IICA launches food fisheries safety hub for the region

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) on Wednesday launched a new fisheries food safety hub, allowing fish processing establishments and fishers across the Caribbean to have access to a new online hub of fisheries food safety resources.

The hub was launched in collaboration with the Belize-based Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) with funding from the European Union (EU) under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Project.

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

“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,” she added.

The hub features resources to help fishers improve the handling and storage of seafood at sea and at markets, and strengthen food safety in the region, including the Leadership Institute of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO).

IICA and the CRFM developed the hub for stakeholders from both the public and private sectors in the 15 member Caribbean Forum (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,” 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 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,” Urdaz said.

CNFO chairman, Adrian LaRodasaid said the hub 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.”

Acting chair of the Suriname Seafood Association and chief executive officer of Ocean Delight, Udo Karg, said that food safety is the highest priority and regards the hub as a marketing tool which demonstrates the work done in Suriname to ensure fisheries food safety, particularly for exporting to the EU.

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