Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar
May 28, 2021
Caesar urges regional colleagues to prioritize blue economy

This country’s Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, who is now chair of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), has urged fellow ministers responsible for Fisheries across the Caribbean to prioritise the Blue Economy, to strengthen the region’s COVID-19 recovery efforts.

The ‘Blue Economy’ is an emerging concept which encourages better use and conservation of the ocean or ‘blue’ resources to boost economic growth and to tackle unemployment, food security and poverty.  

A release said that the Ministerial Council has been forced to meet virtually since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that has not stopped them from making monumental progress in steering the fisheries and aquaculture sector forward, with carefully designed policies and plans, despite very challenging times.

Minister Caesar, who was elected as chair of the CRFM Ministerial Council on May 21 to succeed Minister Ezechiel Joseph of Saint Lucia, has assumed leadership with a resolute commitment, even as his home country is striving to overcome the recent eruption of La Soufrière volcano amid the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic and the explosive volcanic eruptions of 2021, St Vincent and the Grenadines stood out among the countries that were registering significant improvements in the export trade of its fisheries commodities.  Although some CRFM member states have been seeing declining exports, coupled with a growing import bill to meet domestic demand for fish and fishery products, St Vincent and the Grenadines continued to register growth in trade for 2019 and 2020.

During the recent CRFM Ministerial Council meeting, the Ministers received the latest updates on status and trends in fisheries and aquaculture, as documented in the “CRFM Statistics and Information Report 2019/2020,” which the Ministers have endorsed for publication. The evidence provided in the report demonstrated that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on activities in the fisheries sector, including production, as well as exports and imports of fish and fishery products.

These impacts were documented in even more detail through regional assessments which the CRFM secretariat conducted during 2020 and 2021, aimed at providing insights to support the reorientation of the fisheries and aquaculture sector.

Member States will convene follow-up meetings to advance post-COVID-19 response and recovery, in line with the CARICOM COVID-19 Agri-Food Action Plan and Risk Management Framework.

The CRFM is involved in several initiatives to help Member States address the myriad challenges that confront them, and these initiatives have integrated elements to address and mitigate COVID-19 impacts, as well as a prior mandate of the Ministerial Council to address gender, youth, and decent in all CRFM policies, protocols, programmes, and plans. At their meeting last week, the Ministers also approved the Gender Analysis, Strategy and Action Plan on Gender Mainstreaming in Fisheries for the CRFM countries, which the CRFM developed through a recently concluded project funded by Global Affairs Canada in collaboration with UNDP/ GEF supported Flying fish Sub-project of the CLME+ Project.

The Regional Fisheries Ministers are due to meet again in October 2021 for their 11th Special Meeting, when they are expected to, among other things, consider a Resource Mobilisation Strategy, a Remote Work Policy and the Third CRFM Strategic Plan, to chart the way forward for the next eight years (2022-2030).