Officials at the Fisheries Division have made it clear that they will be making every effort to improve conditions at local fish markets, and in so doing protect the public from food borne diseases.
Acting Manager of the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex, Sherlock King, speaking at a press conference today, said 90 per cent of the vendors and other personnel at that market were trained in proper food handling and hygiene, but most did not implement what was learnt.??
As a result, he said, a number of breaches were observed in markets daily, ranging from temperature abuse where the fish is not placed on ice, unsanitary equipment and containers being used, poor fish handling practices, poor pest control, and inadequate hygiene.
Mr. King also made it clear that the sole objective of their efforts was to give persons who used the facility an opportunity to grow and generate additional income. The Acting Manager explained that the concept of ???from the boat to the throat??? must be employed where sanitary measures were taken, even by boat handlers, from the time the fish were caught, to when they were off loaded. ???The whole objective is to introduce measures to reduce or eliminate the levels of contamination,??? he said.
Mr. King explained that fishing vessels needed to be designed to improve hygiene, while those catching the fish must also take care of their personal cleanliness. ???All people involved must practise a level of personal hygiene,??? he stressed.??
As a result, the Fisheries Division is on a mission to upgrade markets and complete a programme being executed by the National Agricultural Health and Food Control Programme (NAHFCA).Under NAHFCA, Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) would be prepared as a guide for those in the industry to follow, in an effort to prevent food borne illnesses. These SSOPs will require vendors to comply with water safety and have the requisite amount of ice, the correct personal and employee hygiene and pest control measures in place.
Mr. King added that while these measures would be introduced at all public markets, they would also apply to landing sites across Barbados. These sites include Pile Bay, St. Michael; Half Moon Fort, St. Lucy; Martin???s Bay, St. John; and Six Men???s, St. Peter.??In addition, he said the upgrading of the facilities at the Fisheries Complex would also see an extension of the cover in the area, where fish are hauled to prevent them from suffering from temperature increases when brought to shore.??
Display cases are also being installed at markets where vendors can showcase their fish on ice to reduce the likelihood of being contaminated by bacteria.??Between 2,000 and 3,000 metric tonnes of fish are landed in Barbados annually. These landings include flying fish, dolphin, tuna and bill fish.