The Working Group on the Development of Mariculture in the Smaller Islands of the Carribbean that met in Freeport, Bahamas, 12–16 October 1981, discussed in detail the need, potential and possibilities of aquaculture development in the region and came to the conclusion that a regional approach will facilitate sound development of this sector. In view of the scarce resources, including trained manpower and the absence of adequately tested technologies, the Working Group recommended the establishment of a Caribbean Regional Aquaculture Centre for development of appropriate technologies through applied research, training of manpower and dissemination of information, along the lines of the regional centres established by the FAO/UNDP Interregional Aquaculture Development and Coordination Programme (ADCP) in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In furtherance of this, the Working Group recommended that FAO-ADCP in cooperation with other interested agencies field a mission to visit possible participating countries, consult with governments, interested organizations/agencies, select a suitable site for the regional centre and prepare a detailed project document for submission to potential donors and governments of the region. During discussions the Working Group indicated that the Centre should serve the needs of the small islands as well as larger countries of the Caribbean region, especially of the English-speaking countries, and cover both marine and freshwater aquaculture.
Following consultations with a number of interested agencies, ADCP arranged to field a three-man mission jointly with the CARICOM Secretariat. The Mission consisted of the following:
Dr. T.V.R. Pillay
Aquaculture Development and Coordination Programme
FAO, Rome, Italy
Mr. P.C.M. Choudhury
Fishery Resources Officer (Aquaculture)
Fishery Resources and Environment Division
FAO, Fisheries Department, Rome
Mr. Ronald Gordon
The terms of reference of the Mission were as follows:
to visit selected countries to study the on-going aquaculture activities, potentials and needs and to ascertain the extent of government interest and support for hosting the Centre;
to consult with interested organizations/agencies on their possible support for the Centre;
to visit sites for the Centre and to make recommendations regarding its location, and
to prepare a detailed project document for submission to potential donors and the governments of the region.
In order to select the countries to be visited, FAO consulted the Governments in advance and it was decided to restrict visits mainly to the four countries that expressed interest in hosting the Centre, viz Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Bahamas. Brief visits were made to Barbados to meet the University officials and to Martinique to become acquainted with progress in aquaculture work in the country. The itinerary of the Mission is given in Annex 1 and the persons met in Annex 2.
In each of the countries visited, the Mission held discussions with representatives of UNDP, FAO and EEC. In addition, Dr. Pillay had also brief discussions with officials concerned in UNDP, New York before the Mission and at IDB and World Bank in Washington after the Mission.
The Mission adopted the following criteria for the selection of a suitable site for the establishment of the regional centre, in the order of importance listed:
Availability of areas where experimental and pilot work on fresh, brackish and marine aquaculture systems that have wide application in the region can be carried out;
Agro-climatic and other environmental conditions representative of most of the Caribbean region;
Extent of financial support possible from local sources for the establishment of physical facilities and for the operation of the Centre;
Existence of some, or all of the physical facilities needed, enabling early establishment of the Centre;
Accessibility, communications and other facilities, including electricity, water supply, telephone, telex and nearness to Centres of higher learning;
Social amenities, including educational, medical and recreational facilities;
Nearness to urban areas, particularly from the point of view of servicing and maintenance of equipment;
Residential accommodation for staff (expatriate and local);
Technical features such as water supply, soil conditions, exposure to natural disasters, etc.;
Security of culture stock and experimental installations.
Besides the above, the Mission was required to take into account certain other factors in respect of the host country itself. Since the establishment of the Centre is most likely to involve an appreciable investment by the host country it was felt necessary to ensure that potential for development of aquaculture in that country should justify such investment. It was also necessary that the systems of aquaculture to be developed at the Centre should primarily be of interest and importance to the host country so that regional commitment will be in accord with national needs. Further, if for any reason the Centre were to cease to be regional in nature, it should be possible to revert to the status of a national centre, and be of benefit to the country's development programme.
The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is the only country on the continent of South America that offered to host the regional centre for English-speaking Caribbean countries. Guyana, which name means “land of many waters”, covers 215 000 km2 and has a population of 820 000 (1979). Numerous rivers traverse the country. The coastline is 430 km long. More than 85 percent of the population live on the narrow, flat coastal strip leaving the vast hinterland sparsely populated.
