BJI Report

Report of the CRFM Ministerial Meeting on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Transnational Organized Crime in the Fishing Industry, Belize City, Belize, 4 October 2021

September 21, 2022

At a high-level Ministerial Meeting convened on 4 October 2021, several Ministers from the Caribbean Community responsible for Fisheries, the Blue Economy and related matters delivered official statements endorsing The International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’) and signed the international cooperation instrument. They also affirmed their support for the Blue Justice Initiative, established by the Government of Norway to support implementation of the declaration.

At the meeting, organized by the Secretariat of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), officials from the CARICOM Secretariat, the Government of Norway, as well as the UNDP’s Nordic Representation Office addressed the Ministers.

This report captures the official remarks from the partners in the initiative, as well as the statements from the CRFM Member States. Statements submitted orally are included, as well as links to the video recordings of the statements from Member States and the recording of the entire proceedings.

Through this milestone achievement, the CRFM and its Member States have embarked upon a course of firm action to utilise innovation and technology, through cross-border and inter-agency collaboration, to address illegal unreported and unregulated fishing and transnational organized crime in the fishing industry, through targeted actions intended to focus on agreed priority areas for mutual benefit.

The Government of Norway, through its representatives from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, has reiterated its commitment to continued collaboration with the region, through immediate next steps that will enable Member States to chart a clear course for achieving tangible results in the near- and medium-term.

For more than a decade, the CRFM’s chief policymaking body, the Ministerial Council, has been working arduously in partnership with other organs of the CRFM and its Member States to address the growing threat of Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing. This Ministerial Meeting provided a forum for the Member States to renew their commitment and collaboration and more specifically, to take action to strengthen regional and international cooperation at the political and technical levels to combat and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fisheries sector in the region.

Chair of the Council, Honourable Minister Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said: “We recognize the value of the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the global fishing industry that was done in Copenhagen, Denmark, in October 2018. It provides a solid framework for countries like ours in the Caribbean to work together with regional and international partners to better understand the problem, share information, and build the necessary legal, regulatory, monitoring, control, surveillance, and enforcement capacity to defeat and eradicate transnational organized crime and IUU fishing.”

Twelve (12) CRFM Member States—The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and The Turks and Caicos Islands—signed the Copenhagen Declaration on this occasion.

Following this Ministerial Meeting, the CRFM Secretariat will collaborate with the UNDP to convene a regional technical meeting with fisheries and security officials from Member States to map out the specific needs and to agree on at least one high-priority intervention that will benefit all CRFM Member States and that could be supported under the Blue Justice Initiative. This is pursuant to the CRFM Ministerial Council Resolution No. MC 15(6) of 2021.

The parties will work together to enhance collaboration with the Blue Justice Initiative, to strengthen the response of CRFM Member States to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and organized crime in the fishing industry, and to leverage the opportunity for collaboration with other interested States and organizations through strategic interventions, using technology and innovations.