Solving National Problems – a solution to the fisheries problem

Walter Blackman

Walter Blackman

“Trini, I’m a born Barbadian, I don’t like to fight But when it comes to the occasion, man, I stick fuh muh right

You put in a twelve-cents meat bone, you worse than a liceI gine give you a word of advice, “Take your meat out muh rice!”

Lord Kitchener

Today, Barbados spends almost a billion dollars importing food from outsiders. Should an unforeseen, random event occur to create a stranglehold on our external supply of food for an extended period of time, Barbadians would be exposed to the real, dangerous threat of starvation.

As a nation, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the risks that food insecurity breeds and encourages. However, before we can embark upon a trek leading to the achievement of food security, we will need to embrace the tools provided by technology, and we will have to cultivate the right attitudes, and create the right incentives and rewards in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, and shipbuilding.

Since the economy of Barbados is in serious disequilibrium, government policy, by definition, must seek to encourage and pursue national projects which can achieve the following objectives:

  1. Earn (or reduce the outflow of) foreign exchange
  2. Create sustainable jobs for Barbadians
  3. Increase government revenue

With respect to solving our fisheries problem, this article attempts to outline a solution which stresses the achievement of the following objectives, in addition to the national objectives mentioned above:

  1. To reduce potentially high health care costs by encouraging Barbadians to pursue and enjoy a fish-dominant diet.
  2. To provide fish from the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Trinidad & Tobago (T&T), Guyana, and Barbados to Barbadian retailers and households at reasonable prices.
  3. To enable Barbados, as a country, to reap some of the economic and financial benefits provided by the maritime resources of the southern Caribbean Sea.

Gaining access to the fish in T&T’s and Guyana’s waters will demand from us bold and imaginative thinking. Such thinking calls for us to recognize that all of our citizens in the Barbadian Diaspora must be encouraged and invited to play a major role in the resuscitation of our crisis-laden economy.

From the moment that slavery was fully abolished in Barbados (1838), forward-thinking former slaves, now cane-cutters, bolted from the island and headed for T&T, and Guyana. Significant human migration among these two countries and Barbados has taken place from then up to the present day.

It is worthy to note that the politicians, true to form, have verbalized the need for these three territories to work together in order to produce more economic benefits for their citizens.

In 1991, Patrick Manning as PM of T&T, floated the idea of Barbados, Guyana, and T&T coming together to form a political association of the three states. This proposal came to be known as The Manning Initiative.

By 1993, the Sandiford administration had succeeded in spectacularly wrecking the economy of Barbados. Like a drowning man clutching at a straw, the administration produced a working paper which had, as its central theme, the establishment of a tri-state confederation made up of Barbados, Guyana, and T&T.

The Arthur administration, as a matter of unofficial government policy, encouraged Guyanese citizens to settle and live in Barbados. In its dying days, the administration, with its eyes on the oil and natural gas that exist in the waters between Barbados and Tobago, proposed to Tobago, a political union between Barbados and Tobago. Implicitly, as far as the Owen Arthur administration was concerned, the island of Trinidad could go to hell.

Of course, the citizens of Barbados, T&T, and Guyana were neither informed nor invited to make any comments or suggestions related to these political proposals. Of course, also, since they were merely empty pronouncements made by Caribbean politicians to hoodwink some Caribbean nationals, nothing ever came of these proposals. Nevertheless, they serve as a potent reminder of the high level of contempt that Caribbean leaders have for their constituents in matters that involve the movement of Caribbean people and the sharing of Caribbean resources.

Given our current economic situation, it is imperative that we team up with those Barbadians who are citizens of T&T, and Guyana. We do this by establishing a parent Barbadian Corporation (Parent Barbados), with subsidiary companies in T&T (Sub T&T), and Guyana (Sub Guyana).

Parent Barbados would be 50% Private sector, and 50% Government owned. Its business activities would involve shipbuilding, fishing, fish marketing, and the management and preservation of the maritime resources within the EEZ of Barbados.

To achieve its objectives, Parent Barbados would have to create sustainable jobs in the areas of maritime communications and technology, shipbuilding, boat maintenance, seamanship, fishing, law of the sea, and marine research.

