Fisheries officer wants nation to adopt aquaculture in a big way

Speaking with, Sam Heyliger a fisheries veteran at the Department of Marine Resources said the world is trending towards aquaculture as a more productive means of providing protein rich food for consumers.

In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) describes aquaculture as “probably the fastest growing food-producing sector, which now accounts for nearly 50 percent of the world’s food fish.” By the year 2020, the FAO predicts that over 75 percent of the world’s fishery will be done by aquaculture.

Heyliger told that currently fishers are landing between 300 tons to 500 tons of fish annually from capture fishery representing a highly fluctuating situation. He said the highest capture could be doubled on a sustained basis, if land is available to develop the sector.

He said, “The technology is there. Our major challenge is that those who are charged with the distribution of land, when they did the plan, were suggesting we use the salt ponds for aquaculture, and we said to them that doesn’t work.”

According to Heyliger, since the early 1990s, the Le Vallee area was identified as a suitable area for aquaculture development. “All the experts who came suggested that area as well, because the aquaculture can be done in the sea and on land in that area of the island,” he said.

Heyliger informed that an aquaculture development strategy already exists and is ready to be implemented. “All we need to do now is to really put it in place, but it cannot happen without the land,” Heyliger pointed out, as he indicated that 100 acres of land can get a new industry started in the federation.

“With a hundred acres of land, we can produce more fish on that land than we can capture from the wild harvest,” he said, adding, “We’ve done the figures.”

He explained, also, that aquaculture provides the potential for new businesses and new areas of expertise to develop, in what he said is a very wide field that would include managers, lab technicians, accountants, electricians, plumbers and other skilled persons. “It could be a source for new careers for young people,” Heyliger said.

He goes further to indicate that aquaculture could be another tourism attraction in similar fashion to the Eco-Park, just outside Sandy Point.

“It will be good for us to do that sought of thing. At the end, it is about food security we’re talking about. These are the things we are saying aquaculture can do for the country,” Heyliger stated.

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