A 2-day meeting hosted by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) concluded today at the Ramada Princess Hotel in Belize City. The group meeting was aimed at advancing the implementation of a risk insurance facility for fishers in the region. According to information supplied by the CRFM, when Fisheries ministers from CRFM Member States met in Cayman in October 2016, they reviewed the progress made towards the activation of the Caribbean Ocean Assets Sustainability Facility (COAST). This week’s working group meeting, which the CRFM is facilitating in collaboration with the US Department of State, will aid in the selection of a representative sample of Caribbean countries in which the initiative will be piloted. The purpose of this week’s meeting is to chart the steps necessary to qualify a pilot country (or pilot countries) to purchase the COAST insurance product from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility Segregated Portfolio Company (CCRIF SPC) before the start of the hurricane season on June 1, 2017. The CRFM notes that, “The COAST insurance scheme will offer an opportunity for countries to buy insurance to help protect their fisheries sector, and hence their food security, from severe weather while promoting resilience to a changing climate and encouraging the conservation of marine environments.” According to Julia Duncan, who serves in the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Food Security,COAST will provide 180,000 fisher folk and associated industries in the Caribbean access to insurance for losses from severe weather. Duncan said that Jamaica has already expressed interest in COAST, which is also supported in principle by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ministerial group, and the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO), in addition to the CRFM. Joining CRFM Secretariat staff members, US State Department personnel and officials of the US Embassy in Belize at the COAST meeting in Belize, are representatives of the World Bank, which has supported CCRIF SPC, a Cayman-based agency serving 17 Caribbean nations and Nicaragua, in the creation of the COAST insurance product. According to the CRFM, the World Bank also ensures that the project meets the development objectives outlined by the financial donors – the US Department of State – including incentivizing risk reduction and coordinating disaster management.