Government has announced a proposal to stop overfishing in the island’s waters and reduce the need for local fishermen to sail to Trinidad to ply their trade, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey said this morning.
A number of managed and protected marines areas are to be established at various offshore locations in order to boost the replenishment of quickly depleting fish stocks in Barbadian waters, he said.
Speaking to reporters after touring the Millie Ifill Fish Market at Weston, St James, Humphrey – who was accompanied by area MP and Home Affairs Minister Edmund Hinkson – revealed that he will be taking a paper to Cabinet within the next two weeks to set up marine protected areas in Carlisle Bay and Folkstone, St James.
While the issue of local fishermen being arrested by Trinidadian authorities for fishing in their territorial waters has been partially resolved, he said, his greater desire is to see Barbadian fishermen plying their trade in their own waters.
“I think a bigger issue for me really . . . [is] we have to find a way to protect the fish stock in Barbadian waters. There has been a lot of overfishing in Barbados. There’s been fishing in areas where we shouldn’t fish. We fished out the fish and left lion fish – and lion fish as you know is a predatory fish . . . it is killing all the other fish,” he said.
Some fishers have thrown down their fish pots and left them in the water resulting in schools of fish being killed, he noted.
As the Government will be bringing about change in the industry the Minister of Maritime Affairs suggested that fisherfolk themselves do things differently in the 21st Century.
“There are some things that we have to change, some habits Barbadian fishermen also have to change as we try to go forward in a new fishing industry. We [have] spoken in our manifesto and quite recently we have spoken to what we call the marine protected areas . . . managed areas. We’ve done one at Folkestone, but we know we need to improve that . . . and I’m taking a paper to Cabinet very soon to discuss that. We are also going to make Carlisle Bay a marine protected area,” Humphrey disclosed.
He explained that the rationale behind this move is not only to allow the fish to restore themselves but help coral reefs, breeding grounds for fish, to recover.
“Then you would hopefully start to generate a
greater fishing supply in Barbados,” said Humphrey, while touting the governing party’s constitution as being pro-regional.
“I think the Labour Party constitution is still the only one in the region that speaks to regionalism. We are not going to stand in Barbados and yell at anybody in Trinidad. We are going to work with our partners in the region to come to some collective understanding that works for both parties,” he suggested.