The Belize-based Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) says an agreement has been reached with the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA) for increased cooperation in a number of areas.
CRFM said that the accord was reached earlier this week after Caribbean fisheries ministers met with OSPESCA officials and agreed to the “Declaration on CRFM-OSPESCA Cooperation for Sustainable Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture Resources”.
It said the agreement signals their resolve to solidify the cooperation agreed upon during their first joint meeting here in 2010.
Among the agreed areas of cooperation are the monitoring and managing Sargassum blooms which have been adversely affecting the region since 2011; the control of invasive species, with emphasis on the Pacific lionfish and the development of small-scale fisheries to ensure the protection of livelihoods and food security.
The renewed alliance will also support the implementation of fisheries management plans for shared stocks, such as spiny lobster, queen conch and migratory pelagic species; programmes on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in fisheries and aquaculture; as well as ocean-based fisheries and aquaculture economic activities, including value chain development.
The CRFM and OSPESCA countries have, furthermore, pledged to develop coordinated positions on international processes, such as the listing of threatened and endangered species under CITES; fisheries subsidies negotiations led by the WTO; and the UN conference to develop a legally-binding agreement on conservation, management and sustainable use of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The CRFM said that in signing the declaration, the ministers also approved the Second Joint CRFM-OSPESCA Action Plan (2020 to 2025), which is a five-year roadmap to guide collaborative programmes and activities agreed in the declaration by the two sub-regional organisations.
Prior to the meeting with OSPESCA, the CRFM Ministerial Council held its ninth Special Meeting, at which it approved the Regional Plan of Action on IUU Fishing for the Western Central Atlantic region, with a commitment to developing a CARICOM-specific Action Plan.
“The Jamaican delegation pointed out to their counterparts that IUU fishing recently forced them to impose a moratorium on their conch fishery, resulting in multi-million-dollar losses for the country, its export sector and fishers. Their hope is that the collaboration with OSPESCA will help to effectively prevent and deter IUU fishing in Caribbean waters,” the CRFM statement said.