Heads of national fisheries authorities from the seventeen (17) Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), as well as observers and partner agencies, are attending the 13th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum in Grenada this week. The representatives will review the status of fisheries and aquaculture in the region and chart the roadmap for enhancing their contribution to national and regional development.

CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, said, “The fisheries and aquaculture sector is playing an increasing role in food and nutrition security, as well as the provision of income and livelihoods for the people of the Caribbean.”

The 13th Meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum opened at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, March 30 at the Flamboyant Hotel in St. George’s, Grenada. It will conclude on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

The Forum is the arm of the CRFM which provides technical and scientific leadership to the organization. It also provides advice to the CRFM Ministerial Council on regional actions for sustainable development and conservation of the resources.

At its upcoming meeting, the Forum is expected to review and finalize the latest version of the regional lobster declaration and recommend its approval by the Ministerial Council, when it meets in Grenada in May 2015. This is an agreement to promote harmonized regional actions to ensure the sustainability and conservation of spiny lobster resources, and to protect its habitats and ecosystems against the threats of irresponsible fishing, habitat degradation, and climate change and related adverse impacts.

Apart from advancing the regional spiny lobster declaration, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum will review and refine the plan of action for the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP) – a regional agreement for the conservation, management and sustainable utilization of fisheries and aquaculture resources.

The Forum will also review activities in CRFM states to achieve the sustainable management and use of fisheries resources (including flying fish, tunas and other tuna-like species), the sustainable development of aquaculture, and adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management in the sector.

The CRFM is an inter-governmental organization of Caribbean states, namely Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The CRFM’s goal is to establish appropriate measures for the conservation, management, sustainable utilization and development of fisheries resources and related ecosystems. It also works to strengthen the skills of fishers across the region, as well as to optimize the social and economic returns from the fisheries sector. Finally, the CRFM promotes competitive trade and stable market conditions.

The fisheries sector in the CARICOM / CARIFORUM region employs over 182,000 persons, directly or indirectly. These fishers are mostly from rural communities that lack other income-earning opportunities.