The future of Barbados??? economy lies in the sea and not on the land.
That is the opinion of Acting Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Lorna Inniss, who said the island needed to use its assets within the ocean to bring wealth.
She made these comments at the Grand Salle recently during a public lecture hosted by the University of the West Indies Open Campus in collaboration with the Central Bank of Barbados on the topic: The Ocean: High Risk Playground or Life-giving System.
???If you are looking for wealth out of a 166 square miles that is not much, and at some point you are going to reach your limit. When Barbados had a small population we could use 166 square miles. We could use agriculture, sugar, bananas and we could create enough money that everybody could eat.
???Now our population is at the stage where we need to go beyond the 166 square miles and this is where our visionaries in Barbados decided to switch from just the 166 square miles to go offshore to coastal tourism,??? she pointed out.
Dr. Inniss explained that based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it was agreed that Barbados was bigger than its land space. She explained that this is because the territorial sea has to be taken into consideration, and that goes 12 miles beyond the island???s 166 square miles, while the exclusive economic zone extended to 200 miles.
Describing the coastal water surrounding the island as a ???blue??? economy, the Director said the island could benefit from its assets in the ocean through an expansion of its tourism product, especially coastal tourism.
But, at the same time, she stressed that the island needed to be very careful in how it went about maximising the space, and to carefully assess the possible impacts of any activity undertaken.
Admitting that initially the true value of the ocean was not known, the coastal expert stated that much damage was done through the persistent dumping at sea; the removal of mangroves and sea grass beds; and the erection of sea walls which eventually led to beach erosion.
However, she noted that Barbados had taken control of the situation and established regulations to govern the use of beaches going forward in an effort to protect them. ???Barbados has an excellent regulatory process to protect our assets [the beaches], and we cannot give up on it because of financial challenges,??? she stressed, dismissing claims that the island was over-regulated when it came to coastal matters.
She reiterated that all new developments and renovations must go through the Chief Town Planner, the CZMU, the Barbados Water Authority and other regulatory agencies, depending on the nature of the project.?????We need to mitigate and we can???t give up on our regulatory process,??? Dr. Inniss maintained.