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Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism:


A great challenge facing the countries of the Caribbean is the development and management of the living aquatic resources of the region in a responsible and sustainable manner to improve the quality of life of the thousands of persons who depend upon the fishery resources for their well-being and livelihood. The establishment of a CARICOM regional fisheries mechanism, hereinafter called the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), will enhance efforts to consolidate and advance the process of regional co-operation and promote sustainable fisheries management in the region. Fisheries management, which includes development, requires a broad-based, multidisciplinary approach.
In January 1991, CARICOM Governments with the support of the Government of Canada, officially launched the CARICOM Fisheries Resource Assessment and Management Programme (CFRAMP) to promote sustainable use and conservation of the fisheries resources of CARICOM Member States. The development and establishment of a regional fisheries mechanism that will provide support to CARICOM Member States after the CFRAMP Project concludes, is one of the three specific purposes of CFRAMP.
Given the ending of CFRAMP in March 2001, the Working Group considers it urgent to establish the CRFM in time for a smooth takeover of the CFRAMP responsibilities. The situation in which the CFRAMP project concludes without the CRFM in place is highly undesirable. This report, however, reflects not only the recommendations of the working group but also the views of national fisheries representatives and other stakeholders in CFRAMP and CARIFORUM who have been engaged in the participatory process of which this is a result.

The Goal
To promote sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture resources in and among Member States, by the development, management and conservation of these resources in collaboration with stakeholders to benefit the people of the Caribbean region.

Guiding Principles
The CRFM is guided by principles derived largely from the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The Code is an international instrument that promotes globally the adoption of principles and standards for the sustainable use, management, development, and conservation of all fisheries and aquaculture through the voluntary compliance of governments, fishing industries, non-governmental organisations and other entities associated with fisheries.

The functions elaborate upon the goal of the CRFM. They need to be broad in scope so that the CRFM can be proactive and flexible to meet the short and long-term developmental needs of all aspects of fisheries and aquaculture in Member States.
In determining the functions, the Working Group drew on Protocol V amending the Treaty Establishing the Caribbean Community. Specifically, the functions of the CRFM are considered to be as follows:

To provide technical, consultative and advisory services to Member States in the development, assessment, management and conservation of fisheries resources and, as needed, in the discharge of any obligations arising from bilateral and international instruments;

To facilitate the management, conservation and development of the shared fisheries resources of the Caribbean region either through attainment of competence over the resources or through cooperation with competent fishery organizations;

To support and enhance the institutional capabilities of Member States in areas such as,

policy formulation,

economics and planning,

registration and licensing systems,

information management,

resource monitoring, assessment and management,

education and awareness building,

monitoring, control and surveillance,

harvest and post-harvest technologies;

To encourage, support and, as appropriate, to provide effective regional representation at international fora;

To develop and maintain relations with national, regional and international agencies and organizations that have an impact on the fisheries within the region;

To promote and facilitate the development of aquaculture;

To promote and facilitate human resource training and development at the professional, technical and vocational levels;

To promote and support programs to establish, facilitate and strengthen research;

To promote and encourage technical cooperation, information exchange and networking among states;

To seek and mobilize financial and other resources in support of the execution of its mandate;

To develop and execute projects in support of its mandate.

Priority Areas
The priority areas within the full set of functions were selected at the First Technical Workshop (CFRAMP 1999) The report can be found here.

Assessment and Management of Shared Resources
This area was identified as being of the highest priority. Most marine fishery resources of interest to CARICOM countries are shared by two or more countries. The CRFM would enable CARICOM countries to take part in the management of shared resources. The role of the CRFM would vary according to the way in which the resources area shared (Fish stocks wholly within EEZs of CARICOM countries, Fish stocks wholly within EEZs of wider Caribbean countries, Fish stocks within CARICOM EEZs and on the high seas). In each category, the CRFM would identify the organisations competent to manage the resource, and determine what is required for participation. In those cases where no competent organisation exists, the CRFM could promote or facilitate the establishment of the organisation, even to the extent of becoming the organisation if so desired by the member States.

Assessment and Management of Resources at the the National Level
This area encompasses all fisheries resources including shared resources, and is regarded as the second highest priority. The CFTU would provide financial and technical support to assist Member States to monitor assess and develop management recommendations.
In general terms the types of activity at the national level will include:

Technical backstopping and technical advice to follow-up on previous fisheries assessment and management initiatives such as those initiated by CFRAMP.

Specific support related to fisheries assessment and management issues of concern to a particular Member State or group of States.

The CRFM should have the required flexibility to accommodate requests from Member States for specific support. However, the CFTU through the CRFM must seek to identify common areas of interest among Member States and make use of economies of scale.

