BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, Thursday, 26 April 2018 (CRFM)—At its recent annual meeting in Montserrat, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum framed a set of recommendations that will be submitted to regional policy-makers at the 12th Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), slated for 18 May 2018 in Montserrat.
The Forum’s recommendations include measures for boosting production in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, risk insurance for fisheries, ongoing challenges to fisheries subsidies, gender mainstreaming, and the development of critical fishery management plans.
The Forum noted that the overall trend in total marine fish production of the CRFM Member States since 2005 is one of increasing production, with continued improvements over the 2015-2016 period. However, the region is a net importer of fisheries products. Latest data indicate that imports for the year 2016 totaled US$281.5 million, while exports were valued at US$256.2 million. Concerns were expressed that there are still gaps in the data and the Forum stressed the need for Member States to continue improving upon the collection and sharing of fisheries data, including trade data, in order to foster greater understanding and to strengthen management and development of the regions fisheries and aquaculture resources.
The Forum Meeting discussed a series of fisheries management plans, such as plans for the Blackfin Tuna and the Caribbean Billfish, as well as management plans for the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). These regional plans are aimed at improving cooperation among countries to ensure effective conservation, management and sustainable use of the fisheries and to protect the marine ecosystems.
Another important regional development relates to the introduction of co-management arrangements for specific fisheries, including FADs and fish pot fisheries in the Eastern Caribbean States that participated in the Japanese-funded Caribbean Fisheries Co-management (CARIFICO) Project. The Forum reviewed the outcome of the project and future steps for continued improvements on co-management and participatory approaches to achieve sustainable and profitable fisheries in the region.
The importance of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management plans to reduce vulnerability and improve resilience in the fisheries sector was prominent on the agenda. Among the key initiatives currently underway are the establishment of an early warning system for fishers using a mobile app, and the development of insurance policies. There are two separate insurance products being developed: one is a sovereign parametric policy which would be available for purchase by governments and the other is a basic livelihood protection policy for purchase by individual small-scale fishers.
The USA-sponsored Caribbean Oceans and Aquaculture Sustainability Facility (COAST) is being developed by the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility Segregated Portfolio Company (CCRIF SPC) in collaboration with the World Bank, CRFM and other partners. The COAST insurance policy is intended to serve as a platform for innovative financing to address food and livelihood security and climate change. Incentives would be given through the risk insurance policy to implement measures that contribute to sustainable and climate resilient fisheries management and disaster risk reduction.
The need for livelihood protection was underscored by the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean during the 2017 hurricane season. The Forum expressed its full support for the development of a protocol to incorporate climate change adaptation and disaster risk management into the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy.
The Forum also reviewed and supported the development of a Gender Policy for the fisheries sector, and a regional Protocol on securing sustainable small-scale fisheries for Caribbean Community fisherfolk and societies. This protocol is being developed under the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy.
The recommendations were developed in order to protect the region’s fisheries resources from the threat of overexploitation and emerging threats such as climate change and warming oceans. They also aim to enhance the livelihoods, social welfare and wealth creation from the marine resources. According to CRFM’s Executive Director, Milton Haughton, the time has arrived for the CARICOM countries to pay more careful attention and make the investments necessary to protect and fully utilize our coastal and ocean resources for sustainable development.
The 16th meeting of the Forum was the first meeting of the CRFM held in Montserrat, one of the 17 Member States of the CRFM, due to the destruction of the capital city, Plymouth, by the Soufrière Hills volcano which began erupting in the mid 1990s.
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, 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.