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 The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has congratulated member states after a US government review of the status of the Queen Conch keeps the regions conch fishery alive. The review follows a petition to have the Queen Conch listed as threatened or endangered.

On Monday, November 3, 2014, the National Maine Fisheries Services (NMFS), Department of Commerce, USA, concluded that the queen conch is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range nor is it not likely to become so within the foreseeable future.

Executive Director of the CRFM Mr. Milton Haughton noted: The CRFM is extremely pleased by this outcome and takes this opportunity to commend all the countries and stakeholders across the region that invested time and effort in working with the CRFM Secretariat in providing the detailed scientific and resource management information that assisted the United States authorities in arriving at their determination that the species is neither threatened or endangered.

US-based NGO the WildEarth Guardians had petitioned the US government to list the commercially important queen conch as threatened or endangered under the USA Endangered Species Act (ESA).  After a comprehensive status report for the queen conch conducted over the past 2 years using the best scientific and commercial information available, the US government authorities concluded that the species does not warrant listing at this time.

Mr. Haughton said that the CRFM Secretariat has worked closely with the Member States in opposing this petition which if successful, would have resulted in significant dislocation, loss of jobs and economic harm to thousands of fishers and their families in the countries that depend upon the queen conch for their livelihoods and food security.

The CRFM has maintained from the beginning that the petition was unjustified as it was based on outdated and erroneous information and at variance with the reality of the fisheries in the Caribbean states which are the main source of the commodity exported to the US and European markets,he said. 

Mr. Haughton continued, We must, however, continue to work together in a cooperative manner to ensure proper conservation, effective management and long-term sustainable use of the queen conch resources and indeed all other living marine species that are the basis of commercial and recreational fisheries in the region.

On February 27, 2012, WildEarth Guardians, a US conservation NGO, submitted a petition to the National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, to list queen conch as threatened or endangered under the ESA. 

On August 27, 2012, after reviewing the petition, the literature cited in the petition, and other information available to them, NMFS concluded the petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted and initiated a formal status review of the species. Following a more comprehensive review of the literature and information submitted by the CARICOM countries and others in Central and South America, however, it became clear that listing queen conch under the ESA is not warranted. 


During the 2013 – 2014 Programme Year the CRFM continued to advance a number of recent initiatives which are designed to ensure that aquaculture and marine resources make enhanced sustainable contribution to the regional social and economic development. These include programmes to improve governance and management of the fisheries sector, strengthen research and data collection, and build human and institutional capacity to discharge the duties and responsibilities that are part of the multi-faceted portfolios of public and private sector organisations responsible for fisheries and aquaculture development and conservation.  Read it online HERE or download now.

BELIZE CITY, Oct. 15, 2014 (CRFM): The Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), comprised of Ministers responsible for Agriculture from across the Caribbean Community, has confirmed the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy as a final policy document for the Community.

The Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP) is aimed at fostering greater harmonisation across the Caribbean in the sustainable management and development of the region’s fisheries and aquaculture resources, with special emphasis on promoting the most efficient use of shared resources while aiming to improve food security and reduce poverty in the region.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has said that CARICOM policies, once authorized by COTED, are binding on the countries. At its meeting held in Suriname last Friday, 10 October 2014, COTED gave its stamp of approval to the CCCFP and said that the newly authorized policy should be applied by Member States as far as possible. The formal signing of the CCCFP by member countries is expected to commence in the months ahead.

The recommendation to COTED came out of the 5th Special Meeting of the CRFM's Ministerial Council, held on Thursday, 9 October 2014, in Paramaribo, Suriname, coinciding with Caribbean Week of Agriculture. On that occasion, the CRFM’s Executive Director, Milton Haughton, presented a paper on First CARICOM Strategic Plan (2015 – 2019). The CARICOM Sec

retariat and all other CARICOM Institutions along with the CARICOM countries will all be following a single plan for the first time following its approval by the Heads of Government in July 2014.


