Measures to rationalise and regulate the fishing fleet and market infrastructure to ensure Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) compliance have been put in place by the Government of Barbados.

This was disclosed by Project Coordinator of the Ministry of Agriculture???s National Agricultural Health and Food Control Agency, Dr. Beverley Wood, during the presentation of the National Consultation of the Fisheries SPS Legal Mission at the Accra Beach Hotel today.

Dr. Wood explained that the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) project was extremely important to Barbados.

???The implementation of this project, albeit at a regional level, is timely for Barbados as it seeks to develop model legislation to address the SPS issues in fisheries; and to provide CARIFORUM guidelines on sanitary standards for fishery and aquaculture products for human consumption,??? she added.

The Project Coordinator said that in 2011, Government requested assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to assess the fishing industry in several areas, including infrastructure, markets, fishing boats, and landing sites.

She noted that after the assessment was made, a number of changes were carried out within the Ministry, which included infrastructural work at the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex; the improvement of various landing sites; the implementation of dress codes; and the enforcement of hygienic practices and training programmes for vendors.

Dr. Wood was of the view that the fishing industry played an important role in the ???nutritional, economic, social wellbeing and food security of Barbadians, while earning valuable foreign exchange for the country???. She stressed that all stakeholders must play their part to ensure that the fishing industry remained viable and successful.

???….the improvement to the fisheries in Barbados not only resides with Government through its regulatory agencies but is also the responsibility of the private sector. Government???s responsibility is to provide a system through legislation and inspection that would assure its trading partners and the public of safe fish and fishery products. It is the role of the private sector to put in place the necessary food safety systems and have them validated by the public sector,??? she emphasised.

Meanwhile, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Representative to Barbados and Management Co-Coordinator of the Caribbean Region, Ena Harvey, said that the European Union-sponsored SPS programme was designed to ???strengthen the capacity of CARIFORUM States for international market access through compliance with Europe???s Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, as well as improve capacity for developing regionally harmonised SPS measures???.

She added that the main focus of the project, which was implemented by IICA on September 3, 2013, is to alleviate constraints in the areas of legislation, coordination and capacity building.

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