BELIZE CITY, Belize (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 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 in Roseau, Dominica.
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 that 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.”
He concluded by saying, “...this meeting will provide expert guidance and intellectual support to strengthen regional cooperation in fisheries in the coming years.”