Regional Project Seeks Strengthening of Fisheries Regulations

A regional project inclusive of CARICOM member states seeks to strengthen fisheries food safety regulations. The purpose is for the Caribbean to be able to access the international markets for fishery products such as conch, fish, lobster and shrimp. Along with the Belize Agricultural Health Authority and the Fisheries Department, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism is hosting a consultation workshop in Belize through the European Development Fund Programme on the implementation of Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures. One of the three consultants working on the project is Christopher Hedley from Globe Law Group Limited. Hedley says that Belize is in really good form when compared to other Caribbean countries and is meeting the standards to export to the EU.

Christopher Hedley, Consultant, Globe Law Group Ltd.

“The international markets for fisheries products are becoming more and more challenging to access. The European Union for example has very strong requirements for you to be able to send your products there, but even beyond that, consumers in the European Union have very strong requirements as well and often the challenges for importers from countries like Belize is not only to meet the regulations in the European Union, but also to meet the demands of customers. We want to make sure that the products are safe and healthy, but also that they can prove that to their customers. So we need to not only meet these standards, but demonstrate that we can meet these standards. So it is important to have regulation and an administration, which can certify that the products are healthy and that they are being produced in an environmentally-friendly way and a sustainable way.”

Christopher Hedley

Duane Moody

“Sir, looking at Belize and the framework that we have in place, is it anywhere close to where you guys see the standard needs to be at?”

Christopher Hedley

“Yes, it is there already…as is in most countries. It is not really a problem in most of the countries at the moment because if you don’t meet the standards to export to the EU, they won’t accept your products. Belize is on that sort of accepted list of countries that can export to the EU and it does export to the EU; it is meeting its requirements. And you got a very strong system in Belize; you got a lot of organizations involved that are competent and can do it. So we are not here to address a particular problem in Belize or in any other countries. We are here to ensure that in the future we are even more competitive, we can sell even more products and we can continue always to meet the challenges because the rules change all the time, the consumer preferences change all the time. And so you have to adapt, it is costly to adapt, it is difficult to adapt and we think we can offer some insight on how that can be done in a slightly more efficient way.”

The consultation is being held under the theme, “Position CARIFORUM to Fish Where the Big Fish Are.”

Channel 5