The first-ever Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy has made significant improvements to fisheries, fish markets and shipping legislation since its appearance in the Mia Mottley administration, Minister Kirk Humphrey declared Monday.
He made the comments at a consecration ceremony for the ministry’s new headquarters on the ground floor of Cube Blue, located in the new Barbados Port Inc. (BPI) building.
Humphrey pointed to ongoing work to improve the jetties at the Bridgetown Fishing Complex and the Berinda Cox Fish Market and the markets at Pile Bay, St Michael, Weston, St James and Consett Bay, St John.
He said: “Hopefully before the end of this month, we will announce the work we did in Pile Bay. Pile Bay is the most beautiful building in the ministry thanks to the work of the Port. Weston hopefully will be as nice. We are also working at Tent Bay to improve the conditions…. We did a lot of work across the various markets.”
The minister in turn called on the facilities’ users to be more efficient, especially in water usage; and to explore additional revenue streams in markets across the country.
Also in fisheries, Humphrey said that substantial work was in the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) – buoys and other floating devices that attract and aggregate open-water fish – which make fish easier to find and catch.
The ministry has also been working to develop boat building and “intelligent buoys” that provided information on different types of marine activity, he said.
“Amazing things are happening,” said the minister. “We are on a real mission to transformation.”
The United Nations Development Programme and the Food and Agricultural Organisation have also worked to boost the ministry’s capacity.
But on shipping legislation, Barbados, which Humphrey said has lagged behind international standards, has now made “substantial ground”.
He said a review of the legislation by the International Maritime Organisation was “not a good audit” but added that “in many ways, we have actually leap-frogged. We needed to bounce forward.”
Executive Officer of the BPI, David Jean-Marie, in welcoming the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy to its headquarters, which coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Port of Bridgetown, lavished praises on the two-year-old ministry.
Traditionally separate departments of the ministries of agriculture and international transport, it is the first to be solely dedicated to the development of the economy and culture of the ocean that sustains thousands of Barbadian lives and livelihoods.
Said Jean-Marie: “You have steered this fledgling ministry towards a path of integration, expansion and re-imagination through a number of very impressive initiatives to enhance the economic benefit from the maritime resources for Barbadians, while changing the lives of persons whose livelihoods depend on the sea and ocean resources.” (SD/BGIS)