Fish is an important source of animal protein for the population. Per caput consumption has been estimated at 37.4 kg (1980). The importation of all fish and fish products into Guyana has been banned since 1972. Some fish products (dried, salted and smoked fish) are being produced locally. However, most of this is consumed on the coast. Given the absence of marketing infrastructure for fresh fish, there is a tremendous shortage of this commodity in the hinterlands of Guyana, particularly in areas not located on or close to a river.
4.1.2 Fisheries and aquaculture
A relatively large and well developed fishing industry exists. The harvest in 1981 was estimated at 3 175 t of shrimp and 18 140 t of finfish. Most of the shrimp caught is processed locally and exported. It is estimated that the fishing industry employs approximately 12 000 persons. The majority of these are artisanal fishermen who land 80 percent of the finfish caught.
Currently, aquaculture in Guyana is in its embryonic stage of development and is confined to fresh water farming. There is a lack of adequately trained and experienced personnel for research and development activities.
At a Fish Culture Station managed by the Fisheries Division in the Botanic Gardens in Georgetown, there are 22 ponds covering an area of less than a hectare. The species grown in the ponds include Tilapia mossambica and Hoplosternum littorale (locally called “hassar”). At this facility, fingerlings (4 000–6 000 per year) are produced to supply interested private fish farmers.
At its Blairmont/Bath estate some 113 km from Georgetown, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) has a farm of 13.75 ha where Tilapia mossambica is being cultivated. An additional 87 ha are available for expansion of culture activities, with an abundance of good quality fresh water. There are plans to expand the farm and culture the hassar as well as the Chinese grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella).
Another government corporation, the Guyana Mining Enterprise (GUYMINE) recently initiated a pilot project for growing Tilapia mossambica in abandoned mine pits.
4.1.3 Support for Regional Aquaculture Centre
The Guyana Government is working towards achieving food self-sufficiency by utilizing its natural resources. In this context, the Government has given serious consideration to increasing fish production through the development of aquaculture. In its commitment to this policy the Government intends to culture fish in the brackishwater areas on the coast, the flood fallow fields and other areas of the sugar estates and suitable unutilized village lands of the hinterland. It is estimated that about 6 075 ha of water surface would be used for the various farming systems to give a projected yield of 6 165 t of fish.
During discussions with the officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance and Planning and GUYSUCO, the Mission was informed of the Government's keen interest in hosting the Regional Centre and its willingness to establish the necessary physical facilities.
4.1.4 Sites for the Centre
The Mission visited two sites to assess their suitability for the establishment of a regional aquaculture centre. These were (a) the area adjacent to the Central Agricultural Station at Mon Repos; and (b) Teperu, about 15 km from Bartica in Region no. 7.
Central Agricultural Station
This station is at Mon Repos which is about 20 km east of Georgetown. The complex includes departments of Livestock, Soil Science and Crop Science. In close proximity are the Regional (Caribbean) Institute for the Training of Animal Health Assistants and the Guyana School of Agriculture with its farms, breeding stations and diagnostic laboratory.
Adjacent to the station, there is sufficient unused land served by a fresh water irrigation and drainage system. The soil is reported to be slightly acidic, but this is not expected to be a major problem. The sea is only a mile from the Centre and it should be possible to develop brackish and marine aquaculture facilities nearby.
Teperu is situated about 15 km from Bartica which is the largest town and houses the central offices of Region 7 (Guyana). Bartica is served by a 20 min flight from Georgetown. Travel from Georgetown to Bartica by road takes about 5 hours. The main industrial activity in the vicinity of Bartica is mining for gold and diamonds. During the peak in this activity the town's population swells from about 10 000 to 13 000 approximately. The town has a small hospital staffed by one doctor and 12 nurses.
Teperu is about 20 min drive from Bartica. The only industrial activity at Teperu is quarrying for stone by the Guyana National Service - a quasi military organization. Approximately 6.5–8 ha of virgin land with adequate fresh water supply would be available for the establishment of aquaculture facilities. Supportive physical facilities and social amenities are extremely limited or non-existant.
Of the sites visited by the Mission, the lands adjacent to the Central Agricultural Station at Mon Repos near Georgetown seem to be the most suitable from the point of view of accessibility, irrigation and drainage facilities, nearness to an institution that could provide useful scientific support to research and training activities, and availability of utilities and social amenities. Further, the development of aquaculture facilities at this site would permit easier collaboration with the Biology Department of the University of Guyana which has interest in aquaculture research and development work particularly related to the “hassar”.
