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Minister of Agriculture,??Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick. (FP)

The recently appointed chairman of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Barbados’ Minister of Agriculture,??Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, has urged fellow Caribbean ministers to place special emphasis on the implementation of policies and recommendations in the fishing industry.

His comments came during the 7th Ministerial Council of the CRFM, held recently in Barbados, at the Accra Beach Resort.

He said: "An area where focus is definitely needed is the implementation of policies and recommendations in a much more timely manner.?? We have seen tardiness to this end in the implementation of policy decisions from the Ministerial Council.?? One such policy that readily comes to mind is the Castries Declaration in Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated [IUU] fishing and the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy."

Dr. Estwick emphasised that efforts must be placed on implementation if sustainable development, and the conservation and management of fisheries resources are to be achieved.

"Implementation will definitely encourage change-even though change may be unsettling to some," he said.??

On Friday, May 31, Dr. Estwick assumed the chairmanship of the CRFM Ministerial Council from Bahamas’ Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government, V. Alfred Gray.

The Bahamian Minister said: "The Ministerial Council has a critical role to play in shaping the direction of this organisation as a whole, not just in terms of decision-making… but to ensure that our various countries’ directorates are fully aware of the importance of this organisation and that we do, as ministers, all that we can to be steadfast advocates, as we seek to strengthen the organisation and the processes which would lead to successes of our various countries’ efforts."

The Ministerial Council charts the policies of the CRFM.?? It is also responsible for providing leadership to the organisation in the areas of research; fisheries management and conservation; approval of strategic plans, and policy positions, work plans and budgets, as well as fisheries cooperative agreements, and donor projects.

The recently concluded meeting approved an unprecedented number of regional policy documents aimed at improving conservation, protection and sustainable use of the region’s fisheries.

The Ministers endorsed the CRFM’s Second Strategic Plan, which was prepared after extensive consultations with stakeholders and member states. The new plan follows a comprehensive review of the CRFM by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) experts, and it is the first such review undertaken since the CRFM’s inception in 2002.

The Ministers have also endorsed a regional strategy and action plan to address climate change and disaster risk management in fisheries and aquaculture.

CRFM’s Executive Director, Milton Haughton, noted that the region would become more vulnerable in the future.

??"The negative effects of climate change and climate variability on marine ecosystems and fisherfolk in coastal communities are already evident, and according to the experts, the situation would probably only get worse in the coming years.

"Our fishers, our fish farmers and our fishing communities, particularly those in the coastal areas, are vulnerable to disasters arising from numerous natural and manmade threats, including the recurrent tropical storms and hurricanes during the hurricane season," he added.

Mr. Haughton said that the CRFM was able to secure technical assistance from the FAO for the development of a regional strategy and action plan, and a project proposal for disaster risk adaptation, which the Ministerial Council also endorsed.

"This will pave the way for climate-proofing and protecting the vulnerable fishing communities and their livelihoods, and to build ecosystem resilience into our fish and aquaculture management policies at the national and local levels," he noted.

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) was officially inaugurated on March 27, 2003, in Belize City, Belize, which currently serves at its headquarters.????

aisha.reid@barbados.gov.bb

Author: CRFM/ Aisha Reid

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