Categorized | Business, National News

Fisheries Industry Set for Rise with BAMSI Plans

When considering the value placed on food security by nations worldwide, The Bahamas should count its blessings that the tongue of the ocean and an amazing plethora of blue holes and other geographical wonders keep millions of fish teeming in its waters.

However in 2015, the country still has a long way to go in even recognizing the critical value of this national asset. Our fisheries resources must not only be properly explored for industry, but also sustained for ages to come.

The fisheries industry of The Bahamas, for its survival must learn how to cooperate with the scientific community in order to find a balance between conservation and sustainable utilization of our fisheries resources, according to Ambassador Godfrey Eneas, chairman of BAMSI, the Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Science Institute.

While the Department of Fisheries has served as a regulatory agency, BAMSI will now bring the vital educational component to the fisheries infrastructure. Not only does the institute provide associates degree courses in agriculture, marine sciences and aquaculture, but there are also specialized courses in plant protection, soil science, agribusiness and entrepreneurship, and farm management.

For those unable to commit to degree programs, BAMSI provides short courses in aquaponics, agritourism, agribusiness and entrepreneurship.

“The orientation in marine sciences at secondary, tertiary and professional development levels has been recognized to be of national importance if meaning and effect is to be given to our enunciated policy for the primacy of food production and food security as an economic growth strategy,” said Ambassador Eneas.

The abundance of the country’s fisheries resources must be balanced against its delicate environment and sustainable fishing practices.

The Nassau Grouper spawning aggregations have been exploited to the point of collapse throughout most of the range of the species.

The Bahamas contains most of the remaining Nassau Grouper aggregations that still exist in the Western Central Atlantic.
The aggregation study is based on the grouper being tagged with innovative satellite tags. This represents the first ever attempt to use this technology on groupers.

Investigations are essential to determine the status of exploitation and abundance of the spiny lobster, while collaborative work on the Queen Conch population assessment in conjunction with the Department of Marine Sciences will be undertaken.

Ambassador Eneas made his remarks at a recent Bahamas Chamber of Commerce event, where he told business owners that in global trending, sales of farmed fish have now far surpassed the sales of fish caught in the wild.

So much so, that even in The Bahamas where the wild fish is abundant, tilapia can be more readily found at restaurants on land.

“In essence, mankind eats more fish from farms than they eat from the sea,” he said. “The reason is because man has exploited our natural environment to the point where some species of fish are no longer in commercial quantities. It is this reason that we in The Bahamas are eating tilapia for instance, when we order fish sandwiches or fish fingers at most fast food chains and local restaurants.”

In a February, 2014 press release from the World Bank, it states that Aquaculture – or fish farming – will provide close to two thirds of global food dish consumption by 2030 as catches from wild capture fisheries level off and demand from an emerging global middle class, especially China, substantially increases.

The Marine Science department has constructed a modern 65,000 square feet aquaponics/aquaculture facility for the production of fish and vegetables.

Once operational, the facility will be used to train both students and potential stakeholders in the principles of integrated aquatic production systems which will be used to produce tilapia (which will be called BAMSI Perch) and a variety of high valued micro-greens and vegetables (lettuce, kales, swiss chard, arugula, bok choi, etc.) At some point, shrimp will take place.

The Marine Department is headed by Dr. Villierre Deleveaux, a graduate of the University of Miami’s Rosenstein School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

Dr. Deleveaux is presently conducting research with BAMSI students on the Nassau Grouper, spiny lobster, and Queen Conch.
Ambassador Eneas said the aim is for BAMSI to provide the way for food production that is competitive, technology driven, environmentally friendly, and productive.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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