The Teperu site lacks the required infrastructural development and social amenities such as housing, telephone and recreation.
From a study of the available documents and discussions with concerned officials, the Mission is convinced of the need for an role of aquaculture in food production and the development of the rural economy of Guyana. An aquaculture research centre with adequate staff, laboratory, farm, and training facilities is essential to meet urgent requirements for development in this sector. This need is recognized both at the Departmental and Ministerial levels.
The lands adjacent to the Central Agricultural Station, Mon Repos seem to be the most suitable for the development of an aquaculture research centre for both fresh water and brackish water farming and possibly seawater also. The Livestock Section of the Agriculture Station can provide valuable opportunities for experimental and pilot scale projects in integrated farming, which is expected to have substantial development potential in Guyana.
In view of the need for an aquacultural research centre in Guyana, the Mission strongly recommends the establishment of a National Aquaculture Research and Training Centre on the site adjacent to the Central Agricultural Research Station at Mon Repos. It is envisaged that this institution would have objectives similar to the proposed Regional Centre but with a strong bias towards national needs. Since this centre would necessarily be smaller than its regional counterpart, the inputs needed as well as the time frame for its establishment would be less. Further, in view of the similarity of the agroclimatic conditions of Guyana with continental South America, a National Agriculture Centre in Guyana would greatly benefit from close links with the Latin American Regional Aquaculture Centre in Pirassununga in Brazil. Although language differences would pose a problem in training1, technology transfer should be relatively easy. English is the language used in the computerized information system, AQUIS.
1 Training is in Spanish while most Guyanese speak English
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, situated in the southern end of the Caribbean archipelago, has a population of 1 200 000 (1980), which is fairly well dispersed throughout the republic.
Fish accounted for some 13 percent of all animal protein consumed (1976). The domestic fishing industry at present accounts for 51 percent of the total supply in the country. In 1979, the import bill for fish and fish products was T.T.$ 9.9 million. Fish is generally fairly well accepted by consumers whose average consumption per caput is estimated at about 18 kg. It is thought that consumption would likely increase were more fish available at a cheaper price. Currently, desired species fetch upwards of T.T.$ 13.0/kg.
4.2.2 Fisheries and aquaculture
The establishment of the “Exclusive Economic Zone” has limited the access of the country's industrial fleet to neighbouring productive fishing grounds. The domestic fishing industry currently accounts for 51 percent of the supply of fish and fish products. The inadequacy of supplies becomes apparent from the high price for fresh fish on the domestic market.
Although there have been a number of discussions here recently including a seminar on aquaculture, there are no ongoing food related aquaculture research and development activities being conducted currently. The Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture maintains a small aquaculture station, the Bamboo Grove Fish Farm, located about 15 km east of Port of Spain along the Churchill-Roosevelt highway.
This facility has 3 ponds covering an area of 0.5 ha, but the water supply is reported to be polluted by effluents from industries nearby. The station is therefore not involved much in any aquaculture research and development activities. Its main function at present is the certification of tropical ornamental fish, reared by the private sector, for export to Europe and North America. The main species reared are Hypostomus plecostomus and Corydoras aeneas. Fish exported in 1981 were valued at approximately T.T.$ 260 000 (US$ 108 000). The private sector does not appear to be involved in any other form of aquaculture at present, although the Mission was informed of a large investment project for tilapia farming formulated by the Agricultural Development Bank that is being considered for implementation.
The Fisheries Department has proposed to relocate the Fish Farm in a larger and more suitable site. The facility is currently staffed by one fisheries officer, a fisheries assistant and 12 skilled labourers.
4.2.3 Support for Regional Aquaculture Centre
A major goal of the Fisheries Development Programme for 1980–89, is the increase of food production to achieve the greatest possible measure of self-sufficiency. In keeping with this, the Programme recommends the development of aquaculture as a major alternative to fishing. An Aquaculture Development Plan has been prepared for this purpose. Through relevant activities, the plan proposes to establish fish farming in fresh, brackish and marine waters in the country. Credit will be provided through the Agricultural Development Bank.
