Belize City, Monday, 25 April 2022 (CRFM)—Fisheries Ministers from countries that comprise the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) met on Friday, 22 April 2022, at their 16th Regular Meeting, to advance the institution’s strategic actions to build resilience and boost sustainable fisheries and aquaculture production, through targeted initiatives aimed at maximizing sustainable blue economic growth and improving access to international markets, while tackling the scourge of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and transnational organized crime in the industry.
Ministers highlight importance of blue economic growth in reversing declines in fish production and exports resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and in accelerating regional economic development
Before handing over the mantle of leadership to Suriname, the outgoing chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council, Hon. Saboto Ceasar, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Transformation, Forestry and Fisheries of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, emphasized that whereas much had been achieved during the previous year, significant work remained to be done. He informed the meeting that at the 37th session of the FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (LARC37) held in Ecuador in March 2022, the CRFM Member States reiterated the request to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), for the deployment of the Norwegian Research Vessel (RV) Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, to conduct an independent marine resource survey of the marine living resources in the waters under the jurisdiction of CARICOM States. During this 16th Meeting of the Ministerial Council, the Ministers reiterated the crucial importance of moving ahead with the research, as it would provide an invaluable evidence base to drive informed blue economic development across the region, and expedite the region’s economic rebound and recovery from the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the fisheries and aquaculture sector, which is already beginning to show positive signs of revitalization with more fishers and vessels returning to sea. The Meeting also discussed other ongoing initiatives to strengthen capacity for evidence-based decision making, including the Iceland-funded CARICE Project and FAO/WECAFC-Fisheries Resources Monitoring System (FIRMS) partnership.
Hon. Parmanand Sewdien, Suriname’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, elected as the new chair of the CRFM Ministerial, presided over the deliberations. The Ministers received updates on several initiatives being implemented by the CRFM Secretariat and Member States in collaboration with regional and international development partners, in the context of the Third CRFM Strategic Plan, spanning 2022 to 2030. These include the US$48 million CAF-FAO-CRFM-GEF supported project on Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus project (BE-CLME+), which the CRFM hopes will commence later in 2022. The Ministers affirmed that this initiative could contribute greatly to the realization of the target set by the CARICOM Heads of Government at their meeting held during March 2022, to reduce the region’s overall food import bill of around US$5-6 billion by 25% by 2025.
Additionally, the Ministers discussed initiatives which the CRFM and its Member States are undertaking to address the Sargassum inundations that have been affecting the region, including efforts to explore opportunities, through a partnership with New Zealand, to safely harvest Sargassum for the development of products that would enhance the region’s economic and climate resilience. This is being pursued under a three-year project, spanning 2021 to 2023, funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and implemented jointly by the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited (PFR) and the CRFM.
The Ministers also dealt with the vital need for strengthening the region’s access to international markets, through enhancing fish and seafood quality and safety, with enhanced sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. The CRFM Secretariat and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), through the 11th European Development Fund SPS Project, continue to work with Member States and the private sector to build their trading capacity, thereby also contributing to the wider goal of slashing the region’s import bill over the next three years. They also considered the progress of the ongoing negotiations at the World Trade Organisation to prohibit the provision of certain fisheries subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (or IUU) fishing and overfishing.
The Ministerial Council gave the greenlight for the CRFM Secretariat to work with development partners to facilitate knowledge and technology transfer for integrated multitrophic aquaculture—which enables cost-effective and environmentally friendly expansion of aquaculture, including mariculture. The Ministers also welcomed positive news on the progress of activities under the Japan-funded COASTFISH project, which builds upon a previous Japan-funded co-management project in the region, which has strengthened the conservation, management and sustainable use of coastal marine resources through greater involvement of fishers and coastal communities.
The United Nations has declared 2022 as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA), to celebrate and improve awareness of the significant role of small-scale fishers. In welcoming the IYAFA celebrations, the Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the small-scale fisheries and aquaculture for employment, livelihoods, food security and nutrition, and health and wellbeing of the people of the region and acknowledged the CRFM’s preparation of a series of activities, including a high-level policy dialogue with fishers to mainstream small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the ongoing blue economy dialogue.
