Fisherfolks and fish processing establishments in the Caribbean will now benefit from a new online hub that provides fisheries food safety resources following today’s (March 29) launch of the Fisheries and Food Safety.
The initiative was launched by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in collaboration with the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) through funding from the European Union (EU).
Malgorzata Wasilewska, EU ambassador said: “At the European Union, we view our environmental and health ambitions – set in the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy – as drivers for raising global standards through trade. Ensuring fisheries’ food safety is at the core of these standards, allowing not only for exports to the EU but also within Caribbean countries.
We, therefore, welcome the launch of the Fisheries Food Safety Hub which will serve as a learning platform for stakeholders and as a product of the longstanding partnership between the EU, IICA, and CRFM.”
The Fisheries and Food Safety Hub is set to increase the accessibility to fisheries food safety and complication information.
The hub will provide guides and manuals, training videos, infographics, and policy documents covering the entire fisheries value chain including pre-harvest, harvest, and post-harvest.
It also provides informative videos and modules used to train staff at Suriname’s Ocean Delight The Hub features resources to help fishers improve the handling and storage of seafood at sea and markets.
The hub was developed for stakeholders from both the public and stakeholders in the fifteen CARIFORUM countries.
“Having ready access to current scientifically based information on a timely basis is fundamental for strengthening compliance with international Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and ultimately contributes towards improved market access and trade in the Caribbean Region.
Hence IICA is very pleased to collaborate with the CRFM with funding from the European Union to develop this important information resource for the fisheries sector,” Dr Jose Urdaz head of IICA’s Agricultural Health, Food Safety and Quality Programme.
For his part, Milton Haughton, executive director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism said: “The Fisheries Food Safety Hub is a very important development and will be beneficial to all our stakeholders in the CARIFORUM countries—from producers to consumers, as well as national and regional regulatory authorities with responsibility for ensuring safe and wholesome supplies of fish and fishery products to local markets, and for monitoring the implementation and compliance with trading measures and standards to promote sustainable trade.”
He added that “this is of particular importance given that food safety is of the highest priority, especially in the context of expanding trade while also reaching the target of a 25 per cent reduction in the Caribbean’s food import bill by 2025, as mandated by our Heads of Government.”
Adrian LaRoda, chair of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations, said: “The Hub itself will be very beneficial to the CNFO, as it is another platform for us, small-scale fishers, to be able to share our
message… to reach a greater number of participants, particularly those who are not within the CNFO constituency.”
LaRoda added that CNFO members will take advantage of the Fisheries Food Safety Hub, and they will continue to update the information from the CNFO Leadership Institute which is featured on the Hub and use the platform as a part of their ongoing efforts to strengthen the capacity of fishers in the Caribbean.
Udo Karg, the acting Chair of the Suriname Seafood Association and CEO of Ocean Delight underscored that food safety is the highest priority. One of Suriname’s export establishments, Ocean Delight, is featured on the Fisheries Food Safety Hub, as one of the entities which received training under the 11th EDF SPS Measures Project. All the materials for that training are available for open access on the Fisheries Food Safety Hub.
Karg also sees the Food Safety Hub as a marketing tool which demonstrates the work done in Suriname to ensure fisheries’ food safety, particularly for exporting to the EU.
Eardley Simmons, managing director of Bequia Seafood in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which has been in operation since October 2017, agreed that the Fisheries SPS Hub can be used as a tool to strengthen capacity in the fisheries sector.
He said that they would greatly benefit if they could get assistance from another processing plant to train their workers, and this exchange could help them to improve their standards by learning from what other establishments have been doing to address their challenges. Bequia Seafood could, in turn, offer training to other establishments in the region.
The resources that are showcased on the Fisheries Food Safety Hub will help persons in the fisheries and aquaculture sector to strengthen their knowledge of food safety, especially the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures that are important for trade within and outside of the Caribbean Region.