The Mission's discussions at both the administrative and technical levels confirmed the Government's recognition of the need for aquaculture development in the country and the keen interest in starting effective programmes. The Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Institute of Marine Affairs have recently been giving serious thought to the actions required.
Mr. Frank Rampersaud, Chairman of the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST) outlined Government's policies with regard to regional cooperation which were in conformity with the concept of the proposed Regional Aquaculture Centre. He assured NIHERST's full support to the proposal. This was endorsed by Dr. Patrick Alleyne, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries. While agreeing in principle to the nature and probable magnitude of the host Government's contribution, Dr. Alleyne indicated that a firm commitment could be made only after a detailed project document was available.
The Mission visited three sites, one for fresh water culture and two for mariculture. All were within 5 km radius of the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) which is headquartered in Chaguaramas.
The valley is situated on the northwestern corner of the island. It consists of approximately 405 ha of flat arable land. The soil appears to be loamy. Although surface water is not available during dry months, it is understood that ground water resources of the area are very good. Currently these resources are being tapped to supply some of the domestic water needs of Port of Spain. The Chaguaramas Agricultural Development Project also utilizes the groundwater supply, which was reported to be plentiful. Less of this water would be needed for the nation's capital city when the Caroni-Arena reservoir is completed in the near future.
Portions of the valley are occupied by the Chaguaramas Agricultural Development Project, a public golf course and a youth camp. However, there is adequate state-owned land available for a large fresh water farm.
Between the defunct Fisheries Training School and the shoreline in Chaguaramas, there is an area of about 11 ha on which the IMA plans to build a sea aquarium. The institute suggested that a good part of the area (at least 8 ha) could be used for the Regional Centre's mariculture activities.
There is a bauxite loading jetty in the bay and it attracts considerable traffic. The Mission was informed that IMA had made detailed hydrographic studies in connection with the establishment of the sea aquarium and that the deeper water is unpolluted and safe for marine organisms. The land appears to be covered with a 1–1.5 m layer of crushed coral, which will have to be removed if earth ponds have to be constructed. Further detailed studies on soil and water profiles would have to be conducted to confirm suitability of the site.
Tetron Bay is situated in the same general area within a military camp. The bay is partially protected and seems to have pollution-free water. If approval for use of this bay could be obtained, research and development work on cage and other open water culture could be conducted there.
All the three sites are fairly well endowed with respect to availability of public utilities and social amenities. They are all close to the Institute of Marine Affairs which is at most 30 min drive from Port of Spain. The Tucker valley site would be suitable for fresh water culture and the Tetron Bay site for marine cage and other open water culture. As mentioned earlier, the suitability of the Chaguaramas waterfront site for land based aquaculture has to be further verified.
The IMA has indicated interest in hosting the proposed Regional Aquaculture Centre. Despite the fact that the Institute is not currently involved in aquaculture work, it has plans for establishing an aquaculture section and its resources could provide some of the necessary support to the Centre. IMA plans to sponsor students for training in aquaculture and some of the specialist staff of the Institute could provide professional assistance.
Further, the facilities of the now defunct Fisheries Training School are likely to be available to form a portion of the physical facilities of the proposed Regional Centre, were it sited in Chaguaramas, Trinidad. These facilities would include dormitory, dining and classrooms for 25–30 persons.
During discussions with the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of the West Indies, it was agreed that close cooperation between the University and the Centre would be possible and indeed essential.
Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean with an area of 11 430 km2 and a population of 2.1 million. The country is fairly mountainous with numerous short, fast flowing rivers. There are large coastal plains on the south coast. The average annual rainfall in Jamaica is 190 cm.
In this country which is a net importer of food, in 1975 about 35 800 t of fish and fish products were imported. Annual per caput consumption is estimated at 22.6 kg (1976). According to a 1978 survey, a significant number of children suffer from malnutrition.
4.3.2 Fisheries and aquaculture
Jamaica's fishing industry is primarily artisanal which operates off the island's coasts and on nearby banks. Almost the entire catch is sold fresh for domestic consumption. Total annual landings approximate 10 000 t. This falls far short of the demand and therefore aquaculture has received considerable attention.
Both the public and private sectors are involved in aquaculture production. During the 1950's Tilapia mossambica was introduced into most rivers and ponds in the island. About the same time a fish breeding station was established at Twickenham Park to supply fingerlings to interested farmers. Attempts to introduce monosex culture (all male) failed until 1976 when the Government obtained the assistance of the United States Agency of International Development (USAID).
