Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey. (FP)

Belize has called on Barbados to share its experiences, knowledge and how it approached establishing a blue economy ministry as a guide for that county’s own blue economy portfolio, recently established by its Cabinet.

To facilitate this process, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey met virtually with Janelle Chanona of Oceana in Belize recently to share some of the island’s experiences.

Belize hosted a virtual event entitled: What is the Blue Economy? Challenges and Opportunities, to inform the Belizean public about the potential of the blue economy concept.

Speaking during a pre-recorded interview as part of that event, Minister Humphrey said the conversation towards establishing a blue economy for Barbados began as far back as 2012 during the Rio Plus United Nations conference, where countries categorised as small island developing states made a case to be referred to as “big ocean developing states”, with a greater focus on the marine space.

“That was the genesis of the blue economy conversation in 2012. It was led by developing states; it was led by small oceans; it was led by big oceans developing states. Because of this radical genesis it is important for us to stay that course and to continue to make the argument for big ocean states,” the Minister said.

Noting that the blue economy was about life, and the life of the people in a country, Mr. Humphrey explained it was about fishermen, those who worked with jet skis on the beach; people who went diving every day; those who worked on small ships or big ships; and the vendors who worked in the market. “It is everyone,” he stressed.

He added that the Ministry sought to build out Barbados’ coral reefs, strengthen shipping and enhance fisheries.

In his message to Belize, Minister Humphrey encouraged them to undertake measures to protect their coral reef and look at it as a resource.

“It is not just a reef. It is a revenue earner and it generates significant employment too because the tourism industry generates tremendous wealth. When you start looking at it as a resource, you treat it differently. A coral reef protects against storm surges [and] wave surges…. It is about saving lives and part of our resilience. It is a tremendous resource we must protect,” the Minister indicated.

He added that Barbados also undertook measures to strengthen its fisheries and shipping sectors through the strengthening of legislation and exploring ways to do things differently.

This, he said, included a ban on petroleum-based plastics in the island in 2019, the recent development of the single window to increase the pace at which goods could move through the Port and new measures being undertaken with the Food and Agricultural Organization to reduce the wastage of fish.

However, to Belize, he stated: “Know who you are, what you stand for, what you believe in and what you are doing this for and what you determine to be success in the whole scheme of things. Involve everybody…. Go where the people are to get your education.”

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