Hon. Avinash Singh, represented the Ministry of Agriculture,
Trinidad and Tobago, represented by Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries – Senator the Honourable Avinash Singh, was elected as vice chair at the meeting and is, therefore, next in line to assume the chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council in 2023, when the CRFM will commemorate the 20th anniversary since its launch with a series of activities that the Ministers approved during this 16th Meeting of the Council.
The CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said that this was a very productive meeting. He noted that the Ministers recognized the urgency of addressing the challenges facing the sector and made several decisions that will contribute to a more sustainable, resilient, and productive fisheries and aquaculture sector and ultimately to improved national and regional economic growth, food security and nutrition, livelihoods and well-being of the people of the region.
--------- End of Release---------
Belize City, Friday, 8 April 2022 (CRFM)—Several Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) are participating in the 7th Meeting of Ministers in Charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), being hosted in Accra, Ghana, 5-8 April 2022.
The Ministerial Meeting, which opened on 7 April, was preceded by two days of engagements in which senior technical officials from eight (8) CRFM Member States and the Dominican Republic, joined by the Executive Director of the CRFM Secretariat in Belize, had an opportunity to collaborate with their counterparts from Africa and the Pacific region to formulate recommendations for Ministerial action. The decisions of this Ministerial Meeting of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) would form the basis for activities in its two-year workplan for the cross-regional organization.
OACPS is an organization comprised of seventy-nine (79) Member States from three (3) regional blocs: Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. It works towards sustainable development and poverty reduction within its Member States and greater integration into the world’s economy. It is against this backdrop that the organization places strong emphasis on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, while promoting a vision for the OACPS Blue Economy Agenda 2030.
Many of the items on the meeting's agenda have also been on the table at regional meetings of the CRFM. These include blue economic growth based on the marine resources; strengthening sustainable small-scale fisheries to improve livelihoods, food security and nutrition in the region; preventing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which the CRFM believes should encompass the broader issue of organized crime in the fishing industry. This region advocates for stronger international and regional cooperation as well as stronger sanctions and penalties in law to effectively deter IUU fishing and other criminal activities associated with it, including human, drugs and arms trafficking, money laundering, and seafood fraud.
The Ministers agreed to scale up sustainable and inclusive fisheries and aquaculture value chains. They also discussed and agreed to take action to strengthen ocean-based programs for adaptation and mitigation of Climate Change and ocean acidification as well as preserving maritime spaces of Member States amid receding baselines resulting from sea-level rise and coastal erosion due to changing climate.
Videos courtesy: FAO
Belize City, Friday, 18 March 2022 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) hosted a Technical Meeting on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Organized Crime in the Fishing Industry this week. It marked an important milestone in the region’s efforts to fortify the region’s response to this very challenging and costly problem, through coordinated action at both the national and regional levels, with the support of the Government of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the Blue Justice Initiative.
The CRFM, its Member States, and partner agencies both at the CARICOM and international levels committed to advancing their collaboration using modern digital technology, to strengthen the region’s response to illegal fishing and transnational organized criminal activities, such as drugs, human and small arms trafficking, trade in contraband goods, document fraud and forgery, tax crimes, and money laundering, which use commercial and recreational fishing as a cover for their activities.
Last October, during a high-level meeting of CRFM Ministers, twelve (12) Member States signed the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’). They also endorsed the Blue Justice Initiative, which supports developing countries in operationalizing the Copenhagen Declaration, aimed at “promoting a sustainable and fair Blue Economy for all, that is free from fisheries crime.”
The CRFM and CARICOM IMPACS convened the technical meeting of senior fisheries and maritime law enforcement officers to identify priority actions to strengthen regional and international cooperation to combat and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fisheries sector. The event marked an important milestone for the Caribbean region in collectively combating the scourge of crime connected with the fishing sector.
Over 90 participants from 15 Member States of the CRFM and representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat, the CRFM, CARICOM IMPACS, the Regional Security System (RSS), UNDP and the Government of Norway participated in the virtual session.
