrepreneurship, partnership ventures with private and public sector parties, and strengthening application of good governance principles, such as equity and equality, inclusiveness, and accountability.

Furthermore, the Ministers will be asked to review and approve a policy document supporting the drafting and approval of the Model Fisheries Legislation on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures. The Draft Model Aquatic Animal Health Bill and the Draft Model Aquatic Food Safety Regulations, developed under the EU-funded 10th Economic Development Fund (EDF) Programme, are aimed at assuring safety and quality of fish and seafood available for domestic as well as export markets, in line with international standards, while maximizing economic gains for the sector.

Published in Press release

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 16 December 2016 (CRFM)— There is still a long way to go but experts meeting here Thursday expressed optimism that slow but steady progress was being made toward introducing region-wide laws, rules and regulations intended to make Caribbean fish and seafood not only ready for world trade but safe for Caribbean tables.

The experts, drawn from fisheries, legal affairs, food health and safety and standards agencies across ten countries in the Caribbean Forum of ACP States (CARIFORUM), ended two days of deliberations on model legislation, protocols and guidelines for health and food safety related to fisheries and aquaculture.

“Still a long way to go but making progress,” said Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Milton Haughton at the workshop at the Accra Beach Hotel.

Milton Haughton-sps2-141216

Haughton said that following the workshop the draft model legislation is to be reviewed, and followed by another round of consultations held with stakeholders and a legal team before it can be finalised and submitted to regional policy-makers for consideration.

While not offering a timeline for the implementation of the legislation he stressed that improved standards and systems for sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) in fisheries are critical to the region socially and economically.

"We will reap good economic benefits when we have stronger systems that will assure, just not the safety but the quality of the products that we want to export. We will be able to access markets, international markets that we are not now able to access ," Haughton said.

The CRFM said the region’s export trade in fish and seafood trade earns about 315 million US dollars annually – a business that could boom or bust depending on how the region meets the global challenge of SPS standards.

British legal expert Chris Hedley, the project’s lead consultant, said the greatest challenge in drafting the legislation was making it nimble enough to adapt to rules and regulations which are frequently changing in the European Union.

Chris Hedley 12142016

Hedley cautioned that the United Kingdom following Brexit may soon be introducing its own standards as well.

"It is about trying to identify what things change all the time and try to make sure there is a flexible methodology as it were for updating those and making sure we make it as user friendly as possible for the government trying to implement these rules," Hedley said.

After final consultation and approval by the Belize-based CRFM, the region’s fisheries agency, the model laws and policies will then be recommended to CARICOM’s Council for Trade Economic Development (COTED), the regional bloc’s forum of trade ministers, as well as other CARICOM bodies.

The model fisheries and aquaculture SPS legislation would have to be enacted in each exporting nation. During the 18-month-old project, the model legislation has been developed in consultation with policymakers, fisherfolk, processors and other industry players.

Experts said the countdown is on towards the end of voluntary compliance with EU food safety standards, considered among the toughest in the world. Failure to meet EU standards would block CARIFORUM countries from tapping into niche markets overseas and boosting foreign exchange earnings, they stressed.

Investigations by the consultants on the project have exposed large gaps in legally binding protocols managing food safety throughout the region.

The experts found barriers to trade of fish and fisheries products due to inadequate SPS standards; minimal legislative standards for aquaculture; concern about food security and decreasing use of local, fresh seafood – the solution for which improved SPS support is an essential component, the CRFM said.

The two-day meeting was the high point 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 Belize-based 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). The project is financed under the EU’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project.

 

Published in Press release

 

Food safety hazards, best practices in fish inspection, controls in aquaculture, traceability and modern approaches to laboratory testing and accreditation were the key areas covered

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Friday, 16 December 2016 (CRFM)—A two-week training covering “Food safety in the fishery sector” and “Fishery products laboratory testing” was delivered to 30 inspector and laboratory analysts from 15 CARIFORUM countries during the period 28 November to 9 December 2016, by four international experts.

The training, which covered inspection, control and testing in the fishery sector, was based on eight operational manuals developed under a project funded by the European Union (EU). The training was organized by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).

Food safety hazards, best international practices in fish inspection at each stage of the supply chain, controls in aquaculture, and traceability as well as modern approaches to laboratory testing and accreditation were among the key areas addressed. Particular attention was paid to explaining the sanitary requirements for exporting fishery and aquaculture products to the EU and markets in other developed countries. Practical work helped the participants to understand the role of rapid and field testing, to enable better decision-making on the safety of fishery products.

