It is technically feasible to culture fish, crustaceans, etc. on most Caribbean islands. It seems, however, that several types of culture could be uneconomic, and a careful selection must be made. On the smaller islands the limited areas of well-watered land make freshwater aquaculture unattractive, and in the view of the ADCP Mission, virtually eliminates the possibility of developing commercially defensible, extensive brackishwater culture (using large areas of land). Most of the smaller islands have exposed coastlines and therefore the type of mariculture that can be developed is limited. Intensive, land-based mariculture might have a chance of becoming commercially viable. However, given the fact that the technology of such intensive cultures is not universally proven to be economic (especially for culture of penaeid shrimps) developments should be preceded by pilot-scale operations.
In Antigua a pilot project would be needed to adapt aquaculture technology, not now available in the region, to the unique local conditions and to local species. Once the technology was validated, the project could function as a demonstration centre.
Antigua has a number of suitable sites for development of intensive land-based aquaculture. In addition, conditions are favourable for several other types of culture such as floating cage culture of marine fish, cockle culture and seaweed culture (Barbuda).
One of the main constraints to development of mariculture is that the Government does not have the financial resources or technical capability to support it. On the other hand, the Government is interested in promoting aquaculture and would support any pilot-scale development activities.
The Caribbean Development Bank has expressed interest in developing a pilot mariculture operation in the Caribbean and is soliciting possible donors with regard to financing mariculture development. The project outlined above would be a suitable vehicle for such development.
Antigua is the home base of Antigua Fisheries Ltd. which could act as the cooperative implementing agency. Antigua Fisheries Ltd. is the executing agency for an ‘Antigua Fisheries Development Project’. It is sponsored by the Antigua Government, the Caribbean Food Corporation and the Caribbean Development Bank. The Director of Antigua Fisheries Ltd., Mr. Michael James, has expressed an interest in developing mariculture and a willingness to discuss implementation of a project.
Also, Antigua has a large airport that receives several overseas and inter-island flights.
3.1 Development objectives
The project aims at introducing mariculture into the economy of Antigua. Mariculture could mean, if successfully introduced, an improvement of the (net) earnings of foreign exchange for the island. It will lead to some increase in employment and to production of marine products for the local markets.
3.2 Immediate objective
The project's immediate objective is to develop mariculture systems which are economically viable, at a commercial or subsistence level.
The project should undertake pilot-scale culture of: marine fish in cages, seaweeds, cockles, possibly penaeid shrimps, and other species as deemed appropriate during project execution. The shrimp culture pilot project should include culture in raceways and maturation of brood stock. Investigations should be made of the economic viability of using wind power for pumping and aeration of shrimp ponds. Cage culture of marine fish should make use of juvenile snappers and groupers caught in the wild. Seaweed culture would be carried out at Barbuda.
The demonstration project should employ for three years the services of one full-time expert who is familiar with intensive culture of shrimp in raceways or tanks. It should also employ four fishery biologists from within the region. Provision needs to be made for assistance to the shrimp culturist by specialized consultants in the fields of engineering, culture of food organisms, algal culture, disease diagnosis and treatment. In addition, the project should have funds to pay for consultants who will initiate activities in the field of seaweed and marine fin-fish culture.
A rough estimate of the funds required for facilities, equipment and supplies to support a small penaeid shrimp pilot project are as follows:
|Facilities||- 4,1/3 ha earthen ponds||3 500|
|- water canals||1 000|
|- small work/storage shed||1 500|
|Equipment||- water pump|
|- light truck|
|- nets, lights, etc.|
|- water monitoring equipment||16 000|
|Supplies||- post-larvae (U.S.$ 10/1 000)||1 400|
|- feed (U.S.$ 88/kg)||7 000|
|- miscellaneous (fuel, chemicals, etc.)||1 000|