BELIZE CITY, Belize -- Belize will host a historic, high-level ministerial meeting that will see as many as 25 countries from two regional fisheries organizations -- tasked to promote cooperation and policy coordination in addressing trans-boundary fisheries matters -- convene in Belize City, from Monday, September 3 to Tuesday, September 4, 2012, as they chart a comprehensive course for future collaborative action.
The joint meeting will bring together 17 CARICOM member and associated member states of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), and 7 members of the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA), joined by the Dominican Republic as an associate member.
“The similar mandates and objectives of both organizations highlight the potential benefits of sharing scientific knowledge and experiences related to research, resource management, and policy coordination in fisheries and aquaculture development,” CRFM organizers said.
They added, “Strengthening collaboration between these two regional fisheries organizations would improve conservation, management and sustainable development of the shared living marine resources of the Caribbean Sea.”
Belize, the host country for the CRFM Secretariat, is the common link between CRFM and OSPESCA: it is the only country that has membership in both regional bodies, and it has been charged with playing a key role in leading this process forward.
In a joint declaration, heads of state and government of both Central American and Caribbean countries that met at the 3rd CARICOM-SICA Summit in San Salvador, El Salvador, last August, called on Belize to host the first high-level ministerial meeting of CRFM-OSPESCA, aimed at strengthening collaboration between both regional fisheries organizations.
"Belize as a country is best positioned to bring the member countries of OSPESCA and CRFM together to discuss issues related to the development and management of the fisheries sector,” said Belize’s Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Lisel Alamilla. “We share a common resource in the Wider Caribbean region and therefore must foster a common understanding for cooperation in the responsible development of this sector, in maintaining its place as a significant contributor to our national economies and in the livelihoods of our people.”
Alamilla also underscored the region’s commitment to the further development of its fisheries and coastal resources for the greatest benefits of citizens.
The participants of the upcoming high-level meeting will discuss pressing matters such as fisheries and aquaculture development across all 25 states; illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing; climate change impacts on marine ecosystems and fishing communities; and a coordinated approach to the management of the lionfish and other invasive marine.
The first day of the meeting will center on technical discussions by vice-ministers/permanent secretaries and directors of fisheries/chief fisheries officers from the CARICOM and SICA member states. Participants will develop a statement of outcome, identifying priority areas and modalities for strengthening the partnership and advancing the interests of the CARICOM and SICA member states.
On the second and final day of the event, the ministers responsible for fisheries will review and adopt the statement of outcome. More specifically, the ministers will develop an action plan and strategy for the new CRFM-OSPESCA collaboration.
Participants will advance discussions on common interests between CRFM and OSPESCA in fisheries and aquaculture and will furthermore formulate and formalize a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to solidify the CRFM-OSPESCA collaboration.
Observers from interested regional and international organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the University of the West Indies (UWI), Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Project (CLME), and the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations (CNFO), have been invited to attend this milestone event.