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An estimated 45 stakeholders in the fisheries and livestock sectors are set to sharpen their knowledge in the first ever Fish Silage – Production and Use Workshop in Bridgetown, Barbados

The training workshop, the first of its kind in Barbados, will be conducted by Mr Gustavo Wicki, an Aquaculture Engineer who holds a Masters in Aquaculture and is Chief of Argentine National Aquaculture Center (CENADAC) in Argentina.

July 23, 2019 - Bridgetown, Barbados – A diverse set of important stakeholders, including the Barbados Fisheries Division, Fish Processing sector, Barbados National Union of Fisherfolk Organizations (BARNUFO), Livestock Feed Manufactures, and Agriculture Producers’ Associations will attend a four-day Fish Silage Workshop funded and organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Embassy of Argentina from July 23-26.

The training workshop, the first of its kind in Barbados, will be conducted by Mr Gustavo Wicki, an Aquaculture Engineer who holds a Masters in Aquaculture and is Chief of Argentine National Aquaculture Center (CENADAC) in Argentina. The Fisheries Division of Barbados is the venue for the workshop, while the practical, hands-on demonstrations will be held at the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). 

According to FAO, the first findings of its recent feasibility study on fish silage are that over 11,000 pounds of fish by-products (including the guts and skins) are produced in Barbados each day through post-harvest practices in the fish processing facilities where fish is gutted, skinned and filleted.  Only 38% of a whole flying fish actually makes its way onto the consumer’s plate. The total annual production of by-products in Barbados is 3-4 million pounds of fish: more than sufficient justification to seek alternative uses, as this by-product currently ends up at the landfill.

The fish silage project will explore the conversion of the parts of the fish that are typically discarded, into safe and nutritious products for the consumption of livestock. The unutilized fish parts can be converted into liquid fish silage with the help of enzymes in the fish itself, as they break it down into smaller pieces, and an added acid, which helps speed up the process while preventing bacterial spoilage.

The production of fish silage is a promising option, serving as substitution for locally produced feed and fertilizer resources for livestock, agriculture and aquaculture production. This initiative can create livelihood opportunities, potentially increasing the over 6,000 jobs currently offered by the fishing industry as well as creating employment for the agricultural sector. In this regard, the Ministry of Youth and Community Empowerment is engaged in the initiative to support business development opportunities.

More importantly, fish silage can be used as an alternative to corn and soya meal, two ingredients which are currently imported from the USA to make local livestock feed, and stated to be in short supply in a recent media story. Currently, nearly all ingredients from animal feed are imported, meaning that livestock feed prices fluctuate with global markets and can be quite expensive. Apart from reducing the food import bill and increasing food sovereignty, fish silage aims to increase the value of the fish value chain. Attributing value to a product, which is currently wasted, is one of the underlying principles of a circular economy, as promoted by the Honorable Kirk Humphrey, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy.

Dr Renata Clarke, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator indicated that, “fish silage could also contribute to climate change mitigation as fish waste currently largely ends up at the landfill where it releases methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide within the first two decades or its release and 34 times more potent over 100 year period. Currently 25% of the manmade global warming we are experiencing is caused by methane emission. Reduced waste will thus lead to a reduced amount of methane in the atmosphere”.

Dr Clarke added that, “the idea of fish silage is not new; the first work was done in Sweden in the 1930s, and Denmark started commercial production about 10 years later and  fish silage industries exist now in a number of countries in the world. We know fish silage has been tried in Barbados at a very small-scale before years before, this project would be the first in Barbados involving a collaboration of large variety of stakeholders to make this a commercial and environmental success”.

She also stated that that FAO values the partnership and financial support of the Embassy of Argentina on the fish silage project and remain grateful to Gustavo Pandiani, Ambassador of the Argentine Republic to Barbados for his keen interest and efforts in making this workshop a reality.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Pandiani stated, “we brought in our expert from Buenos Aires, Argentina to work closely with both Bridgetown and Oistins’ fisher folks, and to share with them an innovative and self-sustainable technique of producing fish silage as a resource for livestock and agriculture. This triangular cooperation is very important because it gives Barbados the opportunity to reduce the wastage, not only by finding ways to use more fish, but also by utilizing the by-products.

Ms Vernel Nicholls, President of BARNUFO has expressed her enthusiasm “we, the fisher folk welcome the fish silage pilot project so that we can understand the degree of waste and learn how we can use it as an added source of income.”

FAO is also undertaking feasibility studies in fish silage and conducting technical workshops in Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia and is keen to share the best practices from Barbados with these other islands to ensure their success.

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