Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley unveils the plaque to officially reopen the Pile Bay Fishing Facility today. She was assisted by Member of Parliament, Neil Rowe and Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey. Looking on is Chairman of Barbados Port Inc., Peter Odle. (A. Reid/BGIS)

A grant of US$4.5 million has been secured to plan out Barbados’ maritime spatial area for conservation.

And, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley praised the Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, for securing the grant, as she delivered the feature address at the official opening of the Pile Bay Fishing Facility.

Ms. Mottley said: “The other people who clearly have confidence in what Barbados wants to achieve in its maritime jurisdiction…are those environmentalists who believe that what we are doing is right.

“And to that extent, I want to publicly commend the Minister Kirk Humphrey, for securing a grant of US $4.5 million to be able to plan out Barbados’ maritime spatial area for conservation, in spite of the fact that we cannot do the debt for nature swap, which would have brought about that amount to us. This is a Government at work.”

The Prime Minister pointed out that Government had been doing significant work with the global environmental organisation, The Nature Conservancy, and was hoping to do a debt for nature swap, but encountered a problem because Barbados’ debt was trading too high.

“Yesterday, I believe we were trading still above par, at 102.  For those who are familiar with the financial markets, they will tell you that you can’t really seriously go for a debt for nature swap. If your debt is trading at those high, high levels, which, even though we are in a deep, deep, deep economic and global problem with respect to the pandemic, it’s an amazing fact, because it says that in spite of the economic decline last year, driven by the closure of our borders because of COVID pandemic, that the world and the financial markets continue to have confidence in Barbados’ Government paper,” she stated.

The new Pile Bay Fishing Facility. (A. Reid/BGIS)

Ms. Mottley said the fishing industry was a priority for Government and she pointed out that 20 fish aggregation devices had been placed around the country’s maritime jurisdiction to create opportunities for the fish to gather in particular spaces.

In addition, she noted that Barbados had been unable to export fish to Europe because of a failure to have the appropriate standards in the fish markets, as well as the necessary legislative framework.

“We have been working assiduously…to put those appropriate standards in place, and we are also working assiduously to get the legislation in place so that our fishermen can sustainably and responsibly fish,” she stated.

During the wide-ranging address, the Prime Minister said over 1,000 children were taught to swim last year and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs has promised that number will be increased this year.

She thanked the Bridgetown Port for the work it has been doing in the community and encouraged the private sector to be mindful of their corporate social responsibility.

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