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

Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, is urging groups seeking to protect the marine life to come together under one body.

He said it should be the “first and urgent order of business” where someone is empowered to speak on behalf of everyone else.

Speaking during the opening of Dive Fest Barbados 2019 at the Copacabana Beach Bar on Tuesday night, Minister Humphrey said he sometimes found it difficult to get information to people in the field because there were so many “little” groups.

“You need a person who speaks on behalf of everybody else because in this moment in time there is too much to do for us to operate in silos, or move forward with egos,” he said.

The minister told those gathered that his ministry was presently having conversations with the Nature Conservancy to form a Conservation Trust.

That, he explained, is going to be a group with all who have an interest in the ocean to ensure that it is managed properly.

Mr. Humphrey also extended an invitation to those interested in assisting with the management of the Folkestone Marine Reserve and Carlisle Bay to respond to newspaper ads for assistance, rather than waiting until the deadline date has passed.

“We could have the opportunity for the fish to replenish themselves, to protect the reefs and sink more artificial reefs to do more for the area that will be of benefit to Barbados,” he said.

However, he said that would be a process that would need constant dialogue with the stakeholders as both marine managed areas were extended. 

“It is very difficult to tell a man that he can’t fish in the area where he was accustomed to fishing before. [So], it is a necessary conversation; it is a conversation we are going to have to have, but it is one that we will have to manage,” he said.

Mr. Humphrey told those present that they had an opportunity to transform the way people perceived the industry.

“I hope that we will have a really good working relationship that will allow us to build out this blue economy. This dualism, protecting the ocean and protecting and getting economic gains from it, will always be a tight rope….  There will always be winners and losers…no one person will be entirely satisfied,” the minister said, while adding it was time to reposition Barbados as the most environmentally friendly and sustainable economy in the world.

Meanwhile, Chairman-elect of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Geoffrey Roach, said the organization was happy to partner with Dive Fest Barbados for the third year since its establishment to create a greater awareness, and assist in the protection of the marine life.

“Globally, our oceans are facing severe threats, such as dumping, land runoff and plastic pollution, among others, which cause irreparable damage to our marine life,” he noted.

Dive Fest Barbados runs until Sunday, July 7, and includes activities such as a Conservation Day on Friday, July 5, at the Folkestone Marine Park at 3:00 p.m., where participants will engage in coral reef monitoring, turtle tagging and lion fish hunting.

The recyclable craft race, known as the “Crazy Boat Race” where participants are required to build a boat from recyclable material, will be held on Sunday, July 7, at the Copacabana Beach Club, Bay Street, St. Michael, from 11:00 a.m.

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