BELMOPAN: The Belize-based Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) says the region is closer to adopting a fisheries policy which it describes as a progressive agreement for the cooperative management of shared fisheries resources in the Caribbean.
It said advocacy, awareness-building strategy and effective use of in-country mechanisms to facilitate adoption of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP) by the CARICOM leaders were the main agreements emanating from a three-day meeting in Dominica last week.
“The policy is a progressive agreement for the co-operative management of shared fisheries resources in the region and many of the principles, goals and objectives of the CCCFP are already integrated into the activities of the CRFM whose mandate includes concentrating on efforts to develop related protocols to harmonize various systems critical to a regional approach to fisheries management systems,” the CRFM said in a statement.
CRFM executive director Milton Haughton said the recent meeting was of particular historical significance to the region, noting that the first sub-regional fisheries management plan (FMP) to facilitate co-operation in the conservation, management and sustainable use of the flying fish resources shared among countries in the Eastern Caribbean was endorsed by the Forum.
“This action paves the way for a new era of fisheries management in the region,” said Haughton. “One that engages stakeholders in the management decision-making process and utilizes a holistic approach that considers human well-being, ecosystem and governance issues.”
He said the FMP will be presented to the Ministerial Council for endorsement at its next meeting scheduled for May 23 and formalized through signature of an accompanying Resolution by the Flying fish Ministerial Sub-Committee.
Other concerns discussed at the meeting include the impacts of climate change and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as well as initiatives to improve fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance and to foster regional cooperation in the management of the region’s flying fish, lobster and queen conch fisheries resources and related ecosystems.
The Forum reviewed a Draft Declaration on the conservation, management and sustainable use of the Spiny Lobster which is to be updated with recent scientific information and inputs from stakeholder consultations by Member States through the CRFM Fisheries Working Group before submission to the Ministerial Council for approval.
The CRFM statement also said a similar declaration for harmonization of regional management strategies for the Queen Conch is to be prepared, based on the outputs of an EU-funded Project under the ACP Fish II Program to improve and harmonize the scientific approaches required to inform sustainable management of the species in the region.