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.
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.
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
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
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,
economics and planning,
registration and licensing systems,
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
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.
The priority areas within the full set of functions were selected
at the First Technical Workshop (CFRAMP 1999) The report can be
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
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
In general terms the types of activity at the national level will
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
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
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
National official representatives looking out for the interests of
other CARICOM countries
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.
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
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.
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
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
Review and decision making body for the operation of the CFTU and
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
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
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 NETWORK USED BY THE CRFM
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.
ORGANISATION AND STAFFING OF THE CARIBBEAN FISHERIES TECHNICAL
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
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
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
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.