With the help of USAID a project was started to promote inland fish culture. The project is managed by the Inland Fisheries Unit within the Ministry of Agriculture and is headquartered at Twickenham Park. In general, the USAID grants technical assistance and training while the Government of Jamaica provides counterpart staff and physical facilities using funds loaned for the purpose.
Tilapia nilotica has replaced T. mossambica because it grows faster and has greater market acceptability. The Twickenham Park facility has about 4 ha of ponds which are used primarily for experimental work on growth, maintenance of broodstock, etc. The station also has facilities for breeding and the rearing of larvae, fry and fingerlings.
In addition to Twickenham Park, the project maintains production facilities at Mitchel Town in Clarendon and Meylersfield in Westmorland. At Mitchel Town there are 33 ha of ponds of which 24 ha are currently in use. Some of the ponds are used for broodstock and fingerling production while the others are used for producing marketable fish. There are 10 ha of ponds at Meylersfield to produce fingerlings for distribution to farmers in the western part of the island. Fingerlings are sold to farmers at J.$ 0.10 each although the estimated cost of production is J.$ 11.5 ¢ each. The subsidy is provided by the Government to encourage fish farming.
The project has succeeded in breeding Ctenopharyngodon idella (grass carp). Some 10 000–15 000 fingerlings are now being reared at Twickenham Park. The project intends to experiment with a polyculture system using species of Chinese carps and tilapia.
The Urban Development Corporation (UDC), a statutory body, has established a commercial fish farm at its Hellshire property south of Spanish Town. There are 32.5 ha of pond surface on the farm, 24 ha of which are in production. T. nilotica is being cultured. The farm maintains its own broodstock and produces its own fingerlings. The farm anticipates harvesting 3 crops annually with a production of 67 t/ha/year.
Private farmers purchase fingerlings (average size 20–25 g) from the Inland Fisheries Unit. The farmer grows the fingerlings for 12–14 weeks by which time the fish would obtain a marketable size of 200–250 g.
There are, currently, about 450 fish farmers with a total of 82 ha farming T. nilotica. An additional 81 ha of ponds are now under various stages of development and are expected to be in full production during 1983.
The Inland Fisheries Unit, provides technical assistance through an extension service.
Jamaica Aqua-Farms Limited (a private company) has started a research and development project for the culturing of Macrobrachium rosenbergii. The company has a hatchery which supplies its 8 ha pond facility with post larvae. There are plans to expand the hatchery to meet its own needs and of farmers who may be interested in producing the prawn. This company also produces some T. nilotica.
A formulated feed developed by the USAID-assisted project is used in tilapia farming. The feed is manufactured by a local feed company.
The present total monthly production from Government as well as private farms is about 5 t. The harvest is usually marketed from Twickenham Park once per week at J.$ 3.96 per kg to vendors who retail at J.$ 5.50/kg.
4.3.3 Support for Regional Aquaculture Centre
From observations on field visits, as well as discussions with Government officials and farmers, it was evident that there is keen interest in aquaculture. This was confirmed in discussions with the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Fisheries who further assured the mission of the Ministry's agreement in principle with the concept of a Regional Research Centre, and the Government's interest in having it located in Jamaica.
The Inland Fisheries Project has on its staff a number of persons who have been trained in the USA. In addition, there are plans for the training of additional staff. One current trainee is expected to rejoin the unit shortly having studied to the Doctoral level in aquaculture. These professionals are supported by a group of skilled technicians and labourers.
Possible sites considered by the Mission as likely locations for a Regional Aquaculture Centre were the Twickenham Park station, Mitchel Town and a property adjacent to the airport near Port Antonio. Time constraints prevented the Mission from looking for sites in the southwest and west of the island.
The Twickenham Park station is the headquarters of the fresh water aquaculture project. At the station there are about 4 ha of ponds of varying sizes. These ponds are fed good quality water from a nearby well. Adjacent lands could provide an additional 4–6 ha for pond construction.
The facility also has indoor holding ponds, office space and limited training facilities.
