Government plans to undertake an aggressive campaign to create legislation and policy to expand the development of the Blue Economy, especially aquaculture, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said Wednesday, adding that domestic and international investment in aquaculture will be an important component.
Pintard, who was presenter for the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) webinar on the Blue Economy, said aquaculture will become extremely important for The Bahamas, especially given, he said, that much of the fish consumed in the country is farm-raised and imported, despite the country’s abundance of marine area and marine resources.
“The importance of developing aquaculture is extremely important for the Bahamas. This is an area that is underutilized,” said Pintard.
“As you are aware, more than 50 percent of fish that is consumed is actually grown rather than harvested from the oceans.
“In the case of The Bahamas, we’re going to go on an aggressive campaign in terms of putting in place robust legislation and policy to govern that sector, but then to move to attract investment both domestically and internationally in the sector.”
In terms of marine resources, Pintard said the country has also lost opportunities to gain financially through benefit sharing agreements with big companies that have made discoveries in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals from marine life in Bahamian waters, but left the country without The Bahamas accruing any benefit from the resources they harvested.
“Others have come into The Bahamas… we have numerous agencies from around the world and universities that study our marine environment,” he said.
“Unfortunately, they have taken advantage of it. And, so, you have multinational corporations that have benefited in the area of cosmetics, in the area of medicine, utilizing research that they have conducted in The Bahamas.
“And, so, through the access benefit sharing arrangements, now we want to make sure that we carefully monitor those who come in who are presumably friends, but were acting narrowly in their own interests, to ensure that we benefit from our patrimony.”
Pintard contended that the country has to alleviate local competing interest in the Blue Economy so that synergies are created between the departments and sectors that depend on The Bahamas’ marine environment.
“What is the best way to amalgamate ministries so we don’t have division of political objectives, as well as a division of resources?” he asked.
“That’s very difficult, even through inter-sectorial cooperation, to deploy these resources for a common purpose.”