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Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)
The mission of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) is to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, ensure that benefits of integration are equitably shared, and coordinate foreign policy. The organization also has an interest in fisheries management and conservation in the Caribbean.
The organization includes 15 full members, 5 associate members, and 8 observers. Associates can engage in discussions but cannot vote. Observers engage in at least one of CARICOM’s technical committees.
CARICOM countries are highly dependent upon their marine resources for economic and social development. Fisheries are an importance source of livelihood and nutrition for the people of the region. Fisheries are also an important factor in food security, poverty alleviation, employment, foreign exchange earnings, development and stability of rural and coastal communities, recreation and tourism, and culture.
In February 2002, CARICOM members agreed to establish the CARICOM Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). The CRFM is headquartered in Belize and is an independent regional fisheries body that promotes the sustainable use of marine resources for the economic and social benefits of the people of the region.
The CRFM agreement is a commitment to sustainable development of the fishery resources of the Caribbean through close cooperation among the member states. Cooperation is in accordance with the principles laid down by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and associated agreements including the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and its various International Plans of Action.
GOVERNANCE AND DECISION-MAKING
The CARICOM Secretariat oversees policymaking and decisions. It relies on consensus among heads of government. Since 2001, CARICOM policymaking has been heavily focused on human development objectives.
The CRFM consists of three bodies – the Ministerial Council, Caribbean Fisheries Forum, and CRFM Secretariat. The Ministerial Council is the highest decision-making body, and is comprised of the ministers responsible for fisheries in each member state. The Fisheries Forum is the main technical and scientific body of the CRFM.
The CRFM contributes significantly to all aspects of fisheries management planning and decision-making in its member states. This includes data collection, analysis and management, research, dissemination of scientific and technical information, preparation of national fisheries management plans, and strengthening national capacity for management.
Although the CRFM cannot make decisions that are directly binding on members, the Ministerial Council can make recommendations that member states would be obliged to implement..
HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE OF THE CARICOM ON FISHERIES SUBSIDIES
Member states have recognized the need for regional cooperation to ensure sustainable management of their fisheries. In that context, and arising from UNCLOS, members have undertaken a number of projects in this direction.
In 1991, CARICOM countries launched the ten-year CARICOM Fisheries Resource Assessment and Management Program (CFRAMP). Its goal was to promote sustainable use of the fisheries resources of CARICOM member states. CFRAMP was the first major fisheries project of its type. When the project ended in 2002, the CARICOM heads of government signed the Intergovernmental Agreement establishing the CRFM.
In the past, CARICOM has shown preference to consider fisheries subsidies within a holistic framework, taking into consideration trends in ecological resource systems, socio-economic aspects of fisheries, economic performance, profitability, trade liberalization policies, and technological innovations.
What could the CARICOM produce/do on fisheries subsidies?
CARICOM has not directly addressed fisheries subsidies and seems to have low inclination to make this a focus going forward.
However, member states have used CRFM as an advisory body providing scientific information, recommendations, and other forms of support to member states. The support allows members to make informed decisions and strengthen their capacity to govern and manage fisheries themselves. Such an advisory body could make recommendations on members’ subsidy programs.
The CRFM could produce a guidance paper on reforming harmful fisheries subsidies across the region. This could potentially be motivated by the desire of some CARICOM members to advance a “blue economy” agenda and be seen as regional leaders on ocean issues. Such a paper and the endorsement of individual countries could raise attention and potentially motivate other CARICOM members to take action.
Caribbean Community Headquarters
Railway Embankment Road
Tel: +592 222 0001/75 (main)
Fax: +592 222 0171
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