(L to R):The Honourable Minister Roland Bhola, Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment greeted by Mr Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).
Delivering the feature address at the opening of a two-day workshop on the theme “Investing in Blue Economic Growth” in Grenada, the Honourable Minister Roland Bhola, Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment urged the participants to deliver sound recommendations for the way forward on a strategy for sustainable blue growth in the region. “There is need to change the thought process to find solutions to overcome the challenges in the fisheries sector, through understanding the importance of sustainable management of the region’s resources. The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Ministerial Council will meet in April 2015 and your recommendations will assist to optimize the benefits of blue growth in the region”.
Generating sustainable economic growth from marine resources in the Caribbean: a key concern
Minister Bhola said, “The world we live in is vastly different, and we must create an enabling environment to improve our social and economic status while considering the challenges, need to include effective management of the resources, climate change and variability, cooperation at the regional and sub-regional levels and take into account other international conventions”.
“Grenada is a small island developing state with a vulnerable economy and the management of the sea space is critical since the maritime space is seventy times that of its land space and the government has been expanding on the opportunities of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that includes the demand for tuna and other pelagic resources including the tourism sector”, Minister told the audience at the ceremony.
Mr. Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM also made a call on the stakeholders to get on board with support to develop the region’s fisheries sector not only for food consumption but for its economic benefits. He said, “Globally the aquaculture sector is being developed to generate economic growth from the living resources in the oceans and seas. The Caribbean has to collaborate to meet the demands of the sector for economic growth within a sustainable context.”
The executive director outlined the major components of the blue growth concept that includes optimizing human social and economic benefits from marine and inland capture fisheries, aquaculture development, food systems, and ecosystem services and marine biodiversity conservation at regional and national levels.
Engaging different stakeholders in the dialogue
The workshop also allowed continued efforts being made by the CRFM for enhanced involvement of all stakeholders in the policy process and improved, broad public understanding and appreciation of the challenges and opportunities of the industry and its policies, and what this means for investing in blue growth.
Mr. Chris Addison, Senior Programme Coordinator, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) ACP-EU in his opening remarks said CTA is committed to strengthening the value chains in the Caribbean and will continue to provide the technical support initiatives towards smart agriculture, including fisheries.
Mr. Mitchell Lay, Coordinator, Caribbean Network for Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO) said while the workshop is also focused on building capacity of the fisherfolks, there is need for marine affairs programmes to be part of the education system in schools at an early level to build on the knowledge platform of food and nutrition resources.
According to Mr. Justin Rennie, Chief Fisheries Officer, Fisheries Division, Grenada, “The sector in general is not understood by the public at large and the requisite attention is not forthcoming by governments. This situation should be reviewed since the marine space in most countries is more than 50 times the size of land space, and is providing significant opportunities for the sector and the region holistically.”
The workshop organized by the CRFM in collaboration with CNFO and CTA brought together stakeholders from the fisheries sector including media to deepen their understanding of the blue growth concept by raising public awareness in the Caribbean and building capacity of primary stakeholders for more effective stakeholder positioning and participation in fisheries policy and management actions.