All employees of Parent Barbados and its subsidiaries would be members of a Profit Sharing pension plan established by the company.

Sub T&T will be incorporated in T&T and will follow the laws of T&T.

49.9% of the voting stock in Sub T&T will be owned by Barbadians who are citizens of T&T.

The other 50.1% will be owned by Parent Barbados.

The financial statements of Sub T&T will be consolidated into the financial statements of Parent Barbados.

As a Trinidadian company, Sub T&T will be able and allowed to fish within the waters of T&T.

All taxes and fees due to the T&T government will be paid by Sub T&T.

All fish caught by Sub T&T boats will land in Barbados tax free.

Because Sub T&T is a subsidiary of a Barbadian company, Sub T&T’s vessels will be allowed to fish in the EEZ of Barbados.

The business activities of Sub T&T would involve shipbuilding, fishing, exporting all fish caught by the company in T&T to Barbados, and assisting in the management and preservation of the maritime resources within the EEZ of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Sub Guyana subsidiary will be structured along the same lines as Sub T&T, using Barbadian citizens in Guyana as partners of the company, obeying the laws of Guyana, fishing in the EEZ of Guyana, and exporting the fish caught in the EEZ of Guyana to Barbados.

Let us assume that Parent Barbados decides that it would need to build a fleet of 600 boats to achieve its stated objectives. 300 of those boats will be purchased by Sub T&T, and the other 300 by Sub Guyana. In such a situation, we would have 300 boats fishing in the EEZ of T&T, 300 in the EEZ of Guyana, and all 600 boats allowed to fish in the EEZ of Barbados.

To discourage the wastage of time and effort related to smuggling and tax evasion, all fish caught by the 600 boats would land in Barbados tax free and the weight recorded.

Government tax will be paid in a more creative manner. Suppose taxes on all fish caught in Barbados would have amounted to $600,000. Each boat would now be charged $1,000 annually with $500 due in January and the other $500 due in July.

If we reach the stage where we are harvesting more than enough fish to satisfy Barbadian demand, then we would have to explore the feasibility of exporting fish in cans, or in its natural state to the USA.

By now, you would have realized that our fisheries problem has absolutely nothing to do with a fishing agreement between us and T&T. In fact, we could craft a fishing agreement between our two countries in five minutes. It would like something like this:

Dear Madam Prime Minister,

Since 2006, the governments of T&T and Barbados were instructed by the arbitral tribunal of UNCLOS to work out a mutually beneficial relationship with respect to the management of flying fish in the waters between Barbados and T&T.

In conformity with the wishes of UNCLOS, the government of Barbados would like to state that it intends:

1) To co-operate and collaborate with the government of T&T in all areas necessary to preserve and grow the stocks of flying fish, and all other species of fish, found within the waters between our two countries.

2) To utilize the skills, talents, and expertise of the nationals of T&T and Barbados, in conjunction with the resources of UWI, with the aim of developing a scientific approach to managing and preserving our fish resources.

3) To co-operate and collaborate with the government of T&T in the area of cost guard duties so as to ensure the safety of the citizens of T&T and Barbados, and to safeguard the maritime assets of both countries.

20 thoughts on “Solving National Problems – a solution to the fisheries problem

  1. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926 TO 2014 , MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS OF BARBADOS, BLPand DLP=Massive Fruad on said:

    All Barbados have to do is to STOP the imports of GMO foods that will kill you 20% sooner than normal and the bill will drop fast.


  2. Walter

    Fish is indeed a cheap source of protein, but with over-fishing how can we sustain the fish population in our coastal waters? Or are you suggesting factory fishing like the Japanese? Or fish farming?


  3. In its dying days, the administration, with its eyes on the oil and natural gas that exist in the waters between Barbados and Tobago, proposed to Tobago, a political union between Barbados and Tobago.
    /\/\/\/**********/\/\/\/**********/\/\/\/\

    Riddle me this how can a Barbados Gov’t propose a political union between Barbados & Tobago when Tobago is part of the twin island republic of Trinidad & Tobago?

    These suggestions are Barbados centric and don’t seem to take into consideration the policies and positions of the other Gov’ts where the Boats are domiciled; and are there many people who reside in either T&T or Guyana who hold dual citizenship with Barbados who would want to be part of this venture?

