FISHERIES officials from Member States of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) met last Wednesday at the Montserrat Cultural Centre to review and validate the Draft Protocol to Integrate Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Fisheries and Aquaculture into the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy.
Attending the one-day meeting were experts from non-government stakeholders in fisheries/aquaculture, climate change and disaster risk management. They include the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO), and regional and international organisations such as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The CRFM—the CARICOM agency which works to promote sustainable development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector—is a regional partner on the Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector (CC4FISH) Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF); and implemented by FAO. It is under this umbrella that the new initiative is being implemented for the benefit of the CARICOM States.
Leslie John Walling, a regional consultant who specializes in Coastal Resources Assessment and Management, Disaster Risk Reduction Planning, and Climate Change Adaptation Planning, was engaged by the CRFM to assist with the development of the new protocol.
The CRFM wants to ensure that the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP) can effectively direct the development of a regional fishery sector that is resilient to a changing climate and enhanced through comprehensive disaster management, and the sustainable use of marine, aquatic, and terrestrial resources.
Through this new protocol, measures will be incorporated into the Common Fisheries Policy to reduce vulnerability to climate change and disasters such as hurricanes and to increase resilience of fishing communities and the fisheries sector to the threats arising.
Working together, the countries can more effectively and comprehensively define and implement measures required to reduce vulnerability and enhance resilience throughout the aquaculture and fisheries value chains. This will, in turn, afford stronger protection of fishing communities, increased food security and the more secure livelihoods of persons who depend on fisheries and aquaculture.
The regional protocol to integrate climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in fisheries and aquaculture into the CCCFP will also address issues related to production, processing, marketing and trading of fishery and aquaculture products. Catastrophic events can disrupt the fisheries value chain; however, effective strategies can help to ensure that the sector bounces back as quickly as possible.
The Protocol will apply within national waters but also onboard vessels on the High Seas which fly the flags of participating states and wherever participating states have jurisdiction.
It will be consistent with both the regional Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Strategy and Framework 2014-2024, and the Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change, 2011-2021.
After the technical experts from the Member Countries and partner agencies weigh in on the document at their meeting in Montserrat, the draft protocol will be refined for presentation to Caribbean ministers responsible for fisheries and aquaculture – the Ministerial Council of the CRFM, which sets fisheries policy for our region.
The parties intend to meet regularly, using the existing CRFM governance mechanism, to review the protocol and its implementation across CARICOM.