Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit, Dr. Leo Brewster. (FP)

A call is being made for ocean research to be viewed as an area for potential development and investment as Barbados continues the roll out of its blue economy.

Noting that it was important for science to lead the way, the Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Leo Brewster, stressed that ocean research must be viewed as an area of opportunity for development and potential investment.

“The opportunities for consideration when it comes to research have to be viewed from within the coastal space and the larger ocean space,” he said.

He identified areas of ocean acidification and its impact on coral reefs, new activities for fisheries, fisheries replenishment, mariculture and ocean ranching as potential areas for general research.

Dr. Brewster outlined these concerns during a recent webinar entitled The Science We Need For the Ocean We Want, as part of the activities to mark Blue Fest 2021.

During his presentation, Dr. Brewster also called for the initialisation of ocean systems for information and data gathering to assist with the rapid roll out of marine energy.

“We have to make sure that we have bilateral research connections established to provide critical information on ocean understanding for the island, and we must focus on research covering the range of ocean graphics, with training being prioritised, and job creation taking place that can be deemed to be essential for this to succeed,” Dr. Brewster pointed out.

The CZMU head lamented that while the topic of offshore oil and gas was on the table for some time, there was no “uptake” in undergraduate or postgraduate studies in the area within the local sector.

He noted that a potential research investor could improve opportunities that can be of mutual benefit, but Barbados must have the political commitment and will, in the long term, to drive the country into the “big boom”.

(Stock Photo)

“We need to work now to get it right, and we must work forward to ensure that we can have the capacity to achieve what we want,” the Director advised.

He outlined that capacity building would form an important part of the process going forward, and noted that institutional cooperation must be seen as essential. 

This would take the form of inter-ministerial and inter-operational activities between government and the private sector and investment in blue economy initiatives.

However, Dr. Brewster highlighted the fact that there was a lack of priority being placed on the area of ocean science by the private sector, despite the potential benefits for them.

“Therefore, there is a need to review how we can improve private sector interest into research and integrate them into the greater efficiencies and roll out of this approach,” he said.

He added that governance and the management of the marine space must be clearly established to address areas like a lack of financing and funding.

Dr. Brewster stressed that establishing approaches to identify research vessels and opportunities, and associated training opportunities would assist Barbados along the way in developing its blue economy.

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