Member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will strengthen the region’s response to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing through coordinated actions at both the national and regional levels. Such was the outcome of a meeting of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) on illegal fishing and organized crime in the fishing industry.
The March meeting took place in Belize with over 90 participants from 15 CRFM member states in attendance, in an initiative supported by the United Nations Development Program, and the government of Norway. “This meeting marks an important milestone in the region’s efforts to strengthen the response to this challenging and costly problem,” the CRFM said following the meeting.
Member countries pledged to strengthen cooperation and use state-of-the-art digital technology to bolster the region’s response to IUU fishing and transnational organizations’ criminal activities, such as drug, human and arms trafficking, smuggling of goods, fraud and document forgery, and tax crimes and money laundering, among other crimes, which use commercial and recreational fishing as a cover for their activities, the organization said.
“It is our quest in the Caribbean to partner with all international agencies to ensure that we reduce criminal activities when it comes to the Blue Economy,” Saboto Cesar, minister of Fisheries for St. Vincent and the Grenadines told Caribbean National Weekly. “We intend to work with regional and international partners and other friendly governments.”
According to estimates from Washington, D.C.-based nongovernmental organization Oceana, up to 30 percent of seafood caught worldwide comes from IUU fishing, valued at approximately $50 billion annually.
“IUU fishing can include fishing without authorization, ignoring catch limits, operating in closed areas, and fishing with illegal gear or for prohibited fish or wildlife,” Oceana said. “These illicit activities can destroy essential habitat, severely deplete fish populations, and threaten global food security.”