With the adverse effects of climate change that continue to diminish the fisheries sector and the growing demand for marine resources, the Department of Marine Resources in St. Kitts is taking a closer look at aquaculture as a possible solution.
At a national consultation on the aquaculture sector held Jan. 30 at the NEMA headquarters, various experts in the field had a detailed discussion with community stakeholders on the benefits of pursuing aquaculture. The one-day session gave an overview of aquaculture, a SWOT analysis of the project, demonstrations and the costs associated with undertaking the project.
Dr. Leighton Naraine, an aquaculture review specialist, gave an overview of the project and said that it is set to “increase farm production, reap economic benefits, provide alternative employment opportunities and incomes in the Eastern Caribbean small island states, and contribute to food security and food import reduction.”
Leighton also explained that presently there is a high level of importing of seafood from other Caribbean islands and internationally into the federation, which leads to the higher cost on goods and the reliance on imported goods versus local production. He stated that many countries have recently been turning to aquaculture as a means of sustainability.
Hydroponics expert Stuart LaPlace did a demonstration and explained the setup cost and machinery needed for aquaculture production. He noted that while the initial cost may be high, the machinery has the potential to reap substantial profits overtime. He said that the machinery that will be introduced to the federation will cost approximately USD$13,000 and produce 75 pounds of fish monthly after a five-month setup period. He also explained that once the setup is complete and the machine begins to yield products, investors should expect at least an EC$2,700 profit per month from the production.
Aquaculture is defined as the cultivation of aquatic animals and plants, specifically fish, shellfish and seaweed in natural or controlled marine or freshwater environments.