BARBADOS – Fish processing facilities and fishermen around the Caribbean now have access to a new online hub of information for fisheries food safety thanks to the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture’s (IICA) unveiling of a new fisheries food safety portal.

With funding from the European Union (EU) under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Programme, the center was established in partnership with the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), which is based in Belize.

“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,” said EU Ambassador to Barbados, Malgorzata Wasilewska.

The hub provides resources, such as those from the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations’ (CNFO) Leadership Institute, to assist fishermen in strengthening food safety in the region by improving the handling and storage of seafood at sea and in markets .

It is linked with the e-Library of the project which offers authoritative digital resources dedicated to stakeholders interested in Agricultural Health, Food Safety, and Food Quality in the CARIFORUM region.

IICA and the CRFM developed the hub for stakeholders from both the public and private sectors in the 15-member Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries

IICA is an international organization specializing in agriculture within the Inter-American System. Its mission is to stimulate, promote and support the efforts of the Member States to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being through international technical cooperation of excellence.

“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,” said the Head of IICA’s Agricultural Health, Food Safety, and Quality Programme, Dr. Jose Urdaz.

CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton said the 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”.

He said it will also be used for monitoring the implementation and compliance with trading measures and standards to promote sustainable trade.

“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 percent reduction in the Caribbean’s food import bill by 2025, as mandated by our Heads of Government,” Urdaz said.

The hub will be very helpful to the CNFO, according to CNFO Chairman Adrian LaRodasaid, since it offers another platform for small-scale fishermen to be able to express their message and reach a larger audience, especially those who are not members of the CNFO constituency.

Meanwhile, Udo Karg, Chief Executive Officer of Ocean Delight and acting Chair of the Suriname Seafood Association, pointed out that food safety is a top priority. He sees the hub as a marketing tool that highlights the efforts made in Suriname to ensure fisheries food safety, particularly for exporting to the EU.

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