Barbados secures grant to improve tuna industry

The Government of Barbados is the beneficiary of a BD$5.3-million grant from the Government of South Korea, which will serve as an investment into improving the local tuna industry.

Barbados secured the grant with the assistance of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations as part of the Sustainable Fish Value Chains for Small Island Developing States (SVC4SIDS) project.

Last Wednesday, to mark the official launch of the project Barbados’s Minister of Maritime Affairs Kirk Humphrey and the FAO’s sub-regional coordinator for the Caribbean, Renata Clarke, signed an agreement at the ministry’s headquarters at Charnocks, Christ Church.

Barbados Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey and FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for the Caribbean Renata Clarke exchange documents following the signing of an agreement for the Sustainable Fish Value Chains for Small Island Developing States (SVC4SIDS) project last Wednesday, November 18, 2020. (Photo: C Pitt/BGIS)

‘Game changer’

While thanking the FAO for its assistance, Minister Humphrey described the SVC4SIDS project as a “game changer” for the industry, mainly fishermen.

The project, he explained, would assist stakeholders in the tuna industry to better determine the value of the tuna loins produced for export. Tuna loins are normally boneless, cut from the backbone lengthwise into quarters.

Barbados tuna (File photo)

“Currently, they (fishermen) just head and gut the fish and export it, [meaning] oftentimes 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,” the minister said.

“We’re not involving ourselves in overfishing but we’re making the most of the fish we catch,” he added.

‘Fully inclusive’

Minister Humphrey also shared that the SVC4SIDS would aid in positioning Barbados to export the fish to countries in the European Union. Currently the authorities, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the FAO, have been working to ensure the requisite phyto-sanitary conditions are in place to facilitate exports.

Barbados targets US$7.5M from tuna exports

Clarke, for her part, expressed confidence that 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, fisherfolk organisations, a for-profit company, and the Government,” she explained.