Between 30 and 70 per cent of fish caught by local fishermen is currently being wasted. This alarming statistic has prompted the government to fast track an initiative aimed at transforming the wasted catches into opportunities for Barbadians.
Representatives from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Agriculture and Fisheries as well as Youth and Community Empowerment today met with officials from the Argentinean Embassy and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to outline a plan aimed at maximizing the economic and social benefits of the local fishing industry.
With new technology and expert insight, stakeholders said they were embarking on a project which could unlock employment opportunities for youth and women, reduce the operating cost of local farmers and help preserve the country’s oceans all at once.
The project, entitled the “Fish Waste Silage” project is aimed at transforming parts of the fish which currently go to waste into perfectly safe, nutritious products for human and livestock consumption.
According to Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, the project could significantly increase the over 6000 jobs currently offered by the fishing industry.
“We are not catching enough fish. And even though we are not catching enough fish, a lot of what we do catch is wasted . . . they say up to 30 to 70 per cent of every fish is wasted in Barbados and that is indeed too high, so this project is so vitally important because it gives us the opportunity to reduce the wastage of the fish by finding ways to use more fish, but more importantly by utilizing that for something else,” said Humphrey, who added that a large percentage of the fish caught was thrown back into the nearshore, polluting the waters around the island and creating an environmental hazard.
“We need to think in a much bigger way about the way we treat to fish and I’m very thankful that we will be able to use this space [the blue economy] to create something very beneficial.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir added that the production of feed from fish could yield tremendous benefits for farmers struggling to make ends meet, given the high cost of imported feed for their livestock.
Meanwhile, the youth minister Adrian Forde said the hundreds of jobs which could potentially be created from the project could improve youth unemployment which currently stands at 27 per cent. He said by “putting their hands to good use,” youth would be less inclined to get involved in antisocial behaviour.