Caribbean Government Ministers with responsibility for Marine Resources accompanied by technocrats from respective Fishery Departments met in conclave in Kingstown St Vincent and the Grenadines last Friday.

The Bahamas was represented by Larry Cartwright, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, and Director of Marine Resources Michael Braynen.

The first Ministerial Council Meeting of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) was held, chaired by host Minister Montgomery Daniel. Ministerial delegations from nine Caribbean countries attended.

The Ministerial conference agreed to move forward with the establishment of a common Fisheries Policy upon which a regime would be built.

It was decided that the construction of the policy would take a three-tiered approach. A multi-disciplinary technical working group would be put in place drawing on expertise from the regional fisheries divisions, the CARICOM Secretariat legal unit, and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

This multi-disciplinary working group would review Member States’ comments and suggestions to be discussed at the Caribbean Fisheries Forum in April 2009 and the Special Meeting in May 2009.

The Ministers underscored that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a serious threat to the region’s fisheries. The declaration is a statement of the intent by the CFRM member states to prevent and eradicate this scourge.

The Common Fisheries Policy and Regime, the draft CRFM Medium Term Plan, the draft declaration on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, the draft CRFM Operations Manual, Member State contributions, and resource mobilization were discussed.

The meeting also adopted a proposal by the Caribbean Regional Fisherfolk Network recognizing it as the representative body of the fisherfolk in the region in policy decisions taken at the state and regional levels.

“While there is much work left to be done the meeting ended on a positive note with the Chairman encouraging all to redouble their efforts to enrich the civilization that can make Caribbean people proud,” said Minister Cartwright.