Regional and National Capacity - Building and institutional Strengthening

This priority area addresses the human operational requirements for fisheries management at the national and regional levels. The CFTU will collaborate with Member States in the establishment, enhancement and development of the institutional capacity of states in all areas of fisheries management, including: organisational structures, long and short-term training, and technical cooperation. This will include: ensuring that the national fisherfolk organizations are further strengthened, and their capacities enhanced to become co-managers of the fisheries resources; facilitating a community involvement and education programme with a view to the establishment of a network of community based co-management projects; and developing links with major information disseminating institutions around the world, in order to obtain the latest information on all aspects of fisheries.

Regional and National Project Development and Management

A significant part of the work program of the CRFM will be developed and financed by way of projects funded by both donor and Member States' contributions. The CFTU will therefore be proactive in developing project proposals, negotiating funding and technical assistance and managing projects within its approved work program to achieve the mandate of the mechanism in promoting sustainable fisheries development in the region. Projects will be developed to conduct research, provide training and technical assistance and build institutional capacity for sustainable fisheries at both the national and regional levels.
The CFTU will develop project proposals in collaboration with the national fisheries administrations and other national and regional organizations to address priority areas within the approved work program of the CRFM. Although many projects may be implemented by the CFTU, advantage will be taken of opportunities to delegate project development and management to other CRFM elements.

Regional Representation in International For a CARICOM

countries are frequently affected by decisions taken in fora where there is little participation by Member States. As there are few fisheries issues without global dimensions, it is important that fisheries interests are represented. The types of fora include: Management, Technical, and Donor agencies. Some possible types of representation are:

Full legal or political

Official CARICOM spokespersons

National representative speaking on behalf of other national representatives

National official representatives looking out for the interests of other CARICOM countries

Information feedback.

Regional and National SOCIO-Economic and Planning
The lack of reliable and up-to-date data on the social and economic aspects of the fishing industry has been contributing to the relative neglect of fisheries in national development planning. The situation will worsen if national socio-economics and planning are not addressed as areas of priority. Sustainable fisheries development requires information not only on the biological and ecological aspects of the resource, but also on the social and economic aspects. The CRFM, will provide technical support to national programmes for the collection of social and economic data, and also to the implementation of frame surveys, which also provide valuable socio-economic data. These data will be compiled in national and regional databases.


The Overall Structure of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
The CRFM is the core of a complex interactive network of a wide variety of stakeholders in fisheries. Three bodies together make up the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). These are: 1) the Ministerial Body; 2) the Caribbean Fisheries Forum; and 3) the Caribbean Fisheries Technical Unit (CFTU).
Outside of this core will be the many stakeholders in the CRFM. The boxes in Figure 2 represent types and examples of stakeholders. The numbers and positions of boxes will change with time and circumstance. Therefore the extent of the network must necessarily be left open with the expectation that it will evolve. The core of the network, the CRFM, which is its decision-making and coordinating arrangement will, however, be clearly specified and established as a well-defined entity.

The Composition and Role of the Bodies of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism

The Ministerial Body, the Caribbean Fisheries Forum and the Caribbean Fisheries Technical Unit comprise the CRFM (Figure 3). These provide strategic direction and determine how the functions of the CRFM are operationalised. Only the CFTU is a full-time body with offices. The Council and Forum are convened as periodic assemblies. However, between meetings the participants may maintain connection and decision making function through formalised communication.

Membership in the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism would be open to all CARICOM countries as full members. Beyond this, provision could be made for accession to Associate Membership by three categories of other countries in the Caribbean:


Non-CARICOM Caribbean states;

Caribbean Dependent Territories which obtain special empowerment from their metropolitan powers to join.

Membership will ultimately be determined by political processes within CARICOM and the wider Caribbean. However, the objective should be to provide all key stakeholders some level of membership and others at least observer status.
Associate membership would entail the right to participate without voting privileges, subject to such associate members having the right to participate in decision-making on management regimes for fisheries which they share with other members. The operation of CRFM would also support the efforts of full members who share fisheries with associate members or non-members to develop appropriate management arrangements for such fisheries. Non-Caribbean countries with an interest in Caribbean fisheries, as well as relevant fisheries institutions, would be offered observer status. Associate members and observers would be required to pay appropriate fees to the CFRM for the relationship and participation at the forum.

Ministerial Body
The Ministerial body is the highest decision/policy making body within the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (Figure 3b).
Based on current practices within CARICOM and the recent passage of Protocol V, there are several alternatives for the composition of the Ministerial Body, one of which must be selected.

A new decision-making arrangement comprising CARICOM Ministers with specific responsibility for fisheries would probably be the most efficient and effective alternative. However, with a view to minimizing the changes to the present council structure, COTED meetings of ministers responsible for fisheries with input from COFCOR as required is considered to be the appropriate arrangement for a Ministerial Body for the CFRM.

The role of the Ministerial body would be to:

Provide policy guidelines and decisions in response to recommendations and requests from the Fisheries Forum.

Approval of CFTU strategic plan, work program and budget.

Review and decide on regional and international fisheries treaties and arrangements.