    This reads more like a brain storming exercise run amok that a serious proposal.


  4. Hal,
    I am talking about catching fish in the open sea.
    You are starting off with a premise of over-fishing. For all I know, you may be right.
    But I am starting off with not knowing how many fish we have in the EEZ of B’dos, Guyana, and T&T. And when I say B’dos, I include the waters off the north and east coasts. If there is a lot, then how do we harvest them in a sensible, controlled manner? That is why it will be crucial, up front, to hear what the researchers and the marine biologists, and the experts at UWI have to say. For example, if there is not much fish available, is there anything we can do to create conditions conducive to the growth of plankton? Can we introduce new stocks of young fish? How much damage is the effluent from hotels, and waste water from homes and businesses doing to our marine life, including our coral reefs?
    A comprehensive approach is definitely needed.


  5. @Sargeant
    Riddle me this how can a Barbados Gov’t propose a political union between Barbados & Tobago when Tobago is part of the twin island republic of Trinidad & Tobago?

    Sargeant,
    Tobago’s reply was something to the effect that if they had to choose between Barbados and T&T, they would choose T&T every time. They said they thought it was a sick joke at first, until they realized that Barbados was serious.
    You now have the proposal and the response. No riddling needed.


  6. @sargeant
    These suggestions are Barbados centric and don’t seem to take into consideration the policies and positions of the other Gov’ts where the Boats are domiciled;

    Sargeant,
    If the Trinidadians had sat on their backsides and entertained the notions and succumbed to the fears that you are expressing, they would not be dominating trade between Barbados and T&T, and they would not have achieved the significant level of ownership in Barbadian businesses that they enjoy today.

    We have to find a way to fight back. I am suggesting one way. Feel free, my brother, to suggest another.


  7. Walter Blackman “We have to find a way to fight back.”

    What does Barbados have to “fight back” with.

    Number 1

    Agriculture? That could provide food security and create employment for the armed guards to prevent praedial larceny.
    Fish farming and Hydroponics should be part of the food security master plan.


  8. “We have to find a way to fight back.”

    “Fight back” are very strong words Walter or shouldn’t we more be thinking of ‘inveigling’ since the missive to the Trinidad Prime Minister suggests that we would be more or less begging for her co-operation.


    • Barbados imports 400+ million from T&T, we export about 40 million. Barbadians are consumers, it is in our blood. Simply judge from the few comments so far.


  9. Fight back?
    All yuh just refuse to accept the inevitable–the private sector is not waiting on the politicians. All I am hoping is for the relocatipn of head offices to Barbados, which I foresee in the near future.


  10. @David
    Barbados imports 400+ million from T&T, we export about 40 million. Barbadians are consumers, it is in our blood
    /\/\/\/\/**********/\/\/\/\/\

    What accounts for that massive trade imbalance? Surely there are products on the list that we can produce or manufacture ourselves. We can also build on our special products for export e.g. Rum, if I can read a copy in one of those glossy ads that the LCBO (Ontario) issues that Barbados is the birthplace of Rum why don’t we put that on our Rum labels? Jamaica claims that their Blue Mountain Coffee is the best in the world so we can make a similar about Rum. Let the guests at all those BTA and Gov’t functions know that they can get any kind of Rum as long as it is Barbados Rum.

    There is a fixation with Trinidad which I can understand since they own everything in Barbados and control the economic levers but Manning was somewhat interested in regional integration and the current lot are not as they are only interested in cooperation if it benefits them. Why don’t we pursue some kind of economic cooperation with the other island nations in close proximity? There doesn’t seem to be any interest in increasing sanctions by this or any Gov’t against those who consider praedial larceny a career choice so we might as well bite the bullet and try to source agricultural and fruit products from our neighbours.


    • @Sargeant

      Do we have the will as a country to produce and do so competitively? it comes backt to cost of production AND the fact the Trinis control distribution and retail channels in Barbado.


  11. The time and opportunity have long passed to partner with T&T and fix the imbalance, now more ever local brain power is needed to be uniquely proactive, don’t look at government at all, they are not mentally or intellectually capable and will only hire a consultant, pay them millions of taxpayers dollars and still achieve nothing……..bright young minds (also older ones) are now charged with affecting this change.