Mitchel Town is approximately 48 km southwest of Kingston. The facility has 25 ha of ponds which can be expanded utilizing adjacent lands. Fresh water is obtained from a nearby irrigation canal. The Mission was informed that the southern boundary of the farm gradually merges with a coastal swamp which is adjacent to the seashore. This could permit mariculture utilizing seawater pumped directly from the sea or pumped from wells constructed in suitable areas. This would need to be investigated in further detail.
In addition to the ponds, there is a house for the farm manager and some storage sheds located on the site. The complex is about 50 min drive from Twickenham Park (70 min from Kingston).
Site near Port Antonio
A private property adjacent to an airport near to Port Antonio in Portland was visited. The property consists of relatively flat land of approximately 12–16 ha adjacent to the sea. It seems suitable for pond mariculture but not cage mariculture, as the sea on this coast is somewhat exposed, and therefore the cages are likely to be damaged by storms. This site is approximately 1 ½ hours drive from Twickenham Park.
It is likely that there are suitable sites for mariculture in the west and southwest of the island, but these obviously would not be close to the existing fresh water facilities at Twickenham Park.
Expansion of the Twickenham Park facility is feasible utilizing adjacent lands. However, on account of its location, work at this site would be limited to fresh water fish culture.
On the other hand, it appears probable that at Mitchel Town site, studies in all three mediums, namely fresh water, brackish water and seawater, can be carried out. Opportunities for the latter two have to be investigated more closely however. This site is advantageous because of the relatively large area of land available for expansion. However, it is relatively virgin territory and all facilities needed would have to be constructed. The site is, relatively speaking, a long way from Kingston (70 min drive) but is adjacent (15 min drive) to the third largest town in Jamaica, May Pen.
Without information on the ground water resources of the area it was not possible to assess the suitability of the Port Antonio site for fresh water culture. As stated above, it seems suited for pond mariculture only. Its location does not appear particularly convenient.
The Commonwealth of the Bahamas comprises 3 000 small island and cays of which only 30 are inhabited. The total population of the country is approximately 250 000. This is the northern most Caribbean country and some of the islands have a sub-tropical climate. The temperature in the capital city of Nassau ranges from 23°C–32°C. During winter months, under the influence of cold fronts, the temperature in some of the islands drops as low as 10°C. The rainfall varies from 75–150 cm. The land is flat, limestone based and with limited top soil. There are no large rivers or large bodies of fresh water. However, in most islands, fresh water can be obtained from sub-surface lenses by drilling wells to the depth of 9–18 metres.
4.4.2 Fisheries and aquaculture
The Bahamian fisheries are confined to the Banks, an extensive area of shallow water with many low-lying islands and cays. Spiny lobster is the principal and most valuable species caught, most of which is exported. The total export value of spiny lobster is approximately US$ 10 million. Snappers, groupers and graunts are the important fish species caught. The fishing industry employs approximately 1 200 people.
At present the fishing industry makes only a relatively small contribution to domestic fish food supplies, as is evident from the low per caput consumption of 15 kg. The industry's role as a source of employment is also not very great. Considering the vast areas of the Bahamas Banks and what is known of the marine fish resources, it is believed that there is a good potential for the expansion of the fishing industry. However, as a supplement to capture fishery production and to create additional job opportunities, as also to increase export earnings, the Government has decided to encourage the development of aquaculture, especially in the marine environment. There are also a number of private entrepreneurs and agencies interested in the development of aquaculture in the Bahamas.
The Commonwealth of the Bahamas with its large areas of level land, sub-tropical temperature, extensive shallow coastal areas and relatively unpolluted seawater has reasonably good potential for the development of mariculture. Large-scale fresh water aquaculture potential seems to be limited to the islands of Abaco and Andros where the ground water is available at a depth of 9–18 m. An aquaculture feasibility study in the Bahamas carried out by an FAO consultant (BHA/78/001) recommended the development of small-scale fresh water aquaculture of prawns (M. rosenbergii) and Tilapia spp., and commercial culture of marine shrimp, brine shrimp and seaweeds. The report also concluded that in the near future, after some of the basic problems have been solved, the culture of queen conch and dolfin fish should also be considered.
There is no ongoing research and development or commercial activities in aquaculture in the Bahamas. However, some attempts have been made in the past to culture oysters, fresh water prawns and tilapia on a small experimental scale. Since 1972 many proposals have been received by the Government. Such proposals included culture of mussels, oysters, conch, fresh water shrimp, marine shrimp, spiny lobsters, tilapia, catfish, dolfin fish, pompano, turtle, seaweeds, etc.
