Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, greets New Zealand High Commissioner to Barbados, Anton Ojala, at their recent meeting. (GP)

New Zealand High Commissioner to Barbados, Anton Ojala, met recently with Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, following Minister Humphrey’s visit to New Zealand for talks on climate change, oceans and blue economy issues.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Mr Esworth Reid, accompanied Minister Humphrey.

During the visit to New Zealand, Mr. Humphrey and New Zealand Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, agreed to increase cooperation on issues affecting Small Island Developing States, particularly climate change.

Mr. Shaw encouraged Barbados to become a member of the Carbon Neutrality Coalition, given the government’s target of becoming fossil fuel free by 2030. Joining this group of ‘high ambition’ countries under the Paris Agreement would make Barbados the first CARICOM country to do so.

Opportunities to develop knowledge and skills in boat building and maritime affairs in Barbados were also identified in talks with the New Zealand Marine and Composites Industry Training Organisation, consistent with the government’s intention to become the hub for marine services in the Caribbean. 

A visit to the New Zealand Maritime Museum enabled the Minister to see how the New Zealand maritime sector has evolved over the years and to get ideas for how Barbados might establish its own maritime museum.

Minister Humphrey’s visit to the Ports of Auckland provided insight into the initiatives being undertaken to increase efficiency and streamline cooperation between ports across New Zealand.

Given the Caribbean’s dependence on intra-regional trade and Barbados’ leading role in progressing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the Maritime Affairs Minister was enthusiastic about using a similar model in Barbados. 

Mr. Humphrey’s meeting at the Ministry for Primary Industries focused on New Zealand’s fisheries quota management system. He highlighted the usefulness of these discussions, noting that Barbados is currently planning to amend its existing legislation to improve fisheries management.

The Minister also visited the Goat Island Marine Reserve, north of Auckland. He saw first-hand the incredible increase in fish and other marine life not only within the Reserve but in the areas around it as a result of protecting a key area. 

Mr. Humphrey noted the potential for Barbados to improve its natural environment at the same time as increasing fish stocks by improving management of marine areas here.

Barbados has also set its sights on improving its World Bank Ease of Doing Business Ranking and with New Zealand capturing the top spot in the ranking three years in a row, Mr. Humphrey and Mr. Ojala both acknowledged opportunities for the sharing of best practices which could assist Barbados in improving its business environment.

The High Commissioner advised Minister Humphrey that New Zealand would provide funding for research into the science behind the sargassum seaweed influx in the Caribbean.

Mr. Ojala indicated that the growing presence of sargassum in the Caribbean Sea was just one way that the impact of climate change is being felt across the region.

“We recognise that this is a high priority for regional governments and we are exploring options in this field and are excited to move ahead with this project,” Mr. Ojala said.  

Barbadian Terrell Thompson is currently on a New Zealand Government-funded scholarship at New Zealand’s University of Auckland undertaking research on sargassum.

New Zealand High Commission

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