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St Kitts and Nevis Pursues ‘Growing’ its Own Fish

13 September 2012

SAINT KITTS and NEVIS - St. Kitts hosted a National validation workshop on “Producing our own quality sea food” with a view to possibly moving into aquaculture.

Local Fisheries officials say aquaculture, the cultivation of aquatic animals, especially fish and shellfish, in natural or controlled marine or freshwater environments, can be a means of increasing local production of seafood and reducing imports, reports StKitts&NevisObserver.

The Federation’s seafood imports at present burdens the economy by more than $3 million each year.

The Department of Marine Resources initiated a study to reveal the potential and the implementation strategy for introducing aquaculture on the islands due to the large demand for seafood in St Kitts and Nevis and the stagnant output from capture fisheries.

The Department revealed that the initial part of the study, which is supported by the European Union through the ACP FISH II program, was performed during July-August and included consultation meetings and field visits on both St Kitts and Nevis with the aim to draft an aquaculture development plan for St Kitts and Nevis reflecting the interests of the respective island stakeholders.

Fisheries Director Marc Williams addressed workshop attendees on Thursday 6 September and informed that the regional coordination unit ACP Fish II secretariat in Belize is currently assisting the Department with the establishment of said Draft Aquaculture Development Strategy for St. Kitts and Nevis.

“A technical team has been established with representatives from public sector organizations and NGOs to guide the development of this strategy. The overall objective of this project is to improve our food and nutrition security while strengthening the capacity of the fisheries administrations in St. Kitts and Nevis to support the management of the aquaculture sector,” he said.

The overall objective of this project, he explained, is to improve food and nutrition security while strengthening the capacity of the fisheries administrations in St. Kitts and Nevis to support the management of the aquaculture sector.

The initial stages of the study show that because of the islands’ access pristine oceanic waters it is feasible to introduce especially marine fish farming. Officials pointed out however, that due to the risk of hurricanes a special “St Kitts and Nevis farming model” is suggested, which combines land based fish juvenile production in seawater raceways/tanks with final grow out in cages in the sea outside the hurricane season.

The study also showed that as an example, two sea site areas, each of 210 by 270 meter will be sufficient to triple the domestic seafood production from the present 450 tons originating from capture fisheries. This indicates that not only would fish farms improve food security and nutrition but a developed aquaculture sector could provide additional employment and investment opportunities for locals and eventually may bring in needed foreign exchange through exports.

Consultant Niels Svennevig from Vietnam was the main presenter during the workshop and discussed the findings of the study with local stakeholders.

He said a look at the consumption of fish on the island revealed that locals ate fish/seafood on average once per week. Because of the small population and low seafood consumption, increasing fish production may not lead to a fall-off in imports as a significant portion of it is dried/preserved fish that is not produced locally (tuna, fish fillets, salted fish). He said however that those involved with fish farms would see financial benefit from being able to sell the fish directly to the consumer.

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