The Government of Barbados has secured BDS $5.3 million to improve the local tuna industry.
The financial assistance is being provided by the Government of South Korea, under the Sustainable Fish Value Chains for Small Island Developing States (SVC4SIDS) project. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) was instrumental in helping Barbados to access the funding.
On Wednesday, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, and the FAO’s Sub-regional Coordinator for the Caribbean, Renata Clarke, signed an agreement and officially launched the project, at the Ministry’s headquarters at Charnocks, Christ Church.
Thanking the FAO for its assistance, Minister Humphrey described the SVC4SIDS project as a “game changer” for the industry, mainly fishermen.
He explained the project would allow Barbados to be in a position to determine the value of the tuna loins produced for export. Tuna loins are normally boneless and are cut from the backbone lengthwise into quarters.
“Currently, they just head and gut the fish and export it, [meaning] often times a fisherman may export fish expecting to get a certain value. We may call it Grade A when it leaves Barbados, but when it gets to the US, they determine, when they loin it, that it is not Grade A and give us less value,” he said.
“We’re not involving ourselves in overfishing but we’re making the most of the fish we catch,” Minister Humphrey noted.
The SVC4SIDS, as Minister Humphrey explained, would also aid in positioning Barbados to export to fish the European Union.
He said at this time authorities, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the FAO, have been working to ensure the requisite phyto-sanitary conditions are put in place to facilitate exports.
Meanwhile Sub-regional Coordinator for the Caribbean, Renata Clarke, was confident the project would support the development of a “fully inclusive” tuna fishery in Barbados.
“This project would ensure significant financial benefits for stakeholders by streamlining export and local supply chains by moving from headed and gutted tuna to exporting tuna loins, as increased profits are shared among fishers, fisher folk organisations, a for profit company and the Government,” she explained.