It is understood that the Wallace Groves Foundation in Freeport, Grand Bahamas, is financing a research on the culture technique of dolfin fish (Coryphaena spp.) and queen conch (Strombus gigas) at the University of Miami, USA.
4.4.3 Support for Regional Aquaculture Centre
Though there are no ongoing aquaculture activities in the Bahamas, there exists a genuine interest in aquaculture in both public and private sectors. Many private entrepreneurs are exploring the possibilities of establishing commercial aquaculture ventures in the Bahamas. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Local Governments and the Director of Fisheries, recognizing the potential and needs for aquaculture development in the country, assured the Mission of the country's full support for the establishment of the proposed Regional Aquaculture Centre in the Bahamas.
Bahamas Agricultural Research Centre (BARC), Andros Island
This Research Centre is located in Andros Island, the largest island in the Bahamas with a population of approximately 8 000 people. There are regular daily flights from Nassau with a flight time of 15 min. The main economic activities in the island are farming and fishing. There is one secondary school and a small hospital. The infrastructure is fairly well developed, but public amenities are limited.
This Research Centre was established in the mid-seventies under a USAID project. The main reason for visiting the centre was to explore the possibilities of sharing some of the existing physical facilities. However, it was discovered that most of the physical facilities are now being used by the BARC. The centre encompasses an area of 810 ha, of which 202 ha are presently being utilized for its own research activities.
The Mission was informed that in Andros Island fresh water could easily be obtained by drilling wells. However, it may be difficult to locate a site where both fresh and marine aquaculture research and development work can be carried out.
Abandoned American Military Base, Eleuthera
The Mission visited the abandoned military base at Eleuthera to see if some of the physical facilities at the base could be used for establishing the proposed Regional Aquaculture Centre. The military base has more than adequate physical facilities in terms of buildings required for laboratories, dormitories, classrooms, housing, etc. However, it is very unlikely that enough fresh water could be found in this island for research and developmental work on fresh water aquaculture. There is no suitable land in or near the base where land-based mariculture could be developed. However, there are good possibilities for marine cage culture.
The island of Eleuthera is approximately 1/2 hour flight time from Nassau. Total population of the island is approximately 8 000. The main economic activities are farming, tourism and fishing. The population is sparse; social amenities, schooling and hospital facilities are limited.
Bahamas Agricultural Industry Ltd. (BAIL), Abaco Island
The island of Abaco, with a population of approximately 7 000, is about 1/2 hour flight time from Nassau. The BAIL property of 810 ha was primarily developed for sugar cane plantation. The operation was abandoned even before the first crop was harvested. There are 23 staff houses and sufficient office space unused, which could be available for use should a Regional Aquaculture Centre be established there. The Mission was informed that fresh water would be available at a depth of 9–18 m. It may be difficult to locate a suitable site adjacent to the property where land-based mariculture and marine cage culture could be carried out. The overall infrastructure in the island is fairly well developed. However, medical and educational facilities are somewhat limited. The major constraint to tropical aquaculture development on this island would be the low winter temperature which sometimes falls below 10°C.
The BAIL property at Abaco seems to have potential for fresh water aquaculture development. Some areas of this property with suitable soil structure could be used for pond culture of fresh water fish and prawns. Some of the existing buildings could be used for office space or staff accommodation, thus reducing the capital cost of establishing the physical facilities for the centre. However, the property being away from the sea coast, it is not possible to conduct any mariculture work there.
The island of Andros also has potential for freshwater aquaculture, but less for mariculture. The island Eleuthera has suitable coastal areas for cage culture of fish, but fresh water aquaculture possibilities are very limited.
It was evident that none of the sites visited could accommodate both fresh water and marine aquaculture facilities at the same or nearby location. Though some of the essential infrastructure is available in all the three islands, other amenities are very limited. There are no institution of higher learning in the islands visited. Moreover, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is situated on the extreme northern limit of the Caribbean basin and as a result, the agro-climatic conditions of the Bahamas, particularly the northern islands, are not strictly representative of the rest of the Caribbean, especially with respect to temperatures.
The Mission therefore concluded that these sites are not the most suitable ones for establishment of a regional centre.
