Upgrades to all the island’s fish markets, the creation of new berthing areas for vessels along the western and northern coasts, and a comprehensive plan to manage Barbados’ marine resources are some of the plans the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy has proposed for the coming financial year.
Speaking during debate on the Estimates, in which $15 million was allocated to his portfolio, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey said $4.9 million had been set aside to establish marine managed areas, “which will be a key part of the blue economy we are creating”.
“We took a paper to Cabinet on this and had it approved, and you will soon see us send out a request for proposals for this,” he said.
In response to a question from Member of Parliament for Christ Church West Central, Adrian Forde, Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit Dr Leo Brewster gave further details on the marine management programme as well as some of the work his unit has done over the years to protect the island’s coral reefs.
“We are expanding the managed marine areas, in the first instance, from Weston to Fitts Village, rather than concentrating on the Folkestone Marine Reserve and the area from Heron Bay to Sandy Lane; and instead of focusing on Carlisle Bay just opposite the Bay Street Esplanade, we are expanding that area to cover from the Pierhead in Bridgetown to Rockley,” Brewster said.
“We are also actively planting new corals, but this is a process that will take a long time. We are also pleased to report that private sector operators have cooperated with us in terms of not using anchors on the coral reefs.”
Minister Humphrey also announced that a crane at Oistins, which cost Government $700,000 but was out of commission for the last decade, will be put back into operation.
He added that after the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex is upgraded, improvements will be done at the Berinda Cox Fisheries Complex in Oistins.
“We are setting aside $5.2 million for the fish markets which the last administration completely neglected. Right now, we are changing all the countertops to stainless steel and repairing cupboards at the Bridgetown complex, and we should finish that work between March and April this year. We will then start work on Oistins,” he said.
Humphrey then reassured fellow Members of Parliament – Colin Jordan (St Peter), Edmund Hinkson (St James North) and Charles Griffith (St John) that upgrades were also in the pipeline for facilities in Speightstown, Six Men’s, Weston and Consett Bay.
Regarding the creation of new berths and jetties along the island’s coasts, Humphrey said Barbados had the potential to become a sea transport hub for the Caribbean, having already served that purpose during the slave trade when it was the first port of call for ships coming from Africa.
“From a local perspective, the berths and jetties can be used not only to transport people but cargo as well. So, instead of driving a container truck from Bridgetown to Speightstown you can avoid traffic jams by moving it by sea. And from a regional point of view, we need to get involved in any discussions on inter-island transport. So far, we have been left out of such discussions and there is a prevailing view that extending such services our way will be too costly,” he said.