In a move to use every part of fish and eliminate waste, technology is being introduced to convert fish offal to animal feed and fertiliser, through a project of the Government of Argentina and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
Several local farming interest groups embarked on a one-week workshop to gain an insight into the technique of fish silage, which could reduce imports and create jobs.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop at the Argentine Embassy, Hastings, Christ Church Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey said the initiative is inline with Government’s plans to reduce waste.
He said: “One of the things that is paramount in my ministry is the desire to reduce waste in Barbados.
“I feel very strongly that we must reduce waste by keeping certain things out and when it is already in the system, we have to find ways to keep it circulating without it going to waste.
“If it has to be realized as waste, then we must find a way to convert it into something that is useful.
“There is no greater manifestation in my mind than this fish silage project.”
Humphrey underscored the employment and entrepreneurship opportunities that the project opens up for young people.
“We produce a lot of fish waste in Barbados and I would really like to see that significantly reduced.
“I believe that this is a seed and we would actually see the fruits of our labour in a few years.
“These types of new innovative businesses are what would take Barbados forward, not the traditional ones that people have their minds on.”
The Minister noted that a significant amount of fish is wasted in Barbados and disposing of this waste has always presented a challenge. He explained that it was for this reason that the project was conceptualised last year.
According to the FAO, the first finding of a recent feasibility study on fish silage is that over 11,000 pounds of fish by-products (including the guts and skins) are produced in Barbados each day through post-harvest practices in the fish processing facilities where fish is gutted, skinned and filleted.
The report further noted that only 38 per cent of a whole flying fish actually makes its way onto the consumer’s plate. The total annual production of by-products in Barbados is 3-4 million pounds of fish: more than sufficient justification to seek alternative uses, as this by-product currently ends up at the landfill.
The fish silage project is to explore the conversion of the parts of the fish that are typically discarded into safe and nutritious products for livestock consumption.
The unutilized fish parts can be converted into liquid fish silage with the help of enzymes in the fish itself, which break it down into smaller pieces, with an acid that is added to speed up the process and prevent bacterial spoilage.
Humphrey expressed gratitude to the Argentine Government for following through on its commitment to Barbados.
“The world is filled with promises which embassies and international organisations do not follow through on, commitments that have not been met and partnerships which have not been realized.
“So I am very thankful to see that this has been realized in a short space of time and it speaks to the commitment of the Embassy of Argentina and the UN agencies as well as the Government of Barbados.