The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism has reiterated its support for the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy, and wants member states to ensure their internal consultations are expedited to facilitate this approval.
The position came at the recently concluded Fourth Special Meeting of the Ministerial Council in Guyana, and chaired by St Lucia’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Production Moses Jn Baptiste.
In a statement, the CRFM Ministerial Council underscored the important role of fisheries and aquaculture in CARICOM, and its contribution to food and nutrition security, employment, and the economic and social well-being of the people of the region.
The statement noted: “The council also discussed a request from the International Tribunal on Law of the Sea for a statement from the CRFM on Case 21, dealing with the issue of IUU [illegal, unreported and unregulated] fishing, submitted by the Sub-regional Fisheries Commission, Africa.
“The case was lodged to look into issues such as the obligations of the flag state in cases where IUU fishing is perpetrated within the exclusive economic zone of third party states, and the extent of the flag state’s liability. The ministers view this request as indicative of the high regard with which the international community holds the CRFM and its work,” the statement said.
The council said this would provide the region with an opportunity to “influence international jurisprudence on the question of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing”.
In this regard, it noted that the CRFM Secretariat had secured the services of Professor Pieter Bekker, chair of international law, Dundee University, Britain, and a partner in the international law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP, to assist with the preparation of the brief on behalf of the CRFM on a pro bono basis.
“The Ministerial Council also underlined how important it is for CFRM member states to participate in the negotiations on the Smallscale Fisheries (SSF) Guidelines, being formulated through the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), when the workshop resumes in February 2014.”
The council had recalled that the 14th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference Of Heads Of Government held more than ten years ago in Trinidad and Tobago issued a call for the preparation of a common fisheries policy and regime for the region.
Consequently, the draft agreement establishing the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP) was formulated and then unanimously endorsed by the Fourth Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM on May 20, 2011, supported by the 38th Special Meeting of the COTED held on October 14, 2011.
Later, the Seventh Meeting of the CRFM Ministerial Council called on all member states and the CARICOM Secretariat to make every effort to ensure that the draft agreement establishing the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy is opened for signature by the CARICOM Heads Of Government at their next meeting.