Nassau Grouper considered by US for listing as threatened species

On 2 September 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Government of the United States, announced its finding and determination that “the Nassau Grouper meets the definition of a threatened species” and proposes “to list it as threatened under the Endangered Species Act”.

grouperThe CRFM Ministerial Council discussed the USA’s proposal to list the Nassau Grouper, an important commercial fish species in many CRFM Member States, as a threatened species under the USA Endangered Species Act.

The Ministerial Council said that Member States would need to be proactive in addressing this challenge. It called on Member States of the CRFM to compile the best available data and information on the status and active management of Nassau grouper in their countries, particularly information that could inform NMFS’ final listing and proposed conservation measures. The window of opportunity for submitting public comment closes on 31 December 2014.

The Council also expressed grave concern over extra-national activities and decisions that impact on the social and economic conditions and international trade of CRFM Member States.


Strengthening Fisheries cooperation with French Caribbean


Apart from its endorsement of the CCCFP as a final policy document, COTED also endorsed the decision arising out of the 5th Special Meeting of the CRFM Ministerial Council, held the day before the COTED meeting, to strengthen cooperation between CARICOM/CRFM States and the French Départements Outre-Mer (DOMs) in the Caribbean, particularly Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana.

Since 2011, CRFM States have been discussing ways of improving cooperation with the French territories in the Caribbean, when the issue was discussed within the context of strengthening management and conservation of the Eastern Caribbean flyingfish fishery and combating IUU fishing in the region.

The initiative comes at a time when the CRFM has adopted the first regionally approved management plan for flyingfish, a known shared species that is harvested by up to seven countries in the Eastern Caribbean: six CARICOM States and Martinique. The flyingfish plan was approved by the CRFM in May 2014 and closer cooperation with the French will support its successful implementation and provide opportunities for further dialogue and collaboration on other challenges facing the fishing industry of the countries concerned.


Curaçao applies to join the CRFM


On 17 April 2014, Curaçao submitted its application for Associate Membership in the CRFM. The Ministerial Council, acting on the recommendation of the Executive Committee, supports the application of Curaçao to join the CRFM as an Associate Member.


Consequently, the Ministerial Council has authorized the CRFM Secretariat to commence the process of negotiating an Association Agreement with Curaçao, which should be finalized and ready for signature for the 9th Meeting of the Ministerial Council slated for April/May 2015.

The Ministerial Council is empowered to admit any State or Territory of the Caribbean Region as an Associate Member, providing the Ministerial Council is satisfied that the State or Territory is able and willing to discharge its obligations.


Expanding knowledge sharing using ICT technologies


Representatives of the CRFM countries and stakeholder organisations also discussed strategies for enhanced knowledge management and the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for information sharing and cooperation in the fisheries sector as a way to improve the welfare and livelihood of fishers.

The issue was discussed at both the Executive Committee meeting and at a one-day workshop made possible through the CTA-funded Knowledge Platform Project. The workshop reviewed materials and strategies being used for communication among fisheries professionals and stakeholders in the fishing industries across the region and considered ways of improving the effort. The workshop also sought to strengthen the use of ICT in fisheries and identified ways to promote sharing of information and technology for improving participation of stakeholders in policy development and the management of fisheries.

Fish market

CTA is the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the European Union (EU) which aims to improve food and nutritional security and encourage natural resource management in ACP countries.

At its subsequent meeting, the Ministerial Council underscored the need for countries to use modern ICT tools to enhance policy dialogue and the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of programmes and activities within the fisheries sector. The Council expressed its support for the regional fisheries workshop on promoting blue growth, scheduled for 20 to 21 November 2014 in Grenada.


Update on Case 21 to tackle IUU fishing


In relation to developments in international fisheries law, the CRFM’s Ministerial Council welcomed the ongoing deliberations by the International Tribunal on the Laws of the Seas (ITLOS), to clarify international law on matters such as flag state responsibility and liability in the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Legal counsel for the CRFM, Professor Pieter Bekker of Dundee University, Scotland, had presented oral arguments to the full Tribunal of 21 Judges on 5 September 2014. Bekker's submission was well received and noted internationally.


