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MOU boosts regional sustainable fisheries coordination

Three Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFBs) on Wednesday 27 January signed  a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)  to facilitate, support and strengthen the coordination of actions to increase the sustainability of fisheries.

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM); the Organisation of the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector (OSPESCA); and the FAO- Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (FAO-WECAFC) signed the MOU in Cartagena, Colombia.

The three RFBs agreed to work on a number of priority areas such as the provision of advice in support of management of fisheries of spiny lobster, queen conch, shrimp and groundfish, recreational fisheries, flyingfish, FADs fisheries, sharks, spawning aggregations, and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fisheries. Joint Working Groups on these species and fisheries have been established in recent years and are now better coordinated. The RFBs have also agreed to work on areas and actions identified in the CLME+ Project and CLME+ Strategic Action Programme that are of relevance to the scope of work. The RFBs have also committed to working towards the harmonisation of their respective fisheries policies and legal frameworks.

 The Interim Coordination Mechanism, to be tested through this MOU, will increase the uptake of information and fisheries management advice generated at national and sub-regional level to the regional level. This will support dissemination of best practices, improve harmonization and boost the impact of measures, decrees and regulations adopted within the frameworks of these RFBs. It will provide a pilot structure that may lead at some point to the establishment of one or more Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) in the Western Central Atlantic Ocean.

This is a strategically significant development that should produce significant tangible benefits for our countries, coastal communities and other stakeholders in the fisheries sector. It will ensure that our policies, programmes and plans for sustainable use, management and conservation of the living marine resources are more coherent, integrated and holistic, and hence more appropriate for addressing the challenges we face in the Caribbean Sea and adjacent Atlantic Ocean,” Executive Director of the CRFM, Milton Haughton said.

I am very happy with this MOU which formalizes collaboration between OSPESCA, CRFM and WECAFC that started some 4 years ago through joint working groups. This is good for the region’s fisheries. The members of the three RFBs will benefit hugely from this development,” said Raymon van Anrooy, Secretary of WECAFC.

 The Executive Director of OSPESCA, Mario González Recinos, said, “The signing of this MOU responds to the objectives of the new Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Integration Policy (2015-2025), and the Central American region’s commitment to promote better coordination frameworks at both national and regional levels, with the idea of ​​harmonizing management strategies, especially for species of high commercial value that are characterized by their migratory nature in the Caribbean Sea.”

 The MOU between the 3 RFBs was signed during the First Steering Committee Meeting of the Project which took place in Cartagena, Colombia from 26-28 January 2016.

The initiative is supported through the UNDP/GEF-Catalysing Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of shared Living Marine Resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+) Project.

The five-year regional project seeks to support the implementation of a 10-year politically endorsed Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of the Shared Living Marine Resources of the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+ SAP); through the full implementation of ecosystem based management/an ecosystem approach to fisheries (EBM/EAF) within the CLME+ region.

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