4th Meeting of the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem (CLME) Project culminates with approval of 10-year Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of Shared Living Marine Resources
The meeting was organized by the “CLME” Project – a multi-million dollar project which covers the almost 4,5 million km2 of marine space constituted by the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (also called “LME”s).
The CLME Project aims at reversing the trends of environmental degradation in the project area, which is well known for its rich natural features, including coastal and pelagic fishery resources, beaches and coral reefs, and associated biological diversity. As with many other marine areas in the world, the region has been suffering from environmental problems such as overfishing, habitat degradation, pollution, invasive species and climate change.
The CLME’s Strategic Action Programme focuses on enhancing region-wide coordination and collaboration among all countries surrounding the Caribbean LME. Many of the economically important marine species -as well the environmental problems that affect these species- are transboundary in nature, meaning they are shared among the countries. For this reason, over the past decades, the critical need for joint, concerted action to ensure the sustainable use and protection of these natural resources has become increasingly recognized.
On Wednesday 6 March 2013 at the 4th and final Steering Committee Meeting of the “Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem” Project convened in the city of Cartagena, Colombia, many years of preparatory work culminated in the technical approval of a 30-page document: the CLME Strategic Action Programme (SAP). This document provides both participating countries and the donor community with a framework and guidelines for concerted action in the fields of fisheries enhancement, fisheries sustainability, biodiversity and ecosystem protection, and alternative livelihoods. Now that the document was approved at the technical level by the Steering Committee, it will be be brought to the responsible ministries in all participating countries for their political endorsement, after which new investments can be attracted to the region to help implement the programme.
Together with the participating United Nations agencies and regional organizations, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) –the entity that co-financed the CLME Project- applauded this remarkable achievement by the participating countries. The representative highlighted the extraordinary nature of the event: “this is the largest number of participating countries ever to agree upon such a regional plan since the initiation of the GEF’s global Large Marine Ecosystem programme back in the nineties”. The GEF representative at the meeting further provided insights on how the organization –as the world’s largest funder of projects to improve the global environment- could further assist the CLME countries in implementing the highest-priority actions of this Strategic Action Programme.
- Globally, Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) produce about 80% of the annual marine fisheries catch. Many of these LMEs are shared by multiple countries, making collaboration among nations essential for ensuring the sustainable use of the associated natural resources
- In the Caribbean alone, the fisheries sector brings approximately US$ 1.2 billion annually in export earnings into the region
- Twenty-five million tourists choose to holiday in the Caribbean each year, largely attracted by the region’s climate and richness in natural features, in particular those related to its marine environment. Dependence on tourism implies dependence on the capacity of the marine ecosystems to continue providing the services, goods and conditions which make the region such a popular destination.
- The 4th Meeting of the CLME Steering Committee -which was co-chaired by Bahamas and the host country Colombia- took place in the city of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, on 5 and 6 March 2013. The meeting counted with representatives from a record number of 21 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States of America. Contributions were further also received from Barbados, Mexico, Nicaragua and Grenada who could not travel to Cartagena but provided inputs via alternative means.
- The CLME Project is being implemented through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in direct collaboration with other international and regional organizations such as the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO -Caribbean Office (IOCARIBE), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC), the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the Organization of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA), the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies of the University of the West Indies (CERMES/UWI), and many more.
- The CLME project is open to collaboration with all territories, states and organizations in the project region.