IMG 4740

After the course, rapid testing equipment was donated to participants to use in their home countries, and modern histamine testing equipment for assessing the safety of products such as tunas, was also donated to the Fisheries Department of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

Participants were drawn from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. Representatives from the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), based in Paramaribo, Suriname, also attended. The training was highly appreciated by all the participants.

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“This course will allow the streamlining of our laboratory testing capabilities and has provided a better understanding of what the EU wants,” said Avis O'Reilly-Richardson, Senior Chemist from the Food Safety & Technology Laboratory, Bahamas.

“There are many areas in my country where there are no controls; e.g. imports, fishing vessels, etc. The information received as well as the discussions with other participants will help me to develop systems for these controls in the future,” another participant said.

Dr. Susan Singh-Renton, CRFM’s Deputy Executive Director and CRFM's Project Coordinator, welcomed the course saying that it “…allowed the trainees to develop a stronger understanding of the full extent of laboratory and regulatory requirements for fulfilling international sanitary standards for fish and fishery products, and allowed them also to share lessons and best practices in considering possible solutions for many of the challenges faced in putting the methods into actual practice in their home countries.”

The project under whose umbrella the training falls is titled, “Capacity Building of regulatory and industry stakeholders in Aquaculture and Fisheries Health and Food Safety to meet the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) requirements of international trade.” It was funded under the EU’s “10th EDF Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project and delivered under the technical leadership of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, supported by a team of consultants from Megapesca in Portugal. The aim is to continue to help CARIFORUM countries to improve the safety of fish and fishery products for consumers in national and export markets.

Apart from the delivery of these training courses, the capacity building activity, which started in September 2016 and will run until January 2017, has prepared six new manuals to help fish inspectors apply the best international practices to the inspection of fishing vessels, processing establishments and aquaculture facilities. The subjects covered include Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), traceability, and for the first time, a compendium of food safety hazards encountered in Caribbean fishery products. In addition, two manuals were prepared under the project for laboratories on the testing of fishery products to ensure food safety and the accuracy of laboratory test results.

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The fishery sector is important for many countries in the region, as a source of employment and export revenues. Overall, in 2015, the CARIFORUM countries exported fishery products worth US$378 million to many countries around the world. Whilst 89% of this was from just five countries (Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago), the fishery sector of many other countries in the region delivers supplies directly to their tourist sector. The continued economic importance of the fishery revenue, therefore, depends on ensuring that products meet international sanitary standards. Governments in the region are, therefore, very interested in ensuring that regionally important food safety hazards, such a ciguatera and histamine, are under control.

The EU project “10th EDF Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project” has the expected result that capacities will be strengthened at the national and regional levels for health and food safety requirements of fisheries and aquaculture (inland, marine) products, which will also ensure safe food standards for fisheries products in the region, while meeting the requirements of the region's trading partners worldwide.

 

Published in Press release

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 13 December 2016 (CRFM)—The fisheries industry on Wednesday moves one step closer to making the Caribbean fish and seafood trade safer and more profitable when experts meet in Barbados to finalise a raft of model regional laws, policies and procedures.

 

The Caribbean region’s ability to cash in on a potentially lucrative, international export trade in fish and seafood – already worth 315 million US dollars a year – is being held back by gaps in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) said.

 

But the experts, who are wrapping up an 18-month-long project to investigate fish handling policies and design a new seafood safety regime for the region’s fish and fishery products, are set to introduce a new regime for SPS measures in CARIFORUM states.

 

“The continued viability and further development of the fishing industry of the CRFM region face several challenges, some of which are related to inadequate development of SPS systems to suit the specific needs of fisheries and aquaculture operations,” said CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton ahead of the two-day meeting.

 

Haughton said the experts are meeting to bring forward work begun a year ago on preparing model legislation.

 

The meeting will unveil model fisheries and aquaculture SPS legislation that is to be presented to CARICOM with the intention of being enacted in each exporting nation. The model legislation has been developed in consultation and communication with policymakers, fisherfolk, processors and other industry players.

 

Compliance with globally established SPS standards is voluntary – a worrisome development that experts say is stopping member states from tapping into niche markets overseas and boosting foreign exchange earnings.

 

Investigations by international consultants on the project exposed large gaps in legally binding protocols managing food safety throughout the region.

 

The experts found barriers to trade of fish and fisheries products due to inadequate SPS standards; minimal legislative standards for aquaculture; concern about food security and decreasing use of local, fresh seafood – the solution for which improved SPS support is an essential component, the CRFM said.

 

With the impact of global environmental changes including climate change on the Caribbean, the regional fisheries agency said there is need for improved management and monitoring of the natural environment that sustains fisheries and aquaculture production.

 

The meeting is to be streamed live daily for regional media, industry figures, officials and anyone interested in fisheries and the safety and health of fish and seafood in the region, the CRFM said. The proceedings may be followed on the CRFM’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/TheCRFM.