BELIZE CITY, August 26, 2014: Eighteen (18) senior fisheries officers and marine management experts from 10 member countries of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will take part in the 2014 CARICOM Fisheries Law and Management Training Workshop at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia. The training workshop is funded by the Government of Australia through the Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship Programme.

This is the second training workshop for fisheries personnel from the CARICOM countries. Sixteen (16) officers from nine CARICOM countries were trained in 2012.

The programme aims to enhance the capacity of regional fisheries administration in CARICOM States through the provision of training in areas such as international fisheries and environmental law, marine resource conservation and management, and monitoring, control and surveillance.

The five-week training workshop, which will run from Monday, September 1 to Friday, October 3, 2014, is a collaborative initiative between the CRFM and the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources & Security (ANCORS) at University of Wollongong. It is made possible through a Memorandum of Understanding which the CRFM Secretariat and ANCORS signed during the first training workshop held in October 2012.

Participants are Ms. Trecia Lovell of Antigua and Barbuda, Ms. Vivian Belisle-Remnarace and Mr. Rigoberto Quintana of Belize, Ms. Jeannette Mateo and Mr. Aramis Cespedes of the Dominican Republic, Mr. Casimir McDonald and Mr. Francis Calliste of Grenada, Ms. Ingrid Peters and Mr. Denzil Roberts of Guyana, Mr. Junior Squire and Mr. Gary Isaacs of Jamaica, Mr. Samuel Heyliger and Mr. Clive Wilkinson of St. Kitts and Nevis, Mr. Thomas Nelson and Mr. Vaughn Serieux of St. Lucia, Mr. Kris Isaacs and Ms. Cheryl Jardine-Jackson of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Mr. Zojindra Arjune of Suriname.


Belize City, August 27, 2014:  The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will on September 5, 2014 give oral arguments to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg, Germany in response to a request for an advisory opinion on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in African waters.

ITLOS, which is made up of 21 Judges, including two from the Caribbean, namely, Judge Dolliver Nelson (Grenada), and Judge Anthony Amos Lucky (Trinidad and Tobago), is hearing oral submissions from States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and International Organisations with an interest in the subject.

Professor Pieter Bekker

Legal Counsel for the CRFM, Professor Pieter Bekker of Dundee University, UK (photo left) will join representatives of nine (9) countries and the SRFC, the European Union (EU), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in presenting oral arguments.

Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM, noted: “The hearing is as important to the Caribbean as it is to the States that have sought advice, as it could set significant precedents for the way illegal fishing is dealt with in the future, particularly regarding the liability of flag States for IUU fishing conducted by their vessels.”

He continued: “IUU fishing is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that inflicts great economic and environmental harm on States that are victims, especially developing countries such as CARICOM countries, with limited capacity for monitoring, control and enforcement of their fisheries laws.”

The SRFC is seeking advice in response to four questions:

1) What are the obligations of the flag State in cases where illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities are conducted within the Exclusive Economic Zone of third party States?

2) To what extent shall the flag State be held liable for IUU fishing activities conducted by vessels sailing under its flag?

3) Where a fishing license is issued to a vessel within the framework of an international agreement with the flag State or with an international agency, shall the State or international agency be held liable for the violation of the fisheries legislation of the coastal State by the vessel in question?

4) What are the rights and obligations of the coastal State in ensuring the sustainable management of shared stocks and stocks of common interest, especially the small pelagic species and tuna?

The Case was initiated on March 28, 2013, when the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) representing seven African States sought the Tribunal’s assistance regarding IUU fishing by vessels registered in foreign States within waters under the national jurisdiction or control of its members and on the High Seas.  The SRFC includes Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone and the Gambia.

The arguments in Case 21 can be viewed via live Web stream through the ITLOS Web site (www.itlos.org).


Belize City, July 30, 2014 (CRFM Secretariat)—Globally, aquaculture is a multi-billion-dollar industry, but the Caribbean has yet to tap into its true potential to expand marine and fresh water aquaculture.  The good news is that a recently concluded study will provide the necessary foundation for a region-wide programme to harness more from the culture of fish and other fisheries products.

 Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), emphasizes that, “Aquaculture has the potential to make greater contribution to economic and social development of the Caribbean, provided that appropriate policy frameworks and incentives are provided for stakeholders in the sector.”

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (2014), published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said that world food fish aquaculture production expanded at an average annual rate of 6.2 percent in the period 2000–2012 (and 9.5 percent in 1990–2000), from 32.4 million to 66.6 million tonnes, with growth being relatively faster in Africa (11.7 percent) and Latin America and the Caribbean (10 percent). 

In 2008, only 2.9 percent of fishers and fish farmers were in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to FAO stats. That is because the aquaculture sector is not well developed in the CARICOM region. Significant development has been limited to countries like Jamaica and Belize, but other countries like Guyana, Haiti, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago have begun to put more emphasis on aquaculture as an area for development.

“The practices mainly involve the use of ponds to culture such species as penaeid shrimp (Penaeus spp.), tilapia (Oreochromis spp.), carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus, Hypophthalmichthys nobilis, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and cachama (Colossoma macropomum). Also, there is long line culture for algae (Eucheuma spp. and Gracelaria spp.) in St. Lucia and the mangrove oyster (Crassostrea rhizophorae) in Jamaica,” the CRFM notes. 

The CRFM has identified the promotion and development of aquaculture as one of its priority programme areas and it has identified the formulation of aquaculture development policy and legislation as key areas for attention.

As a part of the initiative, the CRFM has established a new Aquaculture Working Group which will be tasked with identifying bottlenecks and constraints to aquaculture development and make proposals to the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the technical and advisory arm of the CRFM, and the CRFM Ministerial Council, for addressing these constraints.

The Aquaculture Working Group will promote sustainable aquaculture development at the national and regional levels. The Group will also advise countries on policies, programmes and projects which would help promote the development of aquaculture.  

The objective is to increase food production and security, improve rural income and employment, diversify farm production, and increase foreign exchange earnings and reduce the high food import bill.

The Working Group is also tasked with promoting market and value-added product research to improve the marketing and trade of fish and fish products from the aquaculture sector.
The Group will also assist CRFM Member States with developing feasibility studies, socio-economic analyses, policy, planning and project formulation. It will promote interdisciplinary research on selected aqua-farming systems, with the intent of adapting and or improvement of technologies, and for the development of new technologies that are environmentally suitable/appropriate and the utilization of renewable energy sources.

The Aquaculture Working Group will assist in the development of programmes for the promotion of the participation of women and youth in the aquaculture industry/sector at all levels.  It will also promote the transfer of appropriate aquaculture technologies and techniques developed at the national and regional levels, and assist CRFM Member States to strengthen their national aquaculture agencies/organizations.

Aquaculture experts from CRFM Member States, the private sector, international aquaculture experts, as well as institutions which focus on the aquaculture development at the national and regional levels, such as UWI and FAO, will form a part of the new Working Group.

The Working Group will hold regular electronic meetings in between annual face-to-face annual meetings. The first face-to-face Meeting of the CRFM Aquaculture Working Group will be held at the Grand Coastal Hotel in Guyana from July 31 to August 1, 2014, with funding provided by The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) .  The upcoming Workshop will review and finalize a Regional Study and Five-Year Action Plan for aquaculture development in the region.


Saturday, 26 July 2014 21:48

Youth Interns Produce New Feature Video

 Our Time Interning at the CRFM Secretariat

For starters, CRFM is the acronym for Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism. That was the first bit of knowledge that I accquired on my internship. The CRFM is an organization that promotes the proper use of the Caribbean’s fisheries and other aquatic resources for the economic and social benefit of current and future generations.

AsherMy experience as an intern at CRFM was quite informative as it required me to learn more about the fishing industry, such as the socio-economic impacts of the fishing industry, new careers that can be found in the fishing industry and the many benefits of eating fish. Who knew the many benefits of consuming fish?

I can recall reading a CRFM publication stating that fishes are powerhouses for nutrition. They sport twenty percent of our daily protein and are rich in vitamins and trace elements that the body requires. Also they are low in sodium and fat which makes them even healthier. Furthermore, consuming fish helps with brain development. 

None of this would be possible if one day our fish stocks were to become depleted. This is where CRFM steps in, to promote sustainable fishing, and proper management of our aquatic resources.

-- Asher Canto, Student, St. John’s College Junior College, Belize City, Belize


PhillipMy time interning with the CRFM Secretariat was a very good experience. While there I was able to learn more about the work that they do at the CRFM and how it makes a difference throughout the CARICOM member countries.

Most of my time was spent helping to update their website. For example, I added new documents to it that were related to the various projects that they are involved in. Also, I aided in making a video to help to increase awareness about the opportunities and challenges in fisheries and its related issues to the young people of the country of Belize. The video will be on the CRFM's YouTube channel.

-- Phillip Haughton, Student, Lee University, Tennessee, USA




KaylaI, Kayla Enriquez, worked at the CRFM Secretariat for a week (26 June to 2 July 2014). It was truly a great experience for me to engage in the internship. Working with two other youths gave me a chance to connect with other people my own age and meet new people.

I was able to give my service to the CRFM in a project by putting together pictures and a video featuring several interviews. I basically assisted with the technological aspect of things. We created a mini-documentary of how youths see the fishing industry and what they can do to be a part of it and to help improve it.

This was a very interesting and eye opening experience for me, because I was closed-minded to this industry, unaware of how much fishes impact our lives. After this experience I will definitely try my very best to improve my health and eat fish more often. I am truly grateful for the experience and hope that whenever another opportunity comes up that I can help.

-- Kayla Enriquez, Student, St. John’s College Junior College, Belize City, Belize




BELIZE CITY, Tuesday, April 22, 2014 (CRFM)—In the face of new and emerging challenges—such as climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, and food and nutrition insecurity—Caribbean countries are strengthening collaborative effort which they hope would maximize their initiatives to further drive down poverty rates within fishing communities and improve food and nutrition security, while ensuring that they take advantage of modern technological avenues to add dollar-value to the fisheries resources that are a source of livelihood for nearly 200,000 fishers across the region.

It is in this vein that heads of national fisheries authorities from the seventeen (17) member states of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), as well as observers and partner agencies, will converge at the 12th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, the technical, advisory arm of the CRFM, on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at Fort Young Hotel in Roseau, Dominica.

  Honourable Dr. Kenneth Darroux, Dominica's Minister of the Environment, Natural Resources, Physical Planning and Fisheries, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address, at this auspicious gathering of fisheries managers and stakeholders from across the region.

 The Caribbean Fisheries Forum will discuss plans for the region to adopt the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy – a progressive legal instrument which is ready for endorsement by Caribbean Heads of Government.

The country representatives will also look at the advancement of the region in implementing the Castries (St. Lucia) Declaration on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, including the recent conclusion of a Prosecution Manual and the companion Standard Operating Procedure Manual for Caribbean states, and a regional strategy to strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance systems.

The Forum will be updated on the progress of technical activities being undertaken by the CRFM Secretariat, its member states and network partners. For example, the technical team will review the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), supported by the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, as well as joint action to strengthen the conservation and management of important fisheries such as the spiny lobster, queen conch and flyingfish.

Finally, they will formulate recommendations on the way forward, for consideration by the Ministerial Council, due to meet on May 23, 2014 in Dominica.

At the 11th Forum Meeting held in Barbados a year ago, the fisheries managers contributed greatly to the development of the newly adopted Information Communications Technology (ICT) Strategy for the CRFM, as well as the Independent Performance Review and Strategic Plan for 2013-2021 for the regional fisheries body.

CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton underscored the importance of the upcoming meeting of CRFM states and regional development partners.

"We will have thorough discussion on several key issues in fisheries and aquaculture and reach consensus on the way forward in improving the contribution fisheries make to the region's social and economic development," Haughton said. "We will review the progress made over the past year and discuss concrete initiatives to strengthen conservation and management of key fish species and ecosystems through cooperative actions, innovative development and value addition in the sector, as well as promote policy and institutional reforms and capacity-building initiatives to achieve sustainable growth of aquaculture and fisheries."

The CRFM Executive Director concluded by saying that "...this meeting will provide expert guidance and intellectual support to strengthen regional cooperation in fisheries in the coming years."



CRFM Secretariat, Belize City, Wed. 25 June 2014—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Secretariat in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, hosted the 10th Annual Scientific Meeting from June 10 to 17, 2014. Thirteen CRFM Member States: Anguilla, Belize, Grenada, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands, participated in this year’s meeting.

photo 2The meeting benefitted from technical support provided by Professor John Hoenig, Consultant, Professor of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science; Nancie Cummings, Fisheries Expert at US National Marine Fisheries Service; Professor Hazel Oxenford from the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies, UWI, Cave Hill campus; and Dr. Paul Medley, International Fisheries Consultant from the UK.

In its efforts to build the Caribbean's capacity for the statistical analysis of fisheries data, so as to improve on the information base available for informed fisheries management decisions, the Secretariat facilitated training for twelve persons under the activities of the CRFM Data, Methods and Training Working Group. This Working Group initiated efforts to identify and agree upon the ten most important commercial fisheries in the region to be analysed or assessed in the future, and for which the management performance will be monitored and evaluated on a regular basis.

The group also committed to updating national fisheries sampling plans to improve the quality of the data available for fisheries analyses and stock assessments in the coming years, and provided recommendations for further training and use of available ICT tools to share information on best practises in the use of statistical software for fisheries analyses.

Under the auspices of the Pelagic Fisheries and Reef and Slope Fisheries Working Groups, data were analysed for the scad fishery in Dominica, the dolphinfish fishery in St Lucia, the large pelagic fishery in Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines, the pelagic fishery in St Kitts and Nevis, the longline fishery in Trinidad and Tobago, the reef fishery in Anguilla, the needlefish fishery in Montserrat, the mutton snapper fishery in Belize, and the Queen Conch fishery in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The Reef and Slope Fisheries Working Group also developed specific weight conversion factors for the Queen Conch in Belize and the Bahamas, to fulfil trade requirements under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The Working Group intends to conduct further analyses in the inter-sessional period. It also reviewed and endorsed the 2013 assessment of the Pedro Bank (Jamaica) Queen Conch fishery and the respective, estimated total allowable catch, and it provided scientific inputs to a proposed draft regional declaration for the management, conservation and sustainable use of the spiny lobster.

photo 1Fisheries Working Group reviewed and endorsed the rules developed for management of the Guyana seabob fishery. The group considered specific measures to improve data collection and monitoring of the fishery, as well as to address issues of by-catch in trawl gear.

In support of Guyana’s attempts to boost trade through ‘sustainable fishery certification’ by the Marine Stewardship Council, the Continental Shelf 

Data collection, quality control, data preparation for analysis, and analytical methods were the general areas highlighted for attention during the inter-sessional period. Specific priority areas include improving the quality of regional data for the blackfin tuna, in support of the CRFM’s contribution to the 2015 stock assessment to be conducted by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas; improving data collection systems to facilitate the implementation of the Sub-regional Fisheries Management Plan for the Eastern Caribbean Flyingfish endorsed by the CRFM Ministerial Council on 23 May 2014; developing a data collection and information system for fisheries which use fish aggregating devices; and collecting and analysing data on the lionfish. Training of data collectors, improvements in national data collection programmes and stakeholder awareness building on the importance of data collection were other critical areas identified for attention.

Regional scientists, following the intensive one-week period, returned to their respective countries with a renewed sense of commitment and dedication to begin work during the inter-sessional period in preparation for next year’s scientific meeting. In keeping with international best practice, the outputs of the meeting will be posted on the CRFM’s website (www.crfm.int) and shared nationally and regionally with a range of stakeholders, including decision makers associated with the fishing industry.

photo 4

ROSEAU, Dominica, May 24 (CRFM)--Caribbean fisheries ministers have agreed on an urgent action plan by CARICOM’s Climate Change and Fisheries agencies to save Caribbean coral reefs – worth an estimated five billion dollars – in a bid to stem more than 100 million dollars in annual losses to the region's economy.

The ministers and officials on the Ministerial Council of the 17-nation Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) on Friday, May 23, 2014, endorsed a Regional Coral Reef Plan of Action at the council’s eighth meeting held here at the Fort Young Hotel.

diversMore than three-quarters of Caribbean coral reefs are either severely stressed or are close to dying, due to local threats, including pollution and sediment runoff, which make them less resilient to climate change and warming waters.

Research indicates that failure to reverse the current trend will lead to annual losses of US$95 - $140 million as more reefs lose the battle to provide a home for fisheries to spawn, protect shores from waves and storm surges, and provide tourist attractions.

It is estimated that the Caribbean’s coral reefs offer the region benefits totalling US$3.1 - $4.6 billion dollars annually.

star fishThe aim of the plan is to strengthen coordinated action to protect, conserve and manage the region’s important ecosystems, said CRFM’s executive director Milton Haughton.

Haughton told ministers and other senior government representatives from Anguilla, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and host country Dominica, that healthy coral reef ecosystems are critical to both the tourism and fisheries sectors and by extension, the livelihoods and well-being of coastal Caribbean communities and societies.

The preparation of the Regional Plan of Action was coordinated by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, with funding and technical assistance provided by the Government of Australia and Australian Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Speaking ahead of the signing of the plan of action by Chairman of the Belize-based CRFM, Haughton said: “The overall intention of these initiatives is to ensure that the living marine resources of the region are managed and protected in such a way that they are able to make optimum sustainable contribution to the region’s economic and social development.”

Speaking at the signing, Lydia Bezeruk, First Secretary in Development Cooperation with the Trinidad-based Australian High Commission, stressed the importance of engaging stakeholders and primary users of the reef.

“It is very difficult to convince someone who has responsibility for family, who may be poor, that it’s better to save something for the future,” she said. “So it’s really a case of trying to bring about the awareness and education but also providing them with alternative livelihoods. That was a particular strategy noted in the plan as well.”

The next stage of the plan is execution and Mr. Haughton said the current challenge is funding and capacity for implementation.

“The regional Climate Change Centre has been engaged with the Germans and we’re hoping to get some initial seed funding from them to begin implementing some aspects of this plan,” he said.

Immediate past chairman of the Ministerial Council, Barbados’ Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, suggested that the CRFM needs to reposition itself in order to cushion the impact of the current economic crisis facing the Caribbean.

“The challenge to the CRFM is to make sure it adapts to its present environment in order to succeed,” he said. “This will require thinking outside the box and hence adapting to this new environment will require change in the present structure and processes in order to be successful.”

Estwick suggested that the organisation embraces current technology to cut down on the cost of communications, build and reinforce partnerships, form and develop new linkages, source more funding for training, develop appropriate infrastructures, be more flexible, act as a change agent and be part of the decision-making process.

Dominica’s Minister of the Environment, Natural Resources, Physical Planning and Fisheries, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, who has succeeded Dr. Estwick as chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council, lauded the CRFM for its work.

“I must commend the CRFM Secretariat for doing a tremendous job,” he said.

 (Photos of divers and starfish courtesy ACP Fish II)

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