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Sep 4, 2012

Belize hosts 1st Ministerial Meeting of CRFM-OSPESCA

In a joint declaration, Heads of State and Government of both Central American and Caribbean countries who met at the third CARICOM-SICA Summit in San Salvador, El Salvador, last August, called on Belize to host the first high-level ministerial meeting of CRFM-OSPESCA. Its aim is to strengthen collaboration to manage the shared resources of the Caribbean Sea. The meeting ended today; twenty-two countries participated. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

 

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA) are forming a new partnership with Belize as the link between the two. Both are major regional fisheries organizations with a shared objective of sustainably managing marine resources. The first meeting of the CRFM and OSPESCA was hosted in Belize over the past two days to chart the course for future collaborative action.

 

Wendel Parham

Dr. Wendel Parham, C.E.O., Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Dev.

“It is indeed a great honor for us in Belize to host this historic event that brings together the senior most leadership of the fisheries sector to advance the causes of sustainable development for the wider Caribbean as encompassed by both the sub regions of the CRFM member countries and the SICA states.”

 

Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development

“From the very inception, it is not just taking the issues beyond the national borders, it has always been focused on the concept of sustainable development, which conceptually balances the need for social and economic development against the integrity of the resources, which in this case are the fish stocks and indeed the habitats and the wider biophysical environment which supports them. The shared nature of the fisheries resources and indeed the wealth and diversity of these resources requires that we consolidate our efforts to improve the outcomes for our citizens on a long term and sustainable basis.”

 

The meeting had representation from twenty-two of the twenty-four member countries of CRFM and OSPESCA. The Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government from the Bahamas, who also chairs the CRFM Ministerial Council outlined some of the shared concerns that were discussed, including the impacts of climate change.

 

Alfred Gray

V. Alfred Gray, Chairman, CRFM Ministerial Council

“The management of the spiny lobster industry, which industry is important as a resource to the employment and the foreign exchange earnings of many countries and the main stay of the commercial fishing industry in the Bahamas. Two, we seek to combat the threat arising from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which goal is certainly regional and global in fact and we hope that all of the countries represented here will seek to combat illegal and unreported fishing in their various countries as we seek to do in the Bahamas. We must respond to the threat posed by the proliferation of the marine environment of invasive species such as the specific lionfish.”

 

Dr. Wendel Parham

“This forum is broken down into a technical working group session and the actual ministerial component, which our ministers from both regions will address. Technical working group sessions began yesterday and have been structured to deal with the primary outputs of the meeting. These are of course, the statement of outcomes, a strategy and action plan and a memorandum of understanding to give legal foundation to the proceedings.”

 

Those documents were finalized and signed in a ministerial meeting that culminated the conference.  But while the discussions were on a regional level, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Lisel Alamilla, says it does not shift the focus from what needs to be done, locally.

 

Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla

“I believe that as we pursue the mission of sustainable development on a wider, regional basis for the CRFM and OSPECSA group of countries collectively, we cannot do so in isolation of what needs to happen at the national level. In this regard, institutions and governance processes will need to be reformed and engineered, development partners will need to be meaningfully engaged and innovative ways of assessing and deploying fiscal material and human resources will need to be realized. Illegal fishing by nationals and poaching by fishers from the neighboring countries continues to be a major challenge. In 2011, over a hundred and thirty-four fishers were convicted and fined and in some instances imprisoned.”

 

The theme for the two day meeting was “Solidifying collaborative Action in Fisheries and Aquaculture across twenty-five Caribbean and Central American Countries. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

 

According to Alamilla, another challenge for Belize is the open access fishery, which means there is no limit the amount the fishers or fishing in our waters. There is, however, a share catch pilot project being tested to address that issue.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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