Barbados’ blue economy, its assets, people, their skills and the potential that rests within the sector came into sharp focus during the National Blue Economy Flotilla at Carlisle Bay on Sunday.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, gave the assurance that Government would continue its work in building out the architecture for the maritime industry.
Speaking during a brief ceremony to announce the start of the event, Mr. Humphrey outlined that will involve digital information and technology and could see at least 1, 000 jobs could be created in the maritime space over the next year to a year and a half.
He explained that as changes occurred across the world and in the shipping industry, Barbados too would be required to change with those times, through measures such as digital information and technology.
However, Mr. Humphrey made it clear that those changes would go beyond drug and gun interdiction, and the capture of illegal unregulated and unreported fishing, and extend to the administrative side.
The architectural build-out of the blue economy would also see the Ministry continuing its efforts to update legislation governing the maritime space, with Cabinet recently approving legislation to protect Barbadian seafarers.
Such legislation includes the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL) Bill, which was recently passed and allows for a speedier process in shipping, and prevents vessels from idling in Port, and the separation of domestic and international shipping.
Mr. Humphrey further noted that it was also necessary for Barbados to build-out its physical architecture in the maritime sector, with work being done on haul out facilities for vessels.
“So far, we’ve been working on one at Pile Bay, and we will be starting one very soon in Bridgetown. We are repairing the one at Consett Bay…,” he said.
The Minister also noted that the master plan for the Port included a massive haul-out facility for ships, along with a boatyard to allow ships to be cleaned and repaired while in country.
“So, we can start thinking seriously about shipbuilding in this country. It is about paying homage to our history in a way that is reflected in everything that we do,” Mr. Humphrey stated.
Sunday’s flotilla was hosted in four phases, and witnessed by Governor General and President-elect, Dame Sandra Mason; Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley; other members of Cabinet; Governor General of Antigua, Sir Rodney Williams; President of Trinidad and Tobago, Paula-Mae Weekes, and other dignitaries.
A total of 62 vessels were on show, including the Barbados Coast Guard vessel, the HMBS Rudyard Lewis, 30 18-foot dinghies, vessels representing the fisherfolk, water sports operators, and sailing clubs.