The meeting featured a diverse array of speakers who provided participants with insights on the Blue Justice Initiative and ‘Copenhagen Declaration, the UNDP Blue Resilience Project and its use of digital technology and institutional cooperation, tools and techniques to detect and analyze fisheries crime, and a general overview of fisheries crime in the Caribbean. Participants engaged in interactive sessions, as they contributed to charting the way forward.
In addressing the gathering, Hon. Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, and Chair of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, said: “The fight globally has increased against IUU fishing and organized crime, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Member States of the CRFM continue to honor our duty… It is our quest in the Caribbean to partner with all international agencies to ensure that we reduce criminal activities when it comes to the Blue Economy. We intend to work with regional and international partners and other friendly governments such as Norway… because every Member State in the global community must play an important role.”
CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton noted the seriousness and impacts of illegal and criminal activities in the fisheries sector and expressed the CRFM’s appreciation for Norway’s commitment to the sustainable use of ocean resources, through the Blue Justice Initiative and the Copenhagen Declaration. He thanked the Government of Norway and the UNDP for supporting the region in its efforts to help address this intractable problem.
--------- End of Release---------
15 October 2018:
The Copenhagen Declaration was initially adopted by 9 countries: Faroe Islands, Ghana, Indonesia, Kiribati, Namibia, Norway, Palau, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka.
10 December 2020:
Several Ministers responsible for Fisheries from the CARICOM / CRFM Member States took part in a virtual High-Level International Blue Justice Conference that was convened by the Government of Norway. The main purpose of the Conference was to promote and advance political support for the non-binding Copenhagen Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the fishing industry.
21 May 2021:
At the Fifteenth Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM, Ministers discussed the issues and recognized the need for Member States to cooperate with other affected countries to improve understanding and knowledge of the problem, identify countermeasures, and build capacity to prevent, deter and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fishing industry, in the region and globally. The Ministers issued Resolution No. MC 15(6) of 2021, documenting their position.
4 October 2021:
During a special ministerial meeting, several Ministers from the Caribbean Community responsible for Fisheries, the Blue Economy and related matters, delivered official statements endorsing The International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’). They also affirmed their support for the Blue Justice Initiative, established by the Government of Norway to support implementation of the declaration. (View the proceedings and country statementshere.)
Twelve (12) CRFM Member States, The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and The Turks and Caicos Islands, signed the Copenhagen Declaration on this occasion.
President of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines National Fisherfolk Organisation and Deputy Chair of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations, Mr. Winsbert Harry and two other fishers, Cafu Guy and Mac Clement St. Rose (L-R) receiving safety and navigation equipment to replace those lost in an at-sea accident earlier this year.
The equipment was obtained through the Secretariat of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) under the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience. The CRFM Secretariat coordinated the marine sub-component of the IDB-funded Pilot Program for Climate Resilience - Caribbean Regional Track which was executed by the Mona Office for Research and Innovation (MORI) at the University of West Indies at Mona, Jamaica.
A key output of the marine component was the FEWER (Fisheries Early Warning and Emergency Response) mobile app which gives fisherfolk the tools to prepare and respond to the effects of climate change-related disasters.
The FEWER APP can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.
Belize City, Friday, 8 October 2021 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), an inter-governmental organization of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), announced this week that several of its Member States in the CARICOM region had signed The International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry, also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’. The countries simultaneously affirmed their resolute support to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and transnational organized crime in the fishing industry by supporting the Declaration and the Blue Justice Initiative. The Initiative will help to strengthen cooperation among countries and build capacity to address transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry and to combat IUU Fishing.
Speaking at a regional meeting of CARICOM Ministers responsible for Fisheries and Blue Economic Growth on Monday, 4 October 2021, Hon. Saboto S. Caesar, Chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council, and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labor, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, described the situation as “a very difficult problem,” adding that much needs to be done to tackle this growing threat that has been undermining the progress of the region.
Hon. Saboto Caesar hosts high-level Ministerial Meeting.
