Caribbean fisheries ministers sign regional spiny lobster declaration

St George’s, Grenada (CRFM) — In a milestone development for the region, fisheries ministers recently endorsed a new declaration on spiny lobster — a highly traded marine species in the Caribbean — at the ninth meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), which concluded on Friday, 15 May 2015, in Grenada.

The declaration, which is a non-binding roadmap for closer regional collaboration, was signed by the newly installed chairman of the CRFM Ministerial Council – Roland Bhola, Grenada’s minister of agriculture, lands, forestry, fisheries and the environment, who assumed the rotating chairmanship of the Council on the occasion of the meeting from Johnson Drigo, Dominica’s minister of agriculture and fisheries.

The declaration states that its objective “…is to ensure the long-term sustainable use of the spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) resources through effective implementation of conservation and management measures for the stocks and their habitats based on the best scientific evidence available.”

It calls on the 17 CRFM member states to develop or adapt existing national strategies, plans, programmes or regulations to achieve the objective of the spiny lobster declaration.

The declaration underscores the need for regional management initiatives to take into account the interests of small-scale and subsistence fishers and promote their participation in the decision-making processes that affect their livelihoods.

The spiny lobster declaration recognizes the trans-boundary nature of the species and the interconnectedness of the marine ecosystems in which they live, and it highlights the need for member states to cooperate and coordinate actions.

This is in line with provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, establishing the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, which enjoins Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states to cooperate in all areas necessary to foster regional development and integration in natural resource management and fisheries management and development.

The declaration — which addresses research, data collection and the sharing of data and information; conservation and management measures; monitoring control and surveillance; and public awareness and education — is also in concert with the main objectives of the CARICOM Common Fisheries Policy and the Agreement establishing the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism.

The CRFM aims to promote efficient management and sustainable development of marine and other aquatic resources, and promote and establish cooperative management arrangements for shared and highly migratory resources in conformity with the economic objectives of the member states.

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