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Senior environment officials from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met recently in Belize as CARICOM rationalises its position on the United Nations (UN) process to establish an international legally binding agreement on sustainable use of marine resources.
The two-day workshop held 20-22 February 2017, in Belize City, Belize, was titled, ‘CARICOM Regional Workshop on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction’.
Foreign Minister of Belize, the Hon. Wilfred Elrington, addressing the opening, said that CARICOM Member States had championed the negotiation and adoption of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), which was opened for signature in Jamaica. He also reminded that when the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea was constituted, two CARICOM citizens – Edward Laing of Belize and Dolliver Nelson of Grenada, joined the ranks of the first 21 Members of the Tribunal.
“Judge Laing and Judge Nelson are no longer with us, but they, together with other key jurists from our Region, including the sitting Judge Anthony Amos Lucky of Trinidad and Tobago, have left a legacy on the international stage that is definitive of our Region’s commitment to uphold the law of the sea.
“We have now been called upon to address an area of the law of the sea that has not been adequately provided for in the UNCLOS, whether for want of scientific knowledge, implementation, or as a result of governance and legal gaps,” he said.
For CARICOM, he noted, the implementation of this agreement was the only feasible option to ensure that developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in particular, benefited equitably from the conservation, sustainable use and exploitation of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
Critically, he said, the agreement presented an opportunity to strengthen the Convention and to help States with the implementation of provisions of UNCLOS relating to resources which would not have been contemplated to be the exclusive domain of any State, however large and industrialised.
Minister Elrington told the gathering of regional experts in the legal field, in fisheries, environment and international relations that it was critical for the meeting to identify the essential elements for a new implementing agreement, taking into account regional interests, the Community’s contributions to the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources and potential benefits to be secured in such an agreement.
The Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, also addressed the meeting noting that the wide range of expertise gathered at the meeting reflected the complexity of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
This multi-sectoral approach was necessary, he said, to address the complexities of the issue. He urged the participants to use the platform for knowledge-building, sharing and networking, and to establish a solid foundation upon which the CARICOM could formulate well-informed positions.
The meeting engaged in technical discussions on the proposed Implementing Agreement under the United Nations Law of the Sea on Biodiversity beyond National Jurisdiction. It identified areas for further study and research for the Region to enhance its participation in the preparatory process. It also identified key actions to be taken at the national and regional level ahead of the next Preparatory meeting of the United Nations scheduled for March 27th to 7th April 2017.
Credit: CARICOM Today
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Government of Norway have launched a two-week mission to explore the development of a regional technical assistance project to be funded by Norway. The project would support the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector by strengthening evidence-based management.
Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; and Dr. Johán Williams, Specialist Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, began meeting on Monday, January 16, with CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton at the CRFM Secretariat in Belize City, after which the team embarked in a two-week dialogue with 7 CRFM Members States, beginning with senior government officials in Belize.
This regional fact-finding mission is being undertaken within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Cooperation between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Governments of the Nordic Countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, signed by the parties on 20 September 2016 in New York, USA. That MoU identified fisheries as one of the priority areas of cooperation, along with environment, climate change, renewable energy, gender equality, tourism, education, child protection and welfare, and information technology.
“Norway is a powerhouse in fisheries, globally,” Haughton said. “They have excellent systems for research, data collection, resource management, and making decisions based on science; and we need to move more in that direction—strengthening our systems to be able to make better decisions regarding fisheries conservation and management, as well as fisheries development on the basis of good scientific data and information.”
Haughton added that: “We are interested in drawing on the Norwegian knowledge, expertise and technology in various aspects of fisheries and aquaculture, in building our own capacities in CARICOM in fisheries research, statistics, resource management, aquaculture (particularly mariculture), fish processing, value addition, marketing and international trade.”
Principally, the engagement between Norway and the CRFM Member States will focus on building human resource capacity, institutional capacity, and the accuracy and volume of fisheries data and information, with an emphasis on pursuing the ecosystems approach to fisheries development and management.
While in Belize, Høines and Williams had a chance to dialogue with H.E. Daniel Guiterrez, Belize’s Ambassador to CARICOM; Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Climate Change, as well as Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade.
After leaving Belize on Tuesday, the team, joined by CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton, travels to Haiti for similar dialogue, as they consult with stakeholders in the field to better define their interests. Next, the team will travel to Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and The Bahamas. While in Guyana, they will meet both with fisheries officials there and officials of the CARICOM Secretariat. The technical mission concludes near the end of January.
Haughton noted that for more than 60 years, Norway has been supporting fisheries research surveys in developing countries using the marine research vessel, Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, outfitted with high-level modern technology in marine resource survey. Those vessels have been dispatched in Africa and other parts of the developing world. It is the CRFM’s hope that during the latter half of the proposed project, for the period 2019-2020, the research vessel would be deployed in the Caribbean to conduct surveys to broaden the region’s understanding of the state of its fisheries resources and marine environment. The CRFM also intends to collaborate in this endeavor with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/ Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission, which is already committed to assisting the region in buildings its fisheries knowledge base.
Credit: The Bahamas Weekly