Thursday, September 6, 2012
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Pictured: Alfred Gray, chair of the CRFM’s Ministerial Council, and Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government of The Bahamas, signs the Belize Declaration on Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Central America Fisheries and Aquaculture Organisation (Spanish acronym OSPESCA) Cooperation for Sustainable Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources September 4. (BIS photo)
More than 60 high-level delegates from 19 countries spanning the Central American and Caribbean regions concluded a milestone meeting in Belize on September 4, with a comprehensive roadmap for collective action in tackling the biggest obstacles in fisheries and aquaculture.
The event was the first joint meeting to bring together so many countries to discuss the plight of shared marine resources and the uphill battle in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
One major outcome of the cross-regional meeting was the signing of the Belize Declaration on Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Central America Fisheries and Aquaculture Organisation (Spanish acronym OSPESCA) Cooperation for Sustainable Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources.
The CRFM and OSPESCA are the regional agents for the harmonization of fisheries management and development efforts across 24 states.
Milton Haughton, CRFM executive director, said: “The long-term objective of the partnership between the CRFM and OSPESCA is to secure a brighter and more prosperous future for our fishing communities that rely on the marine resources for their livelihoods, and ensuring that the fish stocks are able, through prudent management, to make enhanced contribution to the social and economic development of our countries now and in the future.”
Alfred Gray, chair of the CRFM’s Ministerial Council, and Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government of The Bahamas, said: “We are delighted to partnership in ensuring that countries around the Caribbean and indeed the Central and South American region have seen the wisdom of getting together and pooling resources in order to protect what we consider to be a very important part of our countries’ very existence.”
Gray expressed optimism that “bigger and better things” would come out of the Belize meeting.
“Out of this conference, I am hoping that each of us as countries, each of us as individuals, will be ready to take on the challenges which we face collectively in protecting that which we believe is so important for fisher folk and indeed our countries’ revenue resources.”
Haughton said that IUU fishing, which he described as “a serious global problem,” is fishing carried out in contravention of the rules for fisheries management, misreporting catches or not reporting at all, and the use of illegal fishing rear and illegal fishing techniques.
“Recent reports put the global value of catches taken by IUU fishing as high as $9 billion per year. IUU fishing does not respect national boundaries. It puts unsustainable pressure on fish stocks and marine habitats and distorts markets. It imposes significant economic costs on countries such as ours with limited capacity and it also corrupts and undermines governance structures. We must therefore redouble our efforts to eradicate the scourge of IUU fishing from our region.”
Haughton also spoke of the need for coordinated approaches for the conservation, management and sustainable use of trans-boundary fish stocks; namely tuna, lobster, and conch.
The 18 countries that signed the Belize declaration are: Anguilla, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, and Turks & Caicos.
Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti and Suriname were not represented by their ministers at the meeting and did not sign the declaration.