“Available data indicate that IUU fishing accounts for up to 30% of the total global catch, valued at several billions of US dollars…,” Minister Caesar said, adding that “There is a growing body of evidence showing that drug traffickers, human traffickers, small arms traffickers, and traders in contraband goods, among others, are using fishing as a cover to conduct their nefarious activities.”
Minister Caesar said that the CRFM Member States are very grateful for the support and leadership being provided by the Government of Norway in tackling the problem, through efforts such as the Blue Justice Initiative and the Blue Resilience Project.
“We recognize the value of the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the global fishing industry that was done in Copenhagen, Denmark, in October 2018. It provides a solid framework for countries like ours in the Caribbean to work together with regional and international partners to better understand the problem, share information, and build the necessary legal, regulatory, monitoring, control, surveillance, and enforcement capacity to defeat and eradicate transnational organized crime and IUU fishing," Minister Caesar said.
The CRFM Ministerial Meeting was convened during the 16th Annual Caribbean Week of Agriculture to provide an opportunity for Caribbean countries to formally express their support by signing the declaration. Even ahead of the meeting with representatives from the Government of Norway, the CARICOM Secretariat, and other regional and international development partners, CRFM Member States began to express their resounding support for the instruments, and the Ministerial Council issued a resolution after its 15th Meeting held in May 2021, setting the stage for this week’s milestones.
Member States have attested to the monumental cost of IUU fishing to the region. Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica, detailed the quantifiable cost on Jamaica’s economy, which has lost billions of Jamaica dollars in earnings as well as thousands of jobs. The devastation caused by IUU fishing forced a 2-year moratorium on the queen conch fishery, implemented from 1 February 2019 to 31 March 2021, to allow the fishery time to recover.
“As it relates to queen conch fishing, it is estimated that over the last 20 years (since the year 2000), Jamaica has lost at least US$284 million due to foreign IUU fishing,” said Minister Shaw, who provided a conservative estimate based on illegal foreign motor fishing vessels caught in Jamaican waters and an extrapolation of the estimated average rate of poaching.
“The closure of the queen conch fishery possibly resulted in annual losses of approximately US$6 million in direct export earnings and loss of jobs for some 5,500 Jamaicans. The multiplier effect, resulting from the loss of jobs and export earnings may be as much as US$20 million during the 2-year period,” Minister Shaw added.
Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica, detailed the quantifiable cost on Jamaica’s economy.
Jamaica was one of the 12 CRFM Member States which signed the Copenhagen Declaration en bloc this week and simultaneously endorsed the Blue Justice Initiative. As of Friday, 8 October 2021, 12 CRFM Member States had deposited signed instruments with the CRFM Secretariat in Belize City, Belize. Those Member States are The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, The Turks and Caicos Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago.
"We need to continue to strengthen our collaboration, and I think we will begin to turn the tide on this very difficult issue that we are dealing with—of unlawfulness in the fishing industry and the depletion and degradation of our resources—and to sustainably use and develop these resources for the benefit of our people,” CRFM Executive Director, Mr. Milton Haughton, said, in addressing the Ministers.
Mr. Haughton added that going forward, the CRFM Secretariat will be collaborating with the UNDP and officials from Norway to organize a regional workshop involving technical officials from the Fisheries Departments and Maritime Security Agencies from Member States and Regional Institutions, to map out future needs and identify at least one high priority intervention to be supported under the Blue Justice Initiative.
“This is exciting! I want to take this opportunity to thank all the countries, the Ministers, and the Permanent Secretaries, that signed on to the declaration ... I also want to thank our colleagues from Norway, UNDP, FAO, UNODC, as well as our regional partners: CARICOM IMPACS and the Regional Security System (RSS) for the excellent support and collaboration," the CRFM Executive Director said in closing the meeting.
Belize City, Tuesday, 5 October 2021 (CRFM)—The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) held its Eleventh Special Meeting on Monday, 4 October 2021, and approved three resolutions which together chart a strategic and robust direction for the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector. The vision, which looks ahead to the year 2030, is for the effective management, conservation and sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture resources, to maximize social and economic benefits, such as food and nutrition security, and jobs in the CRFM Member States.