Caribbean Fisheries Forum
The Forum is the main technical and scientific decision making arena. It is made up of full members, associate members, and observers. The full members will be the decision making component of the Forum.
Full and associate members will be represented by heads of national fisheries authorities. CARICOM and OECS bodies will be ex officio members of the Forum. Observers may include, but are not limited to, intergovernmental fisheries organisations, fisherfolk organisations and other NGOs, and universities. The CFTU will be the secretariat of the Forum.
The role of the Forum will be to:

Provide forum for information exchange on all fisheries related matters.

Review and decision making body for the operation of the CFTU and CRFM.

Recommendations for and approval of the long and short-term work programs of the CFTU to the Ministerial Body.

Provide fisheries policy advice and recommendations to Ministerial Body and Member States

Provide forum for proactive planning of the regional fisheries sector program

Review and consider new issues and directions in fisheries for incorporation into the work of the CRFM.

Ensure that the CFTU is properly financed, structured and staffed.

Review executive management actions, to ensure that they are congruent with policy and plans and that the CFTU is making the best use of resources and achieving desired results.

The national fisheries authorities will have a dual role in the CFRM. They will be both the major contributors to decision-making and operational programming of the CFRM, as well as being its main clients. As integral and most important components of the CFRM, national fisheries authorities have the opportunity to shape and guide these arrangements for the benefit of the people. The authorities will be expected to participate in the Ministerial Body and Forum through their policy-making and technical representatives.

Caribbean Fisheries Technical Unit
This unit will comprise a permanent body of technical, scientific and support staff. Its role will be to:

Collaborate with national fisheries authorities.

Formulate the work program and submit to the Fisheries Forum

Implement the work program recommended by the Fisheries Forum and approved by the Ministerial Body.

Provide management and development advice and assistance, particularly in the areas of coordination, communication and technical scientific operations.

Address urgent or ad hoc requests outside of the regular work program presented by Member governments.

Serve as secretariat to the Forum and Ministerial Body.

The elements of the network shown in Figure 2 will be involved in the work of the CFRM in various ways. The lead responsibility for executing particular tasks that are coordinated by the CRFM may vary with the task.

The new Caribbean Fisheries Technical Unit must be organised and staffed to carry out the functions of the CRFM, with initial emphasis on the priority areas assigned. The CFTU may grow over time as new functions are added based on its performance and assumption of responsibility. It should start small and effective, this being achieved through appropriate staffing and performance-based rewards.
The types of skills required to reside within the CFTU to address the priority areas can be provided by a minimal initial complement of six professional core staff (Table 1). These staff will be located at two offices: one, in Belize, will be the headquarters of the CRFM; the other will be located in the eastern Caribbean to provide a base from which to serve this part of the CARICOM region (Figure 5).
The Director will be responsible for the overall operation of the CFTU, and will have broad knowledge and experience in fisheries development and management, including international fisheries issues and organizations. The Director will focus on formulation of fisheries policy recommendations, the development of projects and the acquisition of funding to address the priority areas as identified by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism.

The Deputy Director will be responsible for the operation of the eastern Caribbean office, and will assist the Director with overall operation of the CFTU. The Deputy Director will focus on developing a programme for the management of shared stocks.

There will be three Technical Officers with responsibility for developing programmes that: (1) Provide assistance with national fisheries to Member Countries; (2) establish and maintain regional fisheries data and information system; and (3) Address the social and economic aspects of management and planning of fisheries.

These staff will be supported by administrative and support staff shown in Figure 4.

The headquarters will be primarily responsible for the priority areas relating to project development, acquisition of funding, data and information management and sociological and economic planning. Continued use of cost-effective communication between headquarters and the Eastern Caribbean office will ensure that adequate coordination is maintained with all CRFM participants.

The Eastern Caribbean office will be primarily responsible for the priority areas addressing the management of shared resources and national level fisheries.

Given that the headquarters of the CRFM will be in Belize, a second office in the eastern Caribbean is considered to be highly advantageous for the following reasons:

Travel and communications costs between the CFTU and Member States can be reduced by the proximity of the eastern Caribbean countries to the majority of Member States;

The professional staff with primary responsibility for the shared stocks program can be in the immediate area where most of these fisheries are taking place;

The Eastern Caribbean office can facilitate access to the mechanism by Member States in this area.

The capital costs of building(s) or rental costs for accommodation for the CFTU will be met by the Member States hosting the units. Vehicles, office equipment and furniture will be inherited from current projects such as CFRAMP. The staff will be offered salaries and conditions that relate to regional norms while at the same time serving to attract and retain highly competent personnel.
Operational costs of the CFTU, which include both fixed and recurrent costs for emoluments, services etc, and variable costs associated with operational programs will be met by

Annual contributions from each Member State,

Profits on cost recovery for some services provided by the CFTU;

Overheads from donor agencies;

Income from intellectual property created and owned by the CFTU;

Grant funds received from regional and international aid agencies.

The preliminary estimate for the establishment of the CFTU and the operation of the CFRM is US$970,000 for the first year.

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