The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) generates an incredible amount of data and information for improving fisheries management in the CRFM sub-region, and is a known regional leader and example in strengthening the divides among science, policy and practice through sharing of knowledge to speed up the uptake of best practices.

The CRFM Portal is the doorway to CRFM’s growing and special regional pool of data, information and knowledge, packaged in a user-friendly format for use by all stakeholders, whatever your interests!

The CRFM is co-implementing the marine sub-component of the Caribbean Regional Track of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (Caribbean PPCR), which itself is implemented by the Mona Office for Research and Innovation (MORI) at the University of the West Indies with grant funding from the Climate Investment Fund through the Inter-American Development Bank.

The Caribbean PPCR marine sub-component has been extremely successful so far in generating valuable information about climate change impacts on the fisheries sector. It has also facilitated the creation of a fisher-centric ICT solution, titled Fisheries Early Warning and Emergency Response (FEWER). Outreach activities have been an important inclusion for the marine sub-component, involving fishers and other industry stakeholders in the 6 Caribbean PPCR pilot countries (Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines). This has involved raising strong awareness and increasing engagement about how and what responses to climate change should be immediately explored to protect the industry’s interests.

Susan Singh-Renton, Deputy Executive Director with the CRFM Secretariat and CRFM’s coordinator for the Caribbean PPCR’s marine activities, pointed out that “Keeping the enthusiasm and momentum will be crucial for these 6 beneficiary countries, and this means ensuring that the products are used effectively in adaptation planning so that our fishing industries can continue to perform socially and economically in the face of a changing climate. The CRFM Portal is designed to allow broad user access to datasets, information and knowledge products generated by the CRFM marine sub-component of the Caribbean PPCR, but the Portal is also being used to store products from other major CRFM projects, and national project products, as needed.”

To do just that and to help countries and the region make the best use of the new CRFM Portal, project activities recently included a face to face training session in October 2019 for beneficiary country and regional fisheries experts who are expected to be the first and most frequent users of the Portal.

Having completed the training on the use of the Portal, June Masters, who is the Statistics and Information Analyst at the CRFM Secretariat, noted that “Information and tools generated under the Caribbean PPCR marine sub-component are new information which the region needs to inform and guide adaptation and resilience in Caribbean fisheries to a changing climate. It is therefore important that this information be readily available to not just fisheries scientists but to all stakeholders and the general public. The Portal makes this possible and convenient, as it is a one-stop point that houses all the information and tools generated under the Caribbean PPCR marine sub-component. It is also easily accessed via the CRFM website.”

Jimena Eyzaguirre, Senior Climate Change Adaptation Specialist for ESSA Technologies Ltd., the supporting entity for creating the CRFM Portal, congratulated the CRFM Secretariat in promoting information sharing on climate change and fisheries and in developing a standardized climate change monitoring framework for the sector, and added that “An important message emerging from our work with the CRFM is that no matter current levels of capacity, countries in the region are willing and able to begin increasing the sector’s resilience to climate change.”  According to Tim Webb, ESSA’s Database Design and Development Expert, speaking from a technical standpoint, “Exposure to R and GIS software provided to national fisheries officers as part of project training activities, taken together with ready access to spatial data through the CRFM Portal, show promise in bolstering analytical capabilities in the region.”

Singh-Renton is encouraging everyone to visit and make full use of the CRFM Portal, saying “We appreciate that users can include fishers, fisheries managers, planners, advisors, policy makers, scientists and the general public, and so the CRFM Portal has something for everyone.

Standing group photo of CRFM Workshop Attendees

Workshop attendees included fisheries officers from Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago, technical/ scientific staff from the CRFM Secretariat and UWI, and a team of consultants from ESSA Technologies Ltd.