Minister of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey (centre), poses with (l-r) Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Esworth Reid; SJPI students Shakem Springer and Taejon Cadogan and SJPI Principal, Ian Drakes. (S.Maughan/BGIS)

The blue economy is about life and climate action.

This is according to Minister of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, who said climate action was necessary as the threat of climate change was real.

He made these comments as he delivered the feature address during the launch of the inaugural Blue Fest 2019, hosted by his Ministry at Almond Bay, Hastings, Christ Church, recently.

“The blue economy is about climate action.  We are asking the ocean to do so much for the sake of the earth, and for the sake of those who are alive, but we are not doing a lot for the ocean,” he said.

The Minister further pointed out that the blue economy was also about reducing poverty, creating new jobs and expanding old ones in traditional sectors, gender equity and reducing hunger.

“We also have to make sure that everybody can eat.  Most can eat from the ocean.  The contribution of the ocean allows us to eat and allows us to live,” he said.

However, Minister Humphrey told those present that they were now charged with the responsibility of protecting the ocean, and have the opportunity to make transformative changes going forward.

“Climate change for us has to be the single most important event of our time, [and] the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy has a major role to play in addressing some of these ills,” he said.

One such measure being undertaken is the ban on single use plastics, which took effect from July 1. “It was not because we were trying to stop people from drinking out of a plastic cup, or having their food in a Styrofoam container.  It was part of a bigger perspective – we must protect the ocean,” he stressed.

He added that work conducted by the Coastal Zone Management Unit saw the development of the National Coastal Risk Information Planning Platform (NCRIPP), which must now be integrated within everything done in the blue economy.

The Minister explained that the NCRIPP allowed persons to understand, analyze and assess the potential damage posed by storms and hurricanes, and provided a guide about where to build, areas likely to be impacted by wind and flooding, and how to build out on the coast.

However, while measures are in place, Mr. Humphrey cautioned that at the end of the day, it was the behaviour of the people that was causing a lot of the problems.

“We must offer respect for the ocean.  We also have a resilience that we have attempted to build into,” he said.

During the launch, two students of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology received the Minister’s Award in their respective areas. Taejon Cadogan received his prize for Marine Engineering, while Shakem Springer received his award for Maritime Operations.

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