 

Government officials from each CRFM member state are to review and endorse the final documents to allow final approval. These will then be recommended to CARICOM’s Council for Trade Economic Development (COTED), the regional bloc’s forum of trade ministers, as well as other CARICOM bodies.

 

The two-day meeting is the high point 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 Belize-based 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). The project is financed under the EU’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project.

 

Published in Press release

Rainforest Seafoods is a leading Caribbean producer and exporter based in Jamaica, with operations in Belize. It exports safe seafood to the EU. (Photo: Rainforest Seafoods)

 

Belize City, Friday, 27 May 2016 (CRFM)—Caribbean economies are poised to benefit from a region-wide initiative to expand seafood market share, through the implementation of food safety measures to enable countries to get a bigger piece of the global pie, worth an estimated US$130 billion annually. Caribbean countries, including the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, are now capitalizing on a coordinated approach to broaden the gateway to the growing market. CARIFORUM (CARICOM and the Dominican Republic) now exports about US$400 million worth of fish and seafood annually.

Belize and Jamaica are two Caribbean seafood exporters already tapping into markets controlled by the European Union (EU)—a tough market to access because of stringent standards which require that countries have systems in place to ensure that their exports are not only safe for consumption but also free from harmful pests and pathogens.

In the case of Belize, which has traditionally exported shrimp to the EU, it is moving to export conch to that market for the first time in 2016, according to Endhir Sosa, Senior Food Safety Inspector, Belize.

Sosa was among the eighteen professionals from CARIFORUM who recently received management training on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) in Iceland. The training was offered under the capacity-building component of an EU-sponsored project to implement SPS Measures under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) regime. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) are collaborating to implement the fisheries component of the project.

 

Demystifying SPS

Sosa broke down the meaning of this very technical term, which could just as well be the acronym for ‘safe and profitable seafood’: “In a nutshell, it’s just a series of procedures, of guidelines, of requirements, that one needs to implement to basically prove that what they are producing is safe,” the food safety expert commented.

“Confidence is what is key! It is what everybody seeks when it comes to the purchase and consumption of food products,” he said, adding that, “SPS is one of those routes where you can establish that confidence in your product.”

BAHA monitors seafood processing plants

BAHA monitors seafood processed for trade (Photo: BAHA)

 

Sosa notes that, “Once you have an established SPS system in place and it is vetted and it’s shown to be functional, that will open markets locally, regionally and internationally."

This has been the case for Belize: “When BAHA [the Belize Agricultural Health Authority] first started in 2000, you could count the number of countries we were exporting to on your hand. It wasn’t more than 5 to 7. Today, thanks to SPS, thanks to the confidence that our SPS program has put into our products, not only fish, the markets have increased almost three-fold. Now we have a little over 30 markets,” Sosa said.

 

Building SPS capacity

Chairman of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, Denzil Roberts, who is also the Chief Fisheries Officer in Guyana, notes that: “The fisheries sector within the CARIFORUM region continues to play an important role in rural development, food and nutrition security, income generation and foreign exchange earnings. However, it must be recognized that there is a paucity of skilled personnel within the region to further develop the sector in keeping with the emerging challenges.”

The intensive two-week training course recently held in Iceland served to help fill this knowledge gap in the Caribbean.

Susan Singh-Renton, the CRFM’s Deputy Executive Director, notes that, “The CRFM/UNU-FTP SPS Management Course has been very successful in achieving its objective of exposing CARIFORUM Fisheries and Agricultural Health and Food Safety experts to the key lessons and best practices of the Icelandic fishing industry in producing safe and wholesome fishery products of an international standard.”

trainees in wrap up

Thor Asgeirsson, Deputy Programme Director at UNU-FTP,  talks with CARIFORUM SPS professionals in wrap-up session (Photo: CRFM)

 

She added that, “At the close of the course, participants reflected on and also documented how they would apply what they had learned to improve fisheries SPS management in their home countries.”

Jeannette Mateo, Director of Fisheries Resources at the Dominican Council for Fisheries and Aquaculture (CODOPESCA) in the Dominican Republic, suggested that nationals in her country, such as biologists, inspectors, fisheries officers and consumer protection agents, should be trained in basic concepts of SPS.

For his part, Roberts hopes that the trainees will immediately begin to impart what they have learned to others in their national networks. Roberts furthermore hopes that trainees will implement internationally recognized safety standards for seafood, thereby safeguarding the health of the local population while ensuring market access to meet global market demands.

Singh-Renton said that the CRFM will also strive to do its part to provide follow-up regional support for improved SPS management for the region's fishing industries, including facilitating continued networking among the course participants.

