Dr Harris calls on St. Kitts and Nevis to embrace aquaculture

Dr Timothy Harris (left) listens attentively as Dr Barrington Brown gives an update on St. Kitts and Nevis Aquaculture Pilot Project and Environmental Research (SNAPPER). On the right is Senior Fisheries Officer, Joseph Simmonds.

St. Kitts (April 26, 2010) — Senior Minister with responsibility for Marine Resources, Dr Timothy Harris, has said that while the sea is providing less fish resources than other avenues like aquaculture, St. Kitts and Nevis has a head start in the area of fish farming.

“Fishing under manmade controlled circumstances relative to fishing being conducted in the open natural environment has been the fastest growing area over the last ten years in terms of fisheries output,” reported Dr Harris.

The Senior Minister made the observation after a visit, last week, to the Conaree Beach-based St. Kitts and Nevis Aquaculture Pilot Project and Environmental Research (SNAPPER), where he concluded that in another ten years more fish would be had from aquaculture and other related types of environment than from the natural sea, lakes and other kinds of water bodies.

Accompanied by the Senior Fisheries Officer, Joseph Simmonds, Minister Harris was on an invitation to tour the project, his first since taking over the Marine Resources docket, by the project coordinator and chief operating officer, Dr Barrington Brown. The project has been ongoing since 1999.

Dr Barrington Brown (centre) shows Dr Harris (right) and Simmonds some of the fish ponds.

“I want to firstly commend him (Dr Brown) for the initiative he has taken in getting into a hitherto untried area of operation,” said Minister Harris. “This adds an interesting dimension to our marine outlook in that largely we have in the main been involved primarily in sea fishing and the development of aquaculture has not yet taken off in St. Kitts.”

He recalled that in the past there were efforts in the Canada area of St. Kitts to start a shrimp farm, which did not succeed. But with Dr Brown’s research into fresh water fish (tilapia) farming in brackish water has given St. Kitts a head start, saying it is academically interesting as it provides a new way of looking at knowledge, and a new way of applying technology.

“It is important that St. Kitts and Nevis at least has a head start in that particular technology in that particular approach, because following the global pattern in the end it appears that this is where the world will get its greatest spool of fish resources and we want to be integrated into that particular approach,” said Dr Harris.

He said that his Ministry would have to look into its incentive mechanisms to see how it would be able to get more people of the Barrington Brown type to become involved with fishing. He explained that these would have to be people who have a certain level of preparedness, maturity, interest and knowledge to allow for ongoing self interested research, a lot of which Dr Brown has done to be able to provide the kind of stable leadership over an entity such as SNAPPER.

Dr Barrington Brown watches as fisheries officer attached to SNAPPER, Samuel Hyliger, casts the nets.

Accordingly he revealed that the government has been very helpful to the venture at Conaree, as it have made available the services of one of its more experienced officers at the Fisheries Unit, Samuel Hyliger, to that particular project.

“I left there very satisfied, even more interested as to the prospects for aquaculture in St. Kitts and Nevis and wanting to see what more we can do to sustain ventures like that to help them grow and develop into profitable ventures,” pointed out Dr Harris.

The Minister observed that Dr Barrington Brown has found some degree of interest coming from abroad which he said speaks to the potential for growth, not only domestically but beyond the domestic market and if that can grow, then the country could develop in years to come, a sustainable and prosperous aquaculture industry, that would also earn foreign exchange.

“We are going to add to the level of employment and employment opportunities for people in the country and hopefully as we do all these things we are also improving on the human resources of the country especially skills that such an operation would require, could be developed over time and be made available for ongoing use of these particular entities,” added Minister Harris.

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