Ministers of government responsible for fisheries from every country in the Caribbean and the Central American region met in Belize today to iron out a joint plan on how to move their industry forward.

This meeting is part of the third day of a week of planned meetings organized under the CARICOM Agriculture Planners forum. We spoke to the executive director of the region's fisheries mechanism to hear more about the specific challenges being addressed in today's meeting.

Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the caribbean regional fisheries mechanism
"Today we are having a joint meeting between the ministers responsible for fisheries and aquaculture from the caribbean regional fisheries mechanism, CARICOM countries, and our counterparts in Central America. That is the fisheries organization that's called OSPESCA. So we have representatives from the Central America countries and from the Caribbean countries here. We're discussing a wide range of issues related to sustainable development and management of the marine and fisheries resources and aquaculture in our member states. These resources are very very important they have been for food security, for jobs, employment, livelihoods, they have contributed to the very important tourism sector and also for generating trade and earning very important foreign exchange for our countries."

"At the end of the day we hope to arrive at a joint action plan setting out the priority activities and the modalities for cooperation to realize these activities and to make sure that we derive the benefits that we are seeking from these resources."

Omar Figueroa, Minister of State
"We can no longer continue to look at these challenges individually by country we have to understand the regions how the fisheries operates and if we want to be successful at sustainable management of these resources we need to tackle it from the regional perspective. So that's what we're doing here today. Belize is extremely excited because we have some key issues on the agenda like illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, we have the lobsters fisheries. We're trying to develop a regional plan for that we have the conch fishery two of our main fishery industries that are on the agenda to be discussed so I think that we are looking forward to a fruitful discussion today and at the end of the day I think Belize would have benefited tremendously."

Eugene Hamilton, Chair of CRFM
"We must also address ourselves also to the challenges of climate change where we have more and more hurricanes, we have only to look as far as the Bahamas where we had such a significant loss in that particular region."

"As long as we have this important frank discussion we believe that what will be published this afternoon or this evening will represent what both regions acknowledge are the important issues to deal with."

Reinaldo Morales Ruiz, Regional director, OSPESCA
"The Caribbean sea is a very important area for the development of the countries here we have the same species in fisheries and aquaculture and we know that it is very important to have good use of these resources."

"For this second meeting we have continued to work with CRFM in attending to the decision of the president of CARICOM and SICA integration system. We have the development of the same species and to put in practice the regional planning for the management also with the lobsters, conch, and to the different fisheries here. We are also studying and working to eliminate, deter, and prevent IUU fishing. This is very important. Also we have to continue to work to decontaminate areas for example plastic and Sargassum is a very important topic we have agreed to work together. I think it's a important ---- for the region, for the collaboration, and also we have the same areas for the development."

The CARICOM Agriculture Planners Forum began on Monday September 30th and will conclude on Friday October 4th.

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