Caribbean Ministers Adopt Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Agenda
21 June 2012: The Ministerial Council overseeing the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) agreed to sharpen the focus of CRFM to improve the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture in the region.
The Council held its sixth meeting on 15 June 2012, in Nassau, The Bahamas, to discuss the development of a regional strategy and action plan regarding disaster management and the impact of climate change on Caribbean fishing communities, along with steps to better mitigate impacts on local marine resources.
The Council received and endorsed the recommendations of: a regional study on poverty in Caribbean fishing communities done with technical support from the Government of Spain; and of a study for a master plan for the sustainable use of coastal resources prepared with technical support from the Government of Japan.
The Ministers created two new working groups: one on aquaculture to examine the expansion of aquaculture development (including mariculture) in the Caribbean; and a second on the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), to better coordinate the participation of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries in ICCAT's work for the sustainable management of tuna and tuna-like species.
The Council urged member States to strengthen the implementation of international fisheries instruments and their national legislation regarding illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. They called upon member States to review possible implementation of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing.
The Council underscored the need for coordinated regional action to control the negative impacts of the lionfish, an invasive species, on Caribbean marine ecosystems and fish stocks, and to address the negative impact on regional fishing of inundation of Caribbean waters and coastline of Sargassum seaweed. Member States were urged to monitor the seaweed growth closely and take precautionary steps to minimize disruption to fisheries and other economic activities in coastal zones.
The Council also welcomed the offer by FAO to assist in a performance review of CRFM and in preparing a new Strategic Plan to guides its work over the next ten years.
The CRFM is an intergovernmental organization based in Belize City, Belize, created by CARICOM in 2003 "to promote and facilitate the responsible utilization of the region's fisheries and other aquatic resources." Its 17 member States are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. [CRFM Press Release]