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Caribbean Network Meeting

15th November 2011 : ACP Fish II NETWORKING MEETING AND RECEPTION IN KINGSTON, JAMAICA

The workshop was attended by  80 participants from 14 CARICOM countries representatives at the highest levels of Government, EU delegation, representatives from Regional Organizations (CARICOM Secretariat, CRFM Secretariat, OECS Secretariat, FAO, UWI, and the regional fishermen organization), and key stakeholders representing the fisheries sector in Jamaica.

One of the projects funded by ACP Fish II  featured at the Network Meeting was the Draft Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy. The initiative to prepare a Common Fisheries Policy began at the Fourteenth Inter-Sessional Meeting of Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in 2003. To date, the Draft Agreement has been accepted by the CRFM Ministerial Council and has been passed to the CARICOM Legal Affairs Committee for consideration.

The meeting was divided into four sections:

1. Welcome address to the ACP Fish II Programme Network Meeting and the Programme Monitoring and Training Workshop

  • Chairperson: Dr. Marc Panton (Chief Technical Director, MoAF)
  • ACP Fish II Programme: Ms. Sandra Grant (Regional Manager)
  • European Union delegation in Jamaica: Mrs. Helen Jenkinson (EU, Charge d’Affaires),
  • CRFM Secretariat :Mr. Milton Haughton (Executive Director Designate)
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries : Mr. Donovan Stanberry (PS, MoAF)

2.  Presentation and discussion on the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy.

  • CARICOM Secretariat, General Council (Ag.), Ms. Safiya Ali
  • CRFM Secretariat,  Mr. Milton Haughton (Executive Director Designate)
  • Country perspective, JAMAICA: Mr. G. Andre Kong (Director of Fisheries),
  • Country perspective, COMMONWEALTH OF DOMINICA,  Mr. Harold Guiste (Senior Fisheries Officer)
  • Fishermen perspective, Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations (CNFO), Mr. Mitchell Lay
  • The meeting was chaired by Mr. Earl Moxam, Journalist

3. Questions and answers

4. The conference and debate was followed by a reception were participants had the opportunity to network and discuss informally. Local and regional media fully covered the event allowing the Programme to reach stakeholder and public awareness.

 Important interventions:

“The Draft Agreement Establishing the CCCFP has now been submitted to CARICOM, through the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) for formal endorsement.  Once any outstanding issues are resolved, the COTED will recommend that the Draft Agreement by reviewed by the CARICOM Legal Affairs Committee which will then forward the Policy for the consideration and signature by Heads of Government”, advised Ms. Safiya Ali, Acting General Counsel of the CARICOM Secretariat.

 The Policy further sets the framework and key principles for the culturing and harvestingof fisheries as derived from the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and other international obligations.  “It sets standards for regulation, licensing and management at the national level with a view to achieving harmonisation of legislation and practices.  This brings the fisheries sector in line with treaty provisions in relation to trade policy and provides the basis for future elaboration of a community-managed regime”, said Ms. Ali.

 Collective Responsibility Needed

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has been established as the competent agency to implement the common policy and co-ordinate as well as promote the regional development and management of fisheries.  Speaking at the Network Meeting, the CRFM’s Executive Director Designate lauded the European Union’s support for regional efforts as he called on Caribbean states to rise to the challenge of putting in the requisite policies, laws and regulations to protect and utilise fisheries resources.

 “Within the Caribbean it is widely accepted that existing policy, legal and institutional framework are out-dated and inadequate to deal with today’s complex issues and challenges in fisheries.  At this time, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize along with Jamaica as well as Trinidad and Tobago are at fairly advanced stages in the process of updating their national fisheries legislation”, mentioned Mr Milton Haughton of the CRFM.

 This commitment to Caribbean integration for the protection of its economic zone was reaffirmed by the European Union Charge d’ Affaires, Mrs Helen Jenkinson.  According to Mrs Jenkinson, this support has been demonstrated not only for the EU’s backing of the ACP Fish II Programme but,additionally providing financial aid for climate change and watershed management and mangrove forests among further efforts to support fisheries.

 “The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has looked at sanitary standards in the context of trade.  Fish exporters can also consider that area for additional support to get technical backing and information on standards supported by the EU”, said Mrs Jenkinson.

 Also giving support for the CommonFisheriesPolicy is the Caribbean Network for Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO) that represents fishers in the region.Mr Mitchell Lay, Coordinator for the CNFOis very pleased to be a part of the development of the Policy as the contributions of fishers across the region has been assimilated.  “This is a result of being integrated within the governance structure of national organisationsto provide a united front for networking, representation and capacity building at the regional level for marketing and trade”, commented Mr Lay.

 Providing another Caribbean perspective was Mr Harold Guiste, Acting Chief Fisheries Officer from the Commonwealth of Dominica.  According to Mr Guiste, Caribbean member states need each other to manage the challenges of marine and ocean management in order to survive as island states as seen in the benefits from the commonfisheries surveillance zone now operating in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and, which needs to be duplicated in the wider Caribbean. 

 Jamaica’s Director of Fisheries, Mr Andre Kong agrees with his colleagues that the Common Fisheries Policy confirms the commitment of member states to address the issues identified in the Policy and provides the opportunity for the mobilisation of resources for national and regional projects.   “Additionally, the Policy provides the Caribbean with one voice on the world stage to tackle the critical issues that affect CARICOM members states such as survival and safety at sea and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU)”, said Mr Kong.