During the Eleventh Special Meeting, the Ministerial Council approved, by way of resolution, the Third CRFM Strategic Plan, 2022 – 2030. The Council directed the Caribbean Fisheries Forum (comprised of the Chief Fisheries Officers and Heads of Fisheries Departments in the 17 Member States), as well as the CRFM Secretariat and other partners to take appropriate action to develop and implement the programmes, plans and projects considered necessary to achieve the goals and objectives articulated in the Third CRFM Strategic Plan. The CRFM will collaborate closely with other stakeholders, regional and international development partners, and donors in implementing the CRFM Strategic Plan, which was prepared using a shorter, simpler, visually appealing, and illustrative format which is more user-friendly and suitable for wider dissemination to stakeholders and development partners.
Furthermore, the Ministers underscored the need for the CRFM and its Member States to significantly enhance the mobilization of financial and technical resources to support accelerated blue economic growth, particularly in respect of the living marine resources and sustainable aquaculture in the CARICOM Region. In this regard, the Ministerial Council also approved the CRFM Resource Mobilization Strategy, to also span 2022 to 2030.
The Ministers stressed the importance of giving high priority to mobilizing the financial and other resources required to implement the approved regional and national policies, and the Strategic Plan for the period 2022 to 2030, to improve food security, livelihoods, and economic and social resilience—especially considering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change on the food systems and economies of Member States.
The Council agreed that both the CRFM Strategic Plan and the Resource Mobilization Strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly over the 9-year period, to ensure that they remain relevant and responsive to the changing needs and realities in the Member States.
Finally, the Ministers approved a White Paper to guide the further development and approval of the Model Fisheries Legislation for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures for the CARICOM Region. The White Paper sets out the Council’s proposals and policy position concerning the CARICOM Model SPS Fisheries legislation.
The legislation is comprised of the Draft Model Aquatic Animal Health Bill and the Draft Model Aquatic Food Safety Regulations, which are being developed with funding from the European Union. They 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 improving the income of fishers and maximizing economic gains for the sector.
--------- End of Release---------
NOTE: Access the following resources via our website: https://crfm.int/ or click the links below for direct access.
The overall objective of the CRFM Resource Mobilization Strategy is to ensure that there is a clear, systematic, predictable, coordinated approach to soliciting, acquiring, managing, reporting, monitoring, and evaluating the use of funds and assistance received from donors and International Development Partners, and for expanding and strengthening the relationship between the CRFM and donors to ensure adequate and sustainable resources are availability to support implementation of the policies, programmes and strategic plans approved by the Ministerial Council.
These include the commitments laid down in the Agreement establishing the CRFM, The Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy and its Protocols, the CRFM Strategic Plans, and other approved regional policy documents. To achieve this, the CRFM will need sufficient, predictable and sustained contributions in the form of funds and technical assistance from Member States, bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors and regional and international development partners.
Read online using the version below:
The task to develop the Third CRFM Strategic Plan started in 2020 with an independent performance review of the CRFM. The review process was facilitated by extensive consultation and participation by Member States, development partners and stakeholders at all levels in the region. Interviews with key stakeholders were done both in-person and virtually, in collaboration with the CRFM Secretariat.
The target groups were Chief Fisheries Officers, Directors of Fisheries or Fisheries Administrator from the CRFM countries, Ministers and Permanent Secretaries / Chief Executive Officer of the respective countries, CRFM staff, fisherfolks, fishing enterprises, processors, exporters, research and academic institutions, NGOs, from CRFM countries and representatives from CRFM partner institutions.
Also, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum held four Special Meetings and the CRFM Ministerial held one Special Meetings specifically to provide oversight and guidance for the review process and preparation of the Strategic Plan. These official and informal engagements provided invaluable inputs and guidance that contributed to the elaboration and validation of the Third CRFM Strategic Plan.
Read online using the version below: