On 4 December 2020, CRFM’s Continental Shelf Fisheries Working Group (CSWG), supported by over 20 national, regional and international fisheries experts, commended both Guyana and Suriname for their organized approaches to sustainable management of the countries’ Atlantic seabob (shrimp) trawl fisheries. These seabob trawl fisheries are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which recognizes good standards in fisheries management practices. The MSC label gives Guyana’s and Suriname’s seabob products the competitive edge on the international market!
The regional peer expert group reviewed the progress made on management plans, with special attention being given to how the countries were addressing MSC conditions and recommendations, and piloting agreed new harvest control rules adopted in 2019. The countries were also commended for their active engagement with private sector partners for management cooperation, and with the regional and international NGO and donor communities for research support.
A strong commendation came from the National Coordinator for the REBYC-II LAC project in Suriname, Dr. Tomas Willems. Willems remarked that “It is great to see Suriname and Guyana working together on the management of their seabob fisheries, exchanging information and lessons learned, and jointly tackling research and stock assessment. Assuming that stocks of many more species are potentially shared among the countries of the Guianas - North-Brazil shelf, the seabob fishery provides an important example of how cross-border collaboration can look like in practice.”
During the review of 4 December, both Suriname and Guyana, were able to demonstrate well organized plans and approaches for guiding their seabob trawl fishery management activities. The two countries did highlight some delays and disruptions to their activities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic situation. The industry pointed out that the pandemic had affected its operations as well. The Working Group meeting heard that Suriname had to extend the pilot trial period for the harvest control rule to allow for more comprehensive evaluation of performance of the rule through the natural fluctuations of catches through time, that is, through both low and high seabob production months. Notwithstanding, the pilot trials had allowed Suriname to adjust and refine its systems and procedures for data and information management to cope with the monthly monitoring of catch rates and estimations of the harvest control rule index. The outputs were then used to determine if and by how much the industry would have to adjust its fishing effort levels over time. Guyana had not yet begun pilot trials of its harvest control rule, but indicated that such trials would begin in 2021.
During the review, some key issues of concern were raised in respect of the harvest control rule application and of the catch rate data. If the harvest control rule required industry adjustment actions, the time lag for action was 2 months, but the industry indicated that this time lag may in fact be too long. The Working Group recalled that the best available data and science were applied to the 2019 assessments, and also recalled that its 2019 meeting had identified certain additional data and information, which if made available, could help to improve the quality of the catch rate estimation and, in turn, the quality of seabob assessment results and associated harvest control rules.
In conclusion, the Working Group commended the countries for their planning, monitoring, and reporting efforts, and for the completed harvest control rule trials. The Working Group also agreed to convene a meeting early in 2021, which would devote attention to data and information improvements for the next full seabob stock assessment.
The Continental Shelf Working Group Meeting was chaired by CRFM’s Deputy Executive Director, Susan Singh-Renton. Singh-Renton noted that “In 2019, the CRFM responded to a request by both Guyana and Suriname for regional coordination and peer review of scientific assessments of the seabob shrimp stocks fished by their trawl fisheries. The scientific assessments were successfully facilitated by CRFM’s Continental Shelf Fisheries Working Group, which then also agreed to keep under review the implementation of agreed inter-sessional activities, and this work is ongoing. The inter-sessional activities have been planned to ensure that all the MSC conditions and recommendations are fully met”.
Photo Caption: Seabob trawler operating off the coast of Suriname (Photo Credit: Tomas Willems, National Coordinator for the REBYC-II LAC project in Suriname)
Click here to download a copy of the Press Release
 REBYC-II LAC project is the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation supported Project entitled, “Sustainable Management of Bycatch in Latin America and Caribbean Trawl Fisheries”
In September 2020, the CRFM entered into a 3-year collaborative agreement with Plant & Food Research, to address Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries. Plant & Food Research, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute, and the CRFM, an inter-governmental organization which promotes and facilitates the responsible utilization of the Caribbean's fisheries and other aquatic resources, are collaborating to explore the creation of new technologies and value chains from marine biomass, particularly the Sargassum seaweed.
The overall aim of the project is to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries through the creation of inclusive value chains for Sargassum seaweed.
The CRFM has produced a leaflet with further details. View it online below or download a PDF copy HERE.
BELIZE CITY, 3 APRIL 2020 (CRFM)—The vital need to enhance economic growth and sustainable development in the Caribbean by investing in the blue economy was the focus of a 2-day regional workshop held in Belize City, on 5-6 March 2020. The workshop was organized by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) in collaboration with the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to pave the way forward for a new US$46 million project titled, “Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities Through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus (BE: CLME+).” The CRFM, an inter-governmental CARICOM agency, is the executing agency for the 4-year project, which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with a grant of US$6.2 million and co-financing of US$40.1 million.
Government representatives from the six participating countries--Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama and Saint Lucia—attended the workshop, while other stakeholders participated remotely via tele-conference. Workshop participants are now working together with the CRFM and co-implementing agencies, CAF and FAO, supported by a consulting team of experts in marine spatial planning, marine protected areas, fisheries value chain and gender, to prepare the detailed project document and work plan. The workshop was also attended by representatives from several regional partners such as CERMES-UWI, SICA/OSPESCA from Central America, the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations and the UNDP/GEF CLME+ Project Coordinating Unit and CLME+ SAP Interim Coordination Mechanism.
“The BE: CLME+ project aims to overcome the barriers to achieving national, climate-resilient and sustainable fisheries in blue economies in the Caribbean,” Dr. Yvette Diei Ouadi, FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Officer and Secretary of Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission, said during the project’s Inception Workshop.
Dr. Lennox Gladden, Belize’s Chief Climate Change Officer, Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development, underscored the critical value of the BE: CLME+ project towards achieving sustainable economic development and improving resilience in the coastal zone, and the tourism and fisheries sectors, spurring vibrant growth and providing economic and social benefits to enhance the quality of life as envisaged in Belize’s national development policies and plans.
The project’s three components aim to ensure (i) cross-sectoral marine spatial planning; (iii) inclusive sustainable fisheries value chains; and (iii) regional coordination, project management and knowledge management. The intent is that by the end of the project, there would be marine spatial plans developed at both the regional and national levels, as well as blue economy strategies for the participating countries. Furthermore, the project will support the creation and expansion of areas that benefit from effective area-based management, such as marine management areas and marine protected areas that recognize the need for access from a range of stakeholders in a manner that reduces the risk of conflicts.
Mr. Milton Haughton, CRFM Executive Director, noted that, “Marine spatial planning is a tool to create and establish a more rational organization of the use of marine ecosystems and the interactions between their users and uses; to balance demands for economic growth and development with the need to protect the environment and to achieve social objectives in an open and planned way.”
The BE: CLME+ project is being designed by a team that is cognizant of the need for a participatory approach, sensitive to the challenges that now confront the region—ranging from climate change impacts, marine pollution and irresponsible fishing to the coronavirus COVID-19 disease. The team is committed to the need for social inclusion, participation of indigenous groups and gender mainstreaming.
Mrs. Luciana Fainstain, Executive of the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the Bank’s in-house Gender Specialist, acknowledged the need for the project to go beyond women’s issues, considering also the need to incorporate the new masculinities relevant to young men.
The project’s budget includes US$ 25 million in co-financing from the Development Bank of Latin America, to provide lines of credit through national financial institutions to support the development of fisheries value chains. In addition to marine spatial planning, another component of the project focuses on the development of sustainable seafood value chains, which could support innovations in utilizing current catches and discards to make more profitable products, ranging from consumer-friendly value-added seafood products for human consumption, to dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals and beauty products. The third project component focuses on knowledge management and dissemination of experiences and lessons learnt in support of the GEF-funded IW Learn Platform (https://iwlearn.net/) and CLME+ SAP.
The BE: CMLE+ participating countries are among the 32 countries and overseas territories that have endorsed the 10-year Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the sustainable management of shared Living Marine Resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+ region), which was developed under a previous GEF-funded project.
Mr. Haughton expressed gratitude to the countries and key partners which have been supporting the initiative and emphasized the need for continued strong partnerships and cooperation among all stakeholders in realizing the potential of the marine sector in the Caribbean.
BELIZE CITY, 4 MARCH 2020 (CRFM)—A new US$46 million initiative to promote Blue Economic priorities in the Caribbean, in support of the sustainable use and conservation of the region’s vast and diverse marine ecosystems and resources, gets underway with a two-day inception workshop on 5-6 March at the Best Western Plus Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City.
Marine ecosystems account for over 80 percent of CARICOM States and territories, supporting not just fisheries, but also tourism, ocean transportation, energy, and other economic pillars. They are also critical to the sustainable livelihoods of coastal communities and food security for markets even beyond their borders. Despite threats that confront the region—not the least of which are climate change, ocean acidification, marine pollution and irresponsible fishing—the Blue Economy model still holds great promise.
The current initiative, entitled “Blue Economy (BE): Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus (CLME+): Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus,” is a 4-year project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with a grant of US$6.2 million and co-financing of US$40.1 million. The Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) will be the lead implementing agency while FAO will be a co-implementing agency. The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will be the project executing agency. The GEF-funded “BE-CLME+ Project” will promote blue economy development in the Caribbean region through marine spatial planning and marine protected areas, the ecosystem approach to fisheries, and development of sustainable fisheries value chains.
The expected results of the project include focused climate-smart investments into national and regional marine spatial planning (MSP) efforts that inform development and implementation of national blue economy strategies. The multi-country project will also focus on extending or strengthening marine protected areas to preserve marine ecosystems and ensure sustainable livelihoods to coastal and fishery communities. The project is also expected to result in the establishment of a regional MSP for ecosystem-based fisheries, inclusive sustainable fisheries value chains, and new or expanded marine protected areas in at least five Caribbean countries. It will also support improvements in knowledge management, monitoring and evaluation, based upon knowledge and experiences from the project and experiences with climate-resilient blue economies from other regions and other Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters projects, in partnership with IW: LEARN (the GEF’s International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network).
The Inception Workshop, to be held on 5-6 March, will be attended by representatives of the six participating countries: Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama and Saint Lucia, as well as partner agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Development Bank of Latin America, SICA/OSPESCA, UWI-CERMES, JICA, UNDP-GEF CLME+ Project and the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisation (CNFO). Officials from the CRFM, CAF, FAO/WECAFC and the Belize Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development will address participants at the opening ceremony, to be convened at 9:00 a.m. on 5 March.
It is expected that at the conclusion of the workshop, the participating States and partners will have agreed on the main activities, milestones and timeline to develop the detailed project document and workplan for submission to the GEF for consideration by November 2020.
As part of the Caribbean Track of the Pilot Programme forClimate Resilience a series of ecological, economic and social assessmentsof climate change impacts on marine resources and the fisheries sector were undertaken between March 2018 and January 2019. This synthesis provides key conclusions arising from theassessment of (1) climate risks and ecological impacts for Caribbean marine fish stocks, (2) the economic consequences of ecosystem shifts and of increased tropical cyclone activity and (3) fisheries viability and resilience through the lens of value chains. Overall, multiple lines of evidence suggest large risk and impacts of climate variationon the Caribbean Sea’s fish stocks and fisheries. Economic assessment results suggest a large pre-existing “adaptation deficit”, as the estimated economic impacts of climate change appear smallrelative to documented lossesand damages under current climate conditions.. Research at two local fishing sites reveals opportunities to improve climate resilience across the seafood value chain by empowering resource users to self-organize and build local adaptive capacity, promoting seafood product differentiation and identifying enablers for governance effectiveness.Several improvements and extensions to the ecological and economic modelling undertaken under this project are possible and recommended; however, sufficient information from this and previous research is available to inform adaptation planning and targeted measures. Assessment results will form the basis of a communications campaign and monitoring and management recommendations undertaken as part of the project.
Click the attachment link below to download the document or view it online HERE.
It has been brought to our attention that constraints may be encountered in the submission of Proposals by physical mail, to reach the CRFM Secretariat in Belize by 8am Central Standard Time on 2 December 2019.
Against the above, kindly note the following option that can be used:
Submission of proposals by Electronic mail as follows:
All electronic submissions should reach the above email accounts by 8am Central Standard Time on 2 December 2019.
Note that hard copies of all proposals should still be sent by physical mail to the CRFM Secretariat in Belize. These should reach our office by 9 December 2019.
Title of the Request for Proposal (RfP):
Technical support to Mainstreaming Gender Equality in Fisheries in the Caribbean
Date of this RfP: 13 November 2019
Closing Date for Receipt of RfP: 8.00am Central Standard Time on 2 December 2019
RfP Reference: CLME/MGFC/01/19
SUMMARY OF THE ACTION
The purpose of this assignment is to provide technical support to mainstreaming gender equality in fisheries in the CARICOM / CRFM States. The main target countries for field activities are the CRFM Members (SIDS) involved in the flyingfish fisheries, namely, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The main deliverables expected are:
Click the attachment links for the full Request for Proposal.
CRFM has just published its latest Research Paper Collection (Volume 9) that tells us what the fisheries sector can expect from climate change – regional maps showing changes in our fish and shellfish populations, estimates of harder economic times, with less fish to catch, less money to make, and less fresh fish for the local consumer.
The scientists and advisors who guided these latest studies were on the ground in St. Lucia during 28 October – 1 November 2019 to train 14 Caribbean-based fisheries experts. The Training Workshop covered methods and tools for including climate change information into existing monitoring programmes, and for managing access and use of the information in meeting fisheries management needs.
Trainees came mostly from 5 countries and 2 regional agencies participating in the Investment Plan for the Caribbean Regional Track of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (CRT-PPCR), implemented by the Mona Office for Research and Innovation at the University of the West Indies with grant funding from the Climate Investment Fund through the Inter-American Development Bank.
The CRFM is co-implementing the marine sub-component of the Project, and the St. Lucia Workshop was part of an assignment intended to strengthen information and stakeholder knowledge about the ecological and socio-economic impacts of climate change, and to install a supporting monitoring system for maintaining the information and knowledge base. ESSA Technologies Ltd., an environmental science consulting firm based in Canada, has provided the under-pinning scientific expertise.
The training sessions were designed to build on priority areas agreed during earlier planning and technical consultation phases, and included training in a range of methods and tools, including: species distribution modelling; market fish supply-demand modelling; climate-intelligent monitoring for speaking to several “Big Questions’ that Caribbean fisheries managers would need to answer in addressing the extra challenge of climate change impacts; adaptation and marine spatial planning and decision-making, and; storage and access of data, information and knowledge products via a CRFM Portal arrangement.
By the end of the 5-day training session, the Caribbean trainees had also participated in various individual and group practice exercises that included: use of the freely available statistical software R, use of freely available geographical information system software (QGIS) for marine spatial planning applications, development of customized fisheries monitoring cards, role playing with adaptation planning scenario analyses, and use of the CRFM portal being developed for managing use of the data and information base. The training also touched on communication tools for achieving changes in behaviour of target groups.
When training ended, and participants were asked to evaluate the activity, the response was mostly a clear ‘thumbs up’. Hermione Elcock from Grenada (a project pilot country) confirmed that for the training, “Resources were relevant”, while Elizabeth Mohammed who participated as an observer from Trinidad and Tobago highlighted that the “Training approach was successful in targeting an audience of diverse knowledge, experience and skills”. Getting used to using ‘R’ presented the most challenge for trainees, but of course the training session time only allowed for an introduction to ‘R’, and follow up practice is expected.
Following the Workshop, two of the trainees shared some additional important reflections on the significance of what took place at this milestone PPCR Workshop.
Elizabeth Mohammed offered her congratulations to ESSA Technologies Ltd, the CRFM Secretariat and to the PPCR countries for delivering so comprehensively on this Project, remarking, “I am astounded at the quantity and quality of the outputs”. Ms. Mohammed went on to say that “In so far as quantifying the ecological and socio-economic impacts of climate change on fisheries at a scale that is useful for countries to make climate-resilient decisions - it is indeed the first time we have done this. We now have the basic tools and a standardized monitoring framework that will allow us to refine, repeat or upscale the analyses over time, and by this means, also to assess whether we are achieving the desired outcomes and how to adapt our strategies accordingly.”
Likewise, Junior Squire from Jamaica (a project pilot country), echoed the same sentiments and added also that “I do believe the CRFM Portal will provide the right medium to stimulate a culture change from one of hoarding to one of sharing information among Member States”.
Susan Singh-Renton, who is leading this work from the CRFM side, expressed her own satisfaction so far about the full range of work done under the present impact assessment and monitoring assignment, saying that “The CRT-PPCR has been very crucial for us in the fisheries sector to break out of a state of not knowing exactly where we are in fisheries relative to climate change impacts. When the fishermen are saying that they have to go farther and deeper to catch fish, we now have the science to prove them right and this is a game-changer!”
BELIZE CITY, FRIDAY, 4 OCTOBER 2019 (CRFM)—After several hours of deliberation at their Second Joint Meeting held in Belize on Wednesday, 2 October 2019, Fisheries Ministers from Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA) inked a milestone instrument. The “Declaration on CRFM-OSPESCA Cooperation for Sustainable Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources” signals their resolve to solidify the cooperation birthed at their first joint meeting held in Belize 7 years earlier, in 2012.
Among the agreed areas of cooperation are: monitoring and managing Sargassum blooms which have been adversely affecting the region since 2011; the control of invasive species, with emphasis on the Pacific lionfish; and the development of small-scale fisheries to ensure the protection of livelihoods and food security. The renewed alliance will also support the implementation of fisheries management plans for shared stocks, such as spiny lobster, queen conch and migratory pelagic species; programmes on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in fisheries and aquaculture; as well as ocean-based fisheries and aquaculture economic activities, including value chain development.
The CRFM and OSPESCA countries have, furthermore, pledged to develop coordinated positions on international processes, such as the listing of threatened and endangered species under CITES; fisheries subsidies negotiations led by the WTO; and the UN conference to develop a legally-binding agreement on conservation, management and sustainable use of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
Representatives from Grenada and Guatemala sign joint declaration (Photo: CRFM)
In signing the Joint Declaration, the Fisheries Ministers also approved the Second Joint CRFM-OSPESCA Action Plan (2020 to 2025), which is a 5-year roadmap to guide collaborative programmes and activities agreed in the declaration by the two sub-regional organisations.
Among the commitments made is that, “The CRFM and OSPESCA Secretariats and Member States will work together to strengthen cooperation to deter, prevent and eliminate IUU [Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated] fishing in the region.”
At the opening of the meeting, Keynote Speaker, Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s Minister of State with responsibility for Fisheries, said: “IUU Fishing is undoubtedly causing damage to our fish populations in our countries, and we must continue to actively identify and implement tangible and effective actions on a bilateral or sub-regional level to curb these illicit activities.”
Prior to the meeting with OSPESCA, the CRFM Ministerial Council held its 9th Special Meeting, at which it approved the Regional Plan of Action on IUU Fishing for the Western Central Atlantic region, with a commitment to developing a CARICOM-specific Action Plan. The Jamaican delegation pointed out to their counterparts that IUU fishing recently forced them to impose a moratorium on their conch fishery, resulting in multi-million-dollar losses for the country, its export sector and fishers. Their hope is that the collaboration with OSPESCA will help to effectively prevent and deter IUU fishing in Caribbean waters.
Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM Secretariat, added that, “It is the recognition that we share a common interest and a common destiny in the sustainable use and protection of the Caribbean Sea and its living marine resources and ecosystems that inspires and underpins the partnership that is developing between the Caribbean and Central American sub-regions in fisheries and aquaculture.”
Hon. Eugene Hamilton, Chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council and Minister Responsible for Fisheries in Saint Kitts and Nevis, said: “It is predicted that 90% of the world’s fish protein will come from aquaculture by 2050.” He, consequently, urged the countries, generally regarded as small island developing states and coastal states, to work together to develop aquaculture.
Norma Lobo, General Director for the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture, represented the Minister of Agriculture of El Salvador, Pro-Tempore Chairman of OSPESCA, at the meeting. In her brief remarks, she indicated that this was the first such meeting in which she has participated, and expressed her enthusiasm for learning more about the challenges faced by the region and, furthermore, working together to confront them.
Haughton expressed optimism that, “This growing strategic partnership between our countries, our fisheries institutions and our stakeholders in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, will yield tangible mutual benefit from our collective experience, expertise and cooperation in addressing the common challenges we face.”
The UNDP-GEF Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+) Project provided financial support to facilitate the convening of the meeting in Belize City, Belize. It has also been providing support to the CRFM, OSPESCA, FAO/WECAFC, UN Environment and other regional organisations to strengthen arrangements for improved governance and management of the fisheries resources and marine environment of the region.
Ministerial delegations from Caribbean and Central American countries to discuss strategic actions for the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector
Belize City, Monday, 30 September 2019 (CRFM)—Ministerial Fisheries delegations from countries across the Caribbean and Central America will converge in Belize this week for high-level talks aimed at solidifying partnerships at the political level, as well as setting out priority areas for attention and mutual cooperation.
On Tuesday, 1 October 2019, the CRFM will convene the Ninth Special Meeting of its Ministerial Council, the chief decision-making arm of the inter-governmental CARICOM agency. A priority item on the agenda of the CRFM meeting is a regional plan of action to combat Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The Caribbean Ministers will also discuss international issues important to Member States, such as the World Trade Organization negotiations on Fisheries Subsidies.
Following the CRFM Ministerial Meeting, on Wednesday, 2 October 2019, the CARICOM delegations will dialogue with their counterparts from Central America during their second joint high-level meeting. The first ministerial meeting of CRFM and the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA) was hosted on 3-4 September 2012 in Belize, a member of both sub-regional organizations.
On the agenda of the upcoming CRFM- OSPESCA meeting are pressing issues that confront both sub-regions. High on the agenda are IUU fishing; climate change and disaster risk management; blue economic growth; and the sustainable use, management and conservation of key species such as queen conch, lobster, pelagic species, sharks and reef fishes.
The Fisheries sector is one of the important employers across our region (Photo: CRFM)
CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said: “The aim of our meeting is to strengthen regional cooperation and integration initiatives to improve implementation of our respective fisheries policies and address the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; in particular, Sustainable Development Goal 14 on Oceans and Seas. We are enhancing our partnership to make progress on some of the big issues regarding sustainable development and conservation of fisheries and aquaculture in the region and in our national economies by enhancing food and nutrition security, providing jobs and livelihoods, and improving trade and resilience of fishing communities to climate change and related hazards.”
The parties – CRFM and OSPESCA – intend to update their 2012 Joint Plan of Action, setting out the specific priority areas of cooperation over the next five years. It is also expected that a Ministerial Declaration addressing areas of common interest and charting the way forward for collaborative action will be concluded and signed by participating Ministers.
Belize City, Friday, 30 August 2019 (CRFM)—The CRFM Continental Shelf Fisheries Working Group (CSWG) convened a meeting during 20-22 August in Georgetown, Guyana, to review the status and management of Atlantic Seabob (a commercially important shrimp) Fisheries of Guyana and Suriname. Both fisheries are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which means that they are recognized across the globe as sustainably managed. The MSC certification is associated with certain standards of best fisheries management practices, and places the countries in a strong position to maintain and expand trade with lucrative markets. The CRFM working group meeting supported the countries to fulfill specific technical conditions set by the MSC.
According to Rob Banning, project manager at Parlevliet & Van der Plas Group, “The meeting, under the CRFM umbrella, was unique as it brought together all relevant stakeholders (public officials, industry, NGOs and scientists) and provided a foundation for fruitful international cooperation between Guyana and Suriname.” Yolanda Babb-Echteld, of the Fisheries Department of Suriname and Chairperson of Suriname’s Seabob Working Group, echoed similar sentiments, noting further that “Suriname and Guyana share the same large marine ecosystem, and hence fisheries characteristics. Hence, the meeting allowed the two countries to learn from each other’s MSC experiences.”
The CRFM working group meeting carefully considered available data, information and knowledge on seabob biology, and on the historical development of fishing operations in order to agree on the most plausible stock assessment model for determining seabob stock status. The technical experts also gave attention to different fishing effort measures that could be applied in a Harvest Control Rule for each country’s fishery.
After finalizing these key elements, the meeting considered steps to strengthen the scientific base for management actions. On this, there was strong support for better scientific understanding of seabob’s overall ecological role, and of fishery-ecosystem/environment interactions and impacts. In terms of broadening the information base, Hanneke Vanlavieren of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) indicated that WWF’s contribution included “Creating an on-board ETP (Endangered, Threatened and Protected) species identification guide to track ETP species by-catches, training fishermen to identify ETP species, and improvement of data collection sheets for ETP by-catch.”
A widespread call was made for continued, formal collaboration between the countries, via focused annual meetings. Randy Bumbury, of Guyana’s Fisheries Department and Chairperson of Guyana’s Seabob Working Group, welcomed the call for an annual meeting, saying that “The meeting highlighted the importance of Guyana and Suriname collaborating more in the future to tackle challenges and support each other in ensuring sustainability of the seabob fisheries. This is a long term process which will achieve sustainability of these fisheries in the face of wider environmental issues such as climate change.” And Tomas Willems, Fisheries expert of FAO ReBYCII-LAC project based in Suriname, also supported the idea, saying that “Both countries now have a MSC certified seabob fishery which requires close monitoring and in which mutual exchange will be beneficial to see how to tackle certification conditions and recommendations to continue improving the fishery's sustainability.”
Among the immediate next steps agreed was for CRFM to convene an electronic Scientific Meeting on Atlantic Seabob to review the final assessment and stock status findings, and the Harvest Control Rule for industry control. Paul Medley, the international fisheries assessment expert charged with the seabob assessment modelling work, said that “This type of co-operation is laudably meeting Suriname and Guyana's responsibilities under international obligations, and sets a good example for other states in the region. The meeting would encourage further co-operation in all scientific, management and enforcement issues of mutual interest.”The Continental Shelf Working Group Meeting was chaired by CRFM’s Deputy Executive Director, Susan Singh-Renton, who reflected on the meeting’s achievements, saying “It is pleasing for the CRFM to make its contribution towards the partnership effort between Guyana and Suriname aimed at sustainable seabob trawl fisheries management and MSC certification. The target-oriented approach of the meeting allows the CRFM to re-introduce its scientific meeting in a way that meets industry needs more immediately.”