While Weston St James residents want improved facilities at their fish market, they are, at the same time, demanding that the lone complementary vegetable stall that sits adjunct to the fish selling section also be upgraded.
This request featured prominently when persons of the community held discussions with Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, who joined a town hall gathering over the weekend and relayed Government’s vision for the island’s marine development and future consultations with all involved in the industry.
St James North Member of Parliament Edmund Hinkson, who called the meeting in the car park of the Weston Community Centre, had invited Humphrey to the Sunday gathering where he spoke of plans to expand Barbados’ marine managed areas for fish stock replenishment and the intention to rehabilitate fishing related facilities including Weston’s Millie Ifill Fish Market.
But amid Humphrey’s outlay of those intended improvements, community activist Fay Lucas said, “I am hoping that in your plans you have included the vegetable vendor in that market”.
To applause of all at the meeting, she added that the area needs only that lone vegetable booth and advised the Minister to, “make sure that he [the greengrocer] has a nicer facility which is air-conditioned, has refrigeration and everything that he can still ply his trade so I won’t have to go to Speightstown or Supercentre”.
Lucas said this advice was necessary because the last Government’s plans did not include the booth.
Promising to make the plans electronically available to all concerned residents, Humphrey spoke of an intention to replace the current tiled fish-vending counter with state-of-the-art stainless-steel topping, install toilets inside the refurbished building, “and make it a modern fish market. In fact, if I could make it the model fish market, I would be very happy”.
“We know that we have to make this area reflect how most of the West Coast looks, so this has to be a nice fish market. People work in there and whether it is a fish market or a top villa on the west coast, you have to treat people like people,” he said, noting that plans are also in train for the Bridgetown, Oistins and Pile Bay fish markets.
An area of bother to Government is the number of unused and abandoned fishing boats lying along the island’s coastline. Humphrey said that in about a week’s time the administration will begin moving them.
“Nobody is taking ownership of them except when you try to move them; then somebody owns them and they come and start fixing a board or two or something, but they can’t stay there,” he said and urged negligent boat owners to “come and move the boats and allow somebody else who is interested in occupying the space for productive purposes to be able to use the space”.
He confirmed that the rumoured expansion of the island’s marine managed areas is being considered, and while recognizing that especially small fishermen will be affected, he noted that it is necessary to revitalize Barbados’ fish stock and replenish the reefs.
His support found favour with veteran fisherman Ernie Watts who said that after initial objections, he was encouraged by a TV documentary he viewed on the same measure in Jamaica that proved satisfactory to fishermen after three years.
Pamela Small-Williams suggested an island wide education campaign on the project to appease the fears of some.
Humphrey assured, “there is no way that we would implement a marine managed area without [consulting] with the fishermen. There are two proposed marine managed areas. There is the one at Carlisle Bay which we intend to expand. We invited people to discuss and consult on it,” he said, adding “there is already a marine managed area at Folkstone and we want to expand the area that is marine managed. I don’t think it comes all the way up here”.
He stressed that nothing is yet decided and there is much more consultation to come with all marine and tourism operators and fish vendors.
“We have to find a way to replenish the fish stock in Barbados. We also have to find a way to allow the reef to replenish itself. This may be a way to do it. It worked in other countries I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in Barbados,” he said. (GA)