Business View Caribbean | Volume 8, Issue 8

12 BUSINESS VIEW CARIBBEAN VOLUME 8, ISSUE 8 SPECIAL, highlighted the Region’s negligible contribution to the problems of overfishing and overcapacity. The OECS, for example, accounted for 0.013 per cent of global fish catch between 1950 and 2016, according to the Hon. Keisal Peters, Minister of State with Responsibility for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who spoke on behalf of the OECS. The Hon. Ramon Cervantes, Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize indicated that Belize’s fishing industry was primarily artisanal and directly supported small scale fishers and the livelihood of over 15,000 Belizeans. “Supporting the fisheries sector is of critical importance as it contributes significantly to the socio-economic well-being of fisher folks and their families. Therefore, Belize wishes to see the proposal on de minimis be placed in the text, exempting small players that have negligibly contributed to the severely exploited marine resources,” Minister Cervantes said. Trinidad and Tobago’s contribution to global fish catch was miniscule, accounting for less than 0.02 per cent, the Hon. Clarence Rambharat Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries of Trinidad and Tobago told the meeting. “Our country does not contribute significantly to global fish catches and our fleet is predominantly artisanal in nature with over 95% of vessels fishing in waters under national jurisdiction. Whilst the fishing may be of a commercial undertaking, in the wider global context, it is characteristically barely above subsistence level. Compared to other fishing nations, our subsidies and fish catches are very small, but the fisheries resources are key to the livelihood and wellbeing of our people, particularly to coastal and rural communities. Accordingly, we need more policy space than is provided in the current draft text,” he said. Barbados also weighed in, noting that it does not engage in large-scale industrial fishing and could not be considered “by any stretch of the imagination to be a subsidiser of any significance. In fact, my country’s share of global marine capture fisheries production, in terms of metric tons, has consistently been infinitesimal. Barbados maintains its call for special and differentiation treatment, which is mandated, through an exemption for Members whose share of global marine capture fisheries production, is below a defined de minimis level within the overcapacity and overfishing section, of the agreement,” said the Hon. Sandra Husbands, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Barbados. Saint Lucia representative, Amb. Stephen Fevrier told the meeting that to unlock the progress required to conclude the negotiations, it was “vital that flexibilities be conferred on those of us that do not deploy systemically relevant subsidies.” Minister Todd acknowledged that the negotiating text showed incremental progress on many important elements, but argued that the principles of equity and fair play that CARICOM representatives had consistently advocated for needed to be reflected in the text in order to achieve “an acceptable agreement.” The Hon. Kamina Johnson-Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica delivered a statement on behalf of the ACP while the Hon. Renward Ricardo Wells, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources spoke on behalf of The Bahamas.