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Caricom’s agri ministers endorse Common Fisheries Policy

From left: Minister for Agriculture and Forestry of Dominica, Matthew Walter, Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Roland Bhola of Grenada, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy and Officer-in-Charge of Trade and Economic Integration in CARICOM, Desiree Field-Ridley at the press conference following the COTED meeting at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GINA photo)

CARICOM’s ministerial Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has endorsed the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the ministers are hoping it takes effect sometime in 2014.

COTED met on Friday to consider the recommendations out of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture which ended earlier in the day in Guyana.

“The Ministers of Agriculture and COTED endorsed the Common Fisheries Policy and commended it for approval. At this stage the Common Fisheries Policy will be sent through the Legal Affairs Committee of CARICOM,” Guyana’s Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said in response to a question.

He added that the ministers all committed to urge their Attorneys General to complete their internal reviews and move it on for approval. Countries have up to the end of January 2014 to complete the vetting process. Subsequent to that it will be sent to the region’s Council for Foreign and Community Relations and then the CARICOM Heads for their approval.

“Our hope is that that process can be completed in time that it will move to the Heads for signature so let’s just say 2014,” Dr. Ramsammy said.

The CFP will afford CARICOM Member States the opportunity for structured collaboration and cooperation in the conservation, management and use of their living marine and aquatic resources, and will allow for an orderly and predictable approach to the terms for entry by Third States in the Common Fisheries Zone.

It would also facilitate sub-regional arrangements for the management of fishing stocks of interest to them, and which are currently not subject to any management regime.

Efforts to establish the Policy were initiated in 2003 at the 14th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government but the text of a draft agreement was only settled in 2008 after years of negotiations.