At the end of a 3-day forum of CARICOM leaders, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) emphasised that the region was closer to adopting the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP), which will focus on the cooperative management of shared fisheries resources in the Caribbean.
The Executive director of the CRFM said that the meeting was “of particular historical significance to the region”. Many objectives of the CCCFP were already taken into account in CRFM actions to foster regional cooperation in the management of the region’s resources, such as the flying fish, lobster and queen conch fisheries resources and related ecosystems.
CRFM informed that the first sub-regional fisheries management plan for the conservation, management and sustainable use of the flying fish – a resource shared among eastern Caribbean countries – had been approved at the forum. This fisheries management plan will now be presented to the Ministerial Council for endorsement, and formalised through signature of an accompanying resolution by the flying fish ministerial sub-committee.
The forum also reviewed a draft fisheries management plan on spiny lobster, which is to be updated with recent scientific information and inputs from stakeholder consultations, before submission to the Ministerial Council for approval. A similar declaration for the queen conch is to be prepared, based on the outputs of an EU-funded project under the ACP Fish II Programme to improve and harmonise the scientific approaches required to advise on sustainable management of the species in the region.
The CRFM also emphasised the importance that has been given in the whole process to engage stakeholders and adopt a “holistic approach that considers human well-being, ecosystem and governance issues”.
Ultimately, the CRFM efforts will lead to a Common Fisheries Policy. This is also an official goal for African fisheries, as stated at the second African Union Conference of African Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers, held in March. The approach taken by the Caribbean to develop this policy, in a way that simultaneously considers “holistic approach that considers human well-being, ecosystem and governance issues”, is remarkable. The results already registered in the Caribbean region on the path to finalising this CFP – particularly the development of fisheries management plans – could provide valuable experience to be shared with other regions, including Africa, where the management of shared resources, such as small pelagics, presents similar challenges for the development of a pan-African fisheries policy.