A number of recommendations aimed at boosting production in the fisheries and aquaculture sector as well as risk insurance for fisheries will be submitted to the 12th meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) to be held in Montserrat next month.
CRFM executive director, Milton Haughton, said the time has come for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries “to pay more careful attention and make the investments necessary to protect and fully utilize our coastal and ocean resources for sustainable development”.
The CRFM said that the recommendations going before the May 18th meeting had been drawn up at the just concluded annual meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum (CFF) held in Montserrat.
It said that the CFF’s recommendations also include measures to deal with the ongoing challenges to fisheries subsidies, gender mainstreaming, and the development of critical fishery management plans.
“The Forum noted that the overall trend in total marine fish production of the CRFM member states since 2005 is one of increasing production, with continued improvements over the 2015-2016 period. However, the region is a net importer of fisheries products,” the CRFM noted.
The latest data indicate that imports for the year 2016 totalled US$281.5 million, while exports were valued at US$256.2 million.
“Concerns were expressed that there are still gaps in the data and the Forum stressed the need for Member States to continue improving upon the collection and sharing of fisheries data, including trade data, in order to foster greater understanding and to strengthen management and development of the regions fisheries and aquaculture resources.”
CRFM said that the meeting also discussed a series of fisheries management plans, including those for the Blackfin Tuna and the Caribbean Billfish, as well as management plans for the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs).
It said these regional plans are aimed at improving cooperation among countries to ensure effective conservation, management and sustainable use of the fisheries and to protect the marine ecosystems.
“Another important regional development relates to the introduction of co-management arrangements for specific fisheries, including FADs and fish pot fisheries in the Eastern Caribbean States that participated in the Japanese-funded Caribbean Fisheries Co-management (CARIFICO) Project.”
The CFF reviewed the outcome of the project and future steps for continued improvements on co-management and participatory approaches to achieve sustainable and profitable fisheries in the region.
The importance of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management plans to reduce vulnerability and improve resilience in the fisheries sector was also an agenda item.
“Among the key initiatives currently underway are the establishment of an early warning system for fishers using a mobile app, and the development of insurance policies. There are two separate insurance products being developed: one is a sovereign parametric policy which would be available for purchase by governments and the other is a basic livelihood protection policy for purchase by individual small-scale fishers,” the CRFM said.
The United States-sponsored Caribbean Oceans and Aquaculture Sustainability Facility (COAST) is being developed by the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility Segregated Portfolio Company (CCRIF SPC) in collaboration with the World Bank, CRFM and other partners.
The COAST insurance policy is intended to serve as a platform for innovative financing to address food and livelihood security and climate change. Incentives would be given through the risk insurance policy to implement measures that contribute to sustainable and climate resilient fisheries management and disaster risk reduction.
CRFM said that the recommendations emanating from the CFF “were developed in order to protect the region’s fisheries resources from the threat of overexploitation and emerging threats such as climate change and warming oceans”.
It said they were also aimed at enhancing the livelihoods, social welfare and wealth creation from the marine resources.