The activities proposed by the Mission for the five countries visited have been discussed under those sections of this report which deal with the countries concerned. The recommendations that are given in the rest of this chapter are of a nature that will be of interest to more than one country in the Caribbean including those not visited by the Mission.
From its analysis of aquaculture possibilities in the Lesser Antilles, and similar small islands, the Mission formulated the following recommendations:
These islands should concentrate on developing mariculture in preference to culture of fresh water fish;
pooling of human resources, and information, available to the small islands is essential in order that development efforts be reasonable in magnitude;
the dearth of local aquaculture experience indicates that most developments should start with experiments, to be followed by pilot-scale activities, before extension can take place; and,
economic and social appraisal should be a country-specific activity.
Given these recommendations, the Mission has formed the opinion that the smaller islands would best be served in their efforts to develop mariculture, if a Regional Mariculture Development Centre for the Lesser Antilles (REMADELA) was established. The Mission proposes that REMADELA has the following two main functions:
to adapt known mariculture technology to the environment in, and to the species endemic to, the Lesser Antilles; and,
when viable culture systems have been established, to serve as a training and demonstration centre for mariculturists from the region.
However, to proceed further in this matter, or to decide on other forms of regional cooperation for mariculture development, the Governments of the Lesser Antilles have to be consulted. The Mission proposes that a working party be convened for this purpose. The working party would start by taking note of the mariculture development policies in force in the Lesser Antilles and would then discuss:
Priority species and culture systems for adaptive research;
suitable forms of regional cooperation for development of locally valid culture systems (inter alia the concept of a regional centre);
requirements in the form of facilities, staffing and funding; and,
suitable location(s) for development and training activities.
The working party should consist of aquaculturists and of country representatives familiar both with the fisheries development policies of their governments and with their country's fisheries.
As has been made clear elsewhere in the report (see sections: 4, 5 and 8.3) the Mission recommends that the Governments in the Greater Antilles concentrate their efforts on the development of fish culture in fresh water. Although the islands are in a position to develop mariculture, development in this field ought to take second place, given Governments' development objectives, to development of culture of fresh water fish in rural areas.
The Mission studied rural fish culture in Jamaica and Haiti, and would like to recommend to fish culturists in the Greater Antilles that they consider the implications of the following observations for their present and/or planned programmes:
Experience shows that whilst it is relatively easy to identify the most suitable combinations of species and culture practices, the effort spent on introducing practices suited to farmers' requirements and circumstances needs to be systematic and of long duration; it requires the establishment of an adequate extension service to which a long-term commitment should be made.
Size of fish at harvest should be determined by economic considerations. For tilapia the optimum size, given local demand, is closer to 100 g than to 500 g.
Training of extension workers and fish farm managers is best done in the milieu in which they will later work, i.e., locally.
In rural fish culture it is, for several reasons, rational to make the farmer independent of government support as soon as possible. Thus extension programmes should be designed to enable the farmer to produce fingerlings (especially of carps and tilapia) on his own.
A bottleneck for development of any type of aquaculture in the Caribbean region is the lack of expertise. The Mission recommends:
that governments attempt to determine the training needs of (a) aquaculture research workers, and (b) aquaculture technicians (who will work as fish farm managers or extension workers);
that the governments in the region closely examine how to share the aquaculture expertise they have and may obtain; and
that governments, as a part of future cooperation for aquaculture development (a) attempt to share, where feasible, the services of visiting aquaculturists, and (b) facilitate on-the-job training for aquaculturists within the region.