Minister of Agriculture, Senator Haynesley Benn??

Vessel safety, improved data collection and registration for the proper handling of sea food are among several initiatives being proposed by Government to put this country’s fishing industry on a stronger footing.

Minister of Agriculture, Senator Haynesley Benn, indicated that his administration recognised the importance of constantly upgrading the fisheries sector, and was committed to doing so through the implementation of a number of programmes.

The Minister was speaking this morning at the official opening of a two-week Fish Stock Assessment workshop, at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

He said: "Vessel safety legislation is being drafted to set standards for the construction and survey of local fishing vessels 24 metres and less.?? [In turn] This legislation would provide for registration of all fishing vessels; inspection prior to registration; [and] maintenance of a register of local fishing craft by the Chief Fisheries Officer among others."

Senator Benn also outlined a number of benefits that this legislation would bring. For example, improved design, construction and stability of local fishing boats; thorough examination of hull, machinery, safety equipment and sanitary conditions, as well as safer and more hygienic fishing vessels.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Minister told those gathered that regional fisheries resources were of vital importance to the CARICOM Member States.

"The people of Member States depend on the resources for sustenance, livelihood and recreation. And these resources are renewable and to some extent resilient to change.?? However, the ability of fish stocks to renew themselves and bounce back from change is at risk, especially if too many fish are taken from the population, as is the case with many fish stocks at the national, regional and international levels," Minister Benn surmised.

He also contended that over the past decades, in the face of increasing demand for fish and fish products, many coastal states have increasingly over-exploited their fish resources and consequently, threatened the contribution of fish to food security and livelihoods.

??Pointing out that many developing countries have gradually gained control over large marine areas, the Minister underscored that the rights to exploit the fisheries resources within these expanded areas has become habitual.?? However, he cautioned

that with this responsibility comes the "obligation to ensure that the fisheries resources are exploited in a sustainable manner by both present and future generations.

The Fish Stock Assessment course is a joint effort between the United Nations Fisheries Training Programme and regional project partners, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism and the University of the West Indies.?? The organisations share a commitment to improving the scientific basis for fisheries management in the Caribbean region.

The course is being funded by the Government of Iceland under its "Island Growth Initiative Fund."??tblackman@barbados.gov.bb

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