Caribbean takes major step towards sustainable management of living marine resources

CARTAGENA, Colombia — On Sunday, the wider Caribbean celebrated World Oceans Day with a major achievement that brings the region one step closer to ensuring a brighter future for the seas and for the people that depend for their livelihoods on the marine environment.

Over the past month, ministers from 18 different countries from South, Central and North America and the Caribbean have formally endorsed the ten-year “Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of the shared Living Marine Resources of the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems” (“the CLME+ SAP”).

Other countries from the region have indicated their interest in also expressing their formal support for the initiative in the coming days and weeks. On May 31, the regional Action Programme was further also already explicitly endorsed by the Council of Ministers of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM-CARICOM) at its seventh Meeting, held in Christ Church, Barbados.

The action programme, which sets forward regional strategies and actions to deal with critical threats to the marine environment such as unsustainable fisheries, habitat degradation, pollution and climate change, was developed under a four-year project called “CLME”.

The CLME Project was co-funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in coordination with the countries of the region, and with the assistance of sister UN agencies and a multitude of regional partners, including: UNOPS, UNEP CEP, IOC of UNESCO (IOCARIBE), FAO-WECAFC, OSPESCA, CRFM, CERMES-UWI and many others.

The project’s aim was to foster collaboration among Caribbean countries by developing joint strategies for improving the management of fisheries and for the protection of key marine ecosystems, this as to ensure the future social and economic well-being of the people of the Caribbean.

The Action Programme (SAP) provides countries, regional organizations, civil society and development partners with a comprehensive roadmap for resolving critical issues affecting living marine resources. The SAP combines actions for structural change and capacity building at the regional, sub-regional and national levels, with high priority management interventions and investments on the ground, and is expected to catalyze actions and investments worth well over US$100 million in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems over the next five to ten years. Special attention will be given to actions that further allow for more sustainable fisheries and for the protection of key marine habitats (e.g. through the strengthening of the networks of marine protected areas).

The achievement of the region-wide high-level political endorsement of the CLME+ Strategic Action Programme is considered “historical” by the GEF – the world’s largest public donor supporting projects for the protection of the global environment- with “the Caribbean breaking the record of largest numbers of countries to jointly agree on a marine ecosystem-based action programme” since the initiation of the GEF’s activities following the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.

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