Gatekeepers fight against food fraud

One of the more frequent but often overlooked problems within the Caribbean is food fraud and mislabeling,” notes Dr. Wintorph Marsden, Senior Veterinary Officer in Jamaica’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

Marsden said that Jamaica is considered a major transshipment hub for fish and fishery products to the wider Caribbean region, and so the burden is on Jamaica, as a first point of entry, to implement a system of verification of products entering its food chain.

To combat food fraud, it is an absolute necessity to introduce traceability, said Marsden. This can now be done electronically, with modern systems of recording, such as the use barcodes, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and other tracking media within the production chain.

In the Dominican Republic, Mateo’s job is to review all the supporting documentation for seafood imports and exports. She has observed, though, that, “Some of these documents might have statements to make the consumers believe that they are getting a high-quality product while they are actually getting products with less quality and deliberate mislabeling.”

An example, she said, is fish from the genus Pangasius, a catfish primarily sourced from the Asian market, which is being sold cheaply in the region and marketed at times as “grouper”—not only at supermarkets but also at some restaurants.

 

Pangasius sometimes passed off as grouper in Caribbean

Vietnam catfish often passed off as grouper in the Caribbean (Photo: VASEP)

 

“While in Iceland, I learned that deliberate mislabeling of food, the substitution of products with cheaper alternatives, and false statements about the origin of foods, are all food fraud,” Mateo said.

“This is relevant to the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean, where imported fish are in some cases marketed at lower prices than the local ones, not only due to the lower production cost of fish products such as tilapia and Pangasius (catfish – sold as ‘basa’ or ‘swai’) in comparison with those produced in the country, but also because of unfair practices in trade,” Mateo said.

She said that as a result of the Iceland training, the Dominican Republic is now in the final stage of building an improved national SPS system for fishery and aquaculture products which was initiated with the support of the government of Chile.

 

Safe and healthy food also vital at home

 

local seafood

Buyers opt for local snapper or imported seafood from the same freezer at a Belize supermarket (Photo: CRFM)

 

Whereas the move to implement SPS measures was originally focused on export trade, regional experts also indicate that they are vital to food safety and health even within our region.

“The Caribbean is known to be a huge importer of food products,” Sosa noted. “We have to look after our population, we have to look after the health of our people, we have to look after the health of our environment and our agricultural products; and thus SPS—although at this point it is mostly the industrialized countries that are pushing it, that are requiring it—should be really and truly across the board.”

Science-based risk assessment and risk analysis of imports are also key in protecting vital agriculture and fisheries industries.

“We have been mandated with the task of being the gatekeepers when it comes to food safety and agricultural health and we take that responsibility very seriously. Sometimes the public will get angry with us, because they truly don’t understand why we are doing this. ‘Why can’t I bring this across the border?’ But the realization is that if a disease [is introduced], it could potentially destroy an entire industry—whether it be, for example, bringing across poultry with avian influenza, or bringing in diseased shrimp—it could wipe out an entire multi-million-dollar industry,” Sosa warned.

 

Positioning small producers for export

 

Grenada fish bacon for export

 

Southern Fishermen's Cooperative in Grenada adds value to fish to produce smoked bacon for export to regional and international markets (Photo: CRFM)

 

Sosa noted that SPS measures were initially geared towards industrial markets but now they are encouraging small producers to position themselves for export by implementing SPS Measures.

“They might not have the finance to construct an elaborate facility, but we can start with the basics,” said Sosa, pointing to “good manufacturing practices and the sanitation standard operating procedures,” which, he said, would build confidence in products from even small producers.

More importantly, he said, implementing SPS measures is the first step that producers will need to make to even think about trading on the world market.

 

 

You may access the VIMEO version of the video here.

Published in Press release
Tuesday, 08 September 2015 14:34

VIDEO: Safe Seafood from the Caribbean

 

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.

TAKING PART:

  • Milton Haughton -  Executive Director, CRFM
  • James Nicholas - Southern Fishermen Association, Grenada
  • Dr. George Grant - Veterinary Expert, Jamaica
  • Jeannette Mateo - Head of FIsheries, Dominican Republic
  • Chris Hedley - Legal Expert, UK

DURATION: 6'30"

FORMAT: MP4 1280 x 720 NTSC

  • The video is freely available for re-broadcast/online distribution/embedding via the CRFM's Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/uEZ2cfHfeL8 OR

BROADCASTERS: Please notify re-broadcast with suggested transmission date and time by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Published in Press release

 

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

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

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. 

 

Published in Press release
Published in EU - EPA SPS Project
Tuesday, 11 August 2015 12:46

SPS Fact Sheet #2

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