  12. Now after all these years of failing to resturcture the economy wunna talking about fighting back. wuna ought to be ashamed ..every opportunity by the BLP govt was mispent and the voters encouraged it by pursuing self interest above country interest.and pinning all hopes on a one basket policy….wunna desrve the licks wunna getting…yuh can only start over when you learn thelesson and bajans still got much to learn…


  13. 9 January 2014 Last updated at 01:26 GMT Share this pageEmailPrint
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    The unequal battle over West Africa’s rich fish stocks
    By Thomas Fessy
    BBC News, Dakar

    Continue reading the main story
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    Fishing’s global footprint
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    The toughest place to be a fisherman
    Whether still trapped in the mesh of a net, on a market stall or on your plate with rice and an onion sauce, fish are everywhere to be seen in Senegal’s peninsula capital, Dakar.

    “Families have lived off fish for generations,” says Issa Fall, who co-ordinates the Fisherman Committee at the small bay of Soumbedioune on the coastal road that leads to the city centre.

    The bay forms a large curve with one of Dakar’s main fish markets on its shore.

    Continue reading the main story

    Start Quote

    Vessels we caught pay a fine and go, but they do it again. We must be able to keep them when we seize them, so there’s a real punishment”

    Haidar El-Ali
    Senegal’s fisheries minister
    A dug-out canoe carrying a handful of fishermen slows down on the last wave before it reaches the sand. It is coming back with the day’s catch.

    Dozens of similar boats or “pirogues” are lying on their flanks while a couple of others are being sculpted a few metres away. They are hand-built from local timber.

    Illegal fishing is a sensitive subject, which sparks anger and bitterness here.

    “Fish stocks have been reduced, it’s become scarce,” Mr Fall says.

    “For this market alone, we used to offload 3,500 tonnes each year; we can’t even do 3,000 tonnes now.”

    The ocean off West African coasts is home to one of the world’s richest fishing grounds.

    From Morocco up north down to Guinea, sardines, grouper, snapper, shrimp and mackerel are part of a rich marine fauna exploited by fishing vessels on an industrial scale.

    “These underwater grounds are now at risk of collapse,” warns the Senegalese Fisheries Minister, Haidar El-Ali.

    ‘Fines no deterrent’
    A famous former environmentalist and campaigner, Mr El-Ali is currently handling a near diplomatic incident with Russia after the Oleg Naydenov trawler was seized by the Senegalese navy for allegedly fishing with no licence in the country’s waters.

    Continue reading the main story
    Fishing in Senegal

    Fishing has been the backbone of the economy
    According to a 2006 UN report, overfishing has led to 80% unemployment in the fisheries sector
    In 2008, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said there were 82,000 fishermen – equally distributed between the marine and the inland sectors – and more than 37,500 other jobs connected to the industry
    The FAO report estimated more than 488,000 tonnes of fish, at a value of $109m (£66m), were landed annually – up to 90% of this by artisanal marine fishermen
    Senegal’s fisheries minister has said the country loses about $312m a year because of illegal fishing by foreign trawlers, quoting USAid figures
    West African waters have the highest levels of illegal catch in the world, at about 37% of the region’s total, according to a 2012 EJF report
    In a statement posted on its website on Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russian diplomats in Dakar were collaborating with the local authorities to obtain the vessel’s release.

    The Russian vessel’s owners face a $800,000 (£486,000) fine – double the usual fee because the Oleg Naydenov is a “repeat offender”, having been caught once before in the last two years.

    But in an incredibly valuable industry, fines are no deterrent; foreign vessels always come back and can easily cover or change their identification markings.

    “Fines represent only a fraction in their operational costs,” says Steve Trent, executive director at the UK-based campaign group Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF).

    EJF researchers estimate that West African waters have the highest levels of illegal catch in the world, at about 37% of the region’s total.

    If West Africa stands out, it is part of a global problem putting a strain on the planet’s fish stocks.

    Thieboudienne, fish and rice cooked in a tomato sauce, is considered Senegal’s national dish
    Up to 26 million tonnes of fish, worth more than $23bn, are estimated to be lost annually to what is officially called “Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated” (IUU) – or pirate fishing.

