MINISTERS CALL FOR STRENGHTENED REGIONAL APPROACH TO MANAGE & CONSERVE FISHERIES RESOURCES
Tuesday 24th May 2011
Photo showing sections of the ministerial delegation.
Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & the Environment Honourable Hilson Baptiste has endorsed the need to strengthen regional cooperation for the effective conservation and management of fisheries resources in the Caribbean.
Minister Baptiste was speaking at the Fourth Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Ministerial Council held at Jolly Beach, Resort, in Antigua, on May 20th, 2011, where he assumed chairmanship of the governing body.
Fisheries ministers from across the region were in Antigua to review the draft agreement establishing the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy.
The accepted draft would be recommended to the Council On Trade and Economic Development (COTED) COFOR, and the LAC for considerations and endorsement before submission to the Conference of Heads of Government for their deliberation.
Photo of Hon. Baptiste CRFM incoming Chairman
Minister Baptiste expressed that fisheries undoubtedly, is a major contributor to food and nutrition security. He added that it also provides significant employment as an income generator and generally acts as a safety net for other sectors of the economy in times of disaster.
“However, fish stocks, throughout the region, have been affected by factors such as, varying levels of exploitation which could lead to severe reduction in the abundance of key species and even climate change. When our fish stocks are threatened our food security is at risk. ”
Baptiste also pointed out that significant environmental degradation of (mangrove, coral reefs, sea grass beds, is ever present.
To compound the problem, the minister disclosed, “There is also a high level of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing throughout the region. If we are to sustainably develop our fisheries we will need to ensure that our conservation and management measures are appropriate for the changing physical and socio-economic environment.”
Minister Baptiste in highlighting the challenge of IUU fishing expressed that it is a common scourge in the region, and is now being given attention at the global level. As a result, he said there is “need for significant efforts at the national and regional levels to tackle the problem, holistically.”
Photo of Hon. Joseph CRFM outgoing chairman
Meanwhile the outgoing chairman of the CRFM ministerial Council Hon. Ezechiel Joseph, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in St. Lucia underscored the importance of the fishing industry in the region, and agreed that immediate and holistic measures should be put in place to minimize the effects on the sector.
The St. Lucian minister recognized challenges such as high fuel prices, climate change and called for action to “implement policies and programmes to aid the development of the region’s fishing industry.”
Minister Joseph, further accentuate contributions of the CRFM to the development of the fisheries sector in the region.
Minister Joseph urged his colleagues to come –up with formulated procedures to forward the process of the Castries (St. Lucia) Declaration on IUU Fishing, which was adopted by the Ministerial Council in July 2010.
“The Castries (St. Lucia) Declaration on IUU Fishing should not remain as a policy statement, but rather, be implemented in order to address the scourge of IUU fishing in the region,” said the CRFM outgoing Chairman.
Also participating in the opening ceremony were Mrs. Sharon Peters, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and the Environment and Mr. Hugh A. Saul, Executive Director, CRFM Secretariat, and Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & the Environment, Hon. Chanlah Codrington.
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