    In Sierra Leone alone, one of the world’s poorest countries still recovering from civil war, the EJF estimates losses at $29m each year.

    Mr El-Ali wants a tougher law.

    “Vessels we caught pay a fine and go, but they do it again,” he says.

    “We must be able to keep them when we seize them, so there’s a real punishment.”

    ‘Better money’
    As the world’s largest fish importer, the European Union holds a massive responsibility.

    Maria Damanaki, the EU commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, has recently blacklisted Guinea, Cambodia and Belize.

    These three countries, some of the most valuable sources of seafood, are now banned from exporting fish to the EU for failing to act on pirate fishing.

    South Korea has been officially warned it may soon end up on that list.

    Vessels registered there have been illegally operating off the coasts of West Africa repeatedly.

    “There is a problem, it would be very irresponsible to say that there isn’t,” Oliver Drewes, the EU fisheries spokesman, said.

    “We’re doing our best to control our boats, we are making progress but there’s still a long way to go.”

    An EU diplomat, who refused to be named, insisted that “the issue of control in West Africa is huge”.

    “But these states also have to take deterrent measures and clamp down on corruption.”

    A source at the Senegalese fisheries ministry admitted that vessels’ crews often pay bribes to get away as soon as they are caught in national waters.

    The EU has also come under fire for fisheries agreements that it has signed with North and West African countries.

    Campaigners often argue that EU countries are doing elsewhere what they have done at home, depleting seas of fish stocks at the expense of local communities.

    Mr Drewes acknowledges the need for more “open and transparent agreements, under fair economical and environmental conditions”.

    Continue reading the main story

    Start Quote

    We used to be able to save a bit for our children’s education or to fix our boats but it’s now become hard to make ends meet”

    Fisheman Issa Fall
    A bilateral agreement with Morocco – one the most controversial deals – was revised last month.

    Concerns have also been raised that the agreements are only benefiting the European fisheries industry without helping local fishermen.

    “Agreements must take into account that it is some of the poorest countries’ resources after all,” says Mr Trent.

    “They must provide employment, food security and income for the generations to come.”

    In Senegal, more and more unemployed youth jump on boats to make a bit of money.

    While fishing used to be a family business, these newcomers do not hesitate to join illegal operations.

    “Not only we have to face non-authorised foreign vessels but we also have to check our own artisanal fishermen,” says Cheickh Sarr, head of the national Protection and Surveillance of Fisheries Agency.

    Fishermen say their catches are dwindling year-on-year
    “Artisanal practices can also violate the law while others work with illegal foreign crews for better money,” he says.

    He explains that it was a French plane assisting the Senegalese navy which spotted the Russian trawler a few days ago.

    “We lack the resources to patrol everywhere,” he says.

    The Oleg Naydenov was reportedly caught with 1,000 tonnes of fish on board – an amount local fishermen are unable to scoop up in such a short time.

    On the shore of the Soumbedioune bay, Mr Fall points at the ocean and says he fears it is becoming “empty.”

    “We are forced to go further out, which means spending more on fuel,” he says.

    “Our revenues have come down. We used to be able to save a bit for our children’s education or to fix our boats but it’s now become hard to make ends meet.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25660385


  14. PLANTATION DEEDS IN GAZA FROM 096 TO 1948, MASSIVE MIS-SPELLING, LAND TAX BILLS AND BONNY PEPPA. MASSIVE BAFBFP (“Baffy, de lil bajan rapis”) MIS-SPELLING BLPandDLP = Bonny Peppa

    Insert pointless link.

  15. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926 TO 2014 , MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS OF BARBADOS, BLPand DLP=Massive Fruad on said:

    Jack Bowman@ demand for fish will go up and so will the cost, Deep water tuna and other fish prices on there way up, America not testing fish they catch and only other fish from other countries, even so all fish in the same water,Tuna in cans need to watch for that also , Why you think Japan is here to open fisheries ,So what ever problems we may have will get even worse, The can tuna that we import may need to be tested by Barbados to make sure its safe,enjoy your fish , FUK-US-HI-MA , Fukushima Japan nuclear plant radiation leak ,
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2013/10/tepco-new-leak-at-fukushima-nuclear-plant-20131042347123714.html

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