However, the Mission is of the opinion that the Bahamas should initiate as soon as possible, pilot projects in selected aquaculture systems in order to determine the viability of commercial operations and enable the Government to make sound decisions or investment proposals.
The Mission stopped over in the French Department of Martinique for one day en route to Barbados and Jamaica in order to acquaint itself with the state of aquaculture in that island. Experience in Martinique should prove useful to other small islands in the Caribbean and provide indication of the farming systems that a Caribbean Regional Centre should focus on.
5.1 Prawn Culture
The culture of fresh water prawn Macrobrachium rosenbergii has been under investigation in the island for a number of years. The Regional Government Authority has established a hatchery at Saint Pierre on the north-western coast of the island. At this facility, newly hatched larvae are raised to post larval stage and then sold to private farmers at US$ 0.03 each for eventual growing out to a marketable size.
Two hatcheries are in operation at Saint Pierre, one following the so-called Hawaiian or green water method and the other the CNEXO method. In the first method, the larvae are reared in green water, the salinity of which varies from 12–18‰. The green water is separately prepared and fed by gravity into the larvae rearing tanks which are strongly aerated. As much as 50–75 percent of the green water in the larval rearing tanks is changed daily. The growing larvae are fed with brine shrimp larvae as well as feed prepared with tuna. In 25–35 days the larvae attain the post-larval stage. The survival rate of any one batch during this period in the life cycle is approximately 50 percent. The existing facilities are capable of producing 2–4 million post larvae per year.
The CNEXO method, which involves a more controlled system, claims several advantages, namely:
shorter larval life cycle because of controlled temperature;
less water requirement because of the closed system;
flexibility of operation, due to control of environment;
high rate of post larvae production per unit area.
Comparative efficiencies of the methods, including their economics, are under investigation.
These hatcheries produce sufficient post larvae to meet the needs of the farmers in Martinique as well as the initial needs of farmers in Guadeloupe and French Guyana.
5.1.2 Commercial production
Pond culture of M. rosenbergii is carried out by the private sector. The Government subsidizes the cost of pond construction to a maximum of 40 percent. Experience has shown that properly constructed ponds with well compacted dykes are not damaged by hurricanes, whereas agricultural crops like sugar cane and bananas are badly affected. Farmers currently purchase post larvae from the hatchery at US$ 30.00 per thousand.
The prawns are fed with a locally produced pelleted feed which remains water stable for about 1/2 hour. The feed cost is approximately US$ 0.75/kg. The prawns are grown in the ponds for 8–10 months, after which period selective harvesting is done once every month. At harvest, the whole prawns are 18–22/kg. After the first harvest a new batch of post larvae is stocked. The stocking rate is approximately 15 post larvae per square metre. The estimated average production of prawns per ha is 2 806 kg. The maximum production achieved to date is 4 266 kg/ha/year. Selling prices range between US$ 16.00–18.00/kg. The high price of the product and reduced cost of locally manufactured feeds appear to be major factors that contribute to the success of prawn farming in the island.
Currently, a total of 4 ha is under production in Martinique. A number of small private farms are under construction and it is expected that a total of 12 ha will be under production by the end of 1982. The Mission visited 2 farms under production. One farmer stated that farming of prawns was more profitable than farming bananas - the main crop on his farm. He added that while his bananas were destroyed during the recent hurricanes, his prawns were unaffected.
With assistance from the Regional Government, the private sector in Guadeloupe and French Guyana has also embarked on prawn farming. A total of 6 ha are under cultivation in Guadeloupe. French Guyana seems to have more potential for expanded culture of the fresh water prawn; so a larger hatchery is now being constructed there.
5.2 Cage Culture of Fish
Experiments in cage culture of fish are being carried out by the Association for the Development of Aquaculture in Martinique (ADAM) with financing from the Regional Government. The facility is located in a sheltered bay near to Fort-de-France. Marine fish such as snappers, pompano and the Mediterranean seabass are being grown. The fish are fed with formulated, pelleted feed which costs US$ 0.75/kg. The fish are fed twice per day for six consecutive days in a week. The feed conversion is reported to be 1.2–1.5. Using an initial stock of seabass fingerlings imported from France, 20 t of this fish are reported to have been produced and exported to France.
The production cages are cylindrical in shape, 4 m in diameter and 12 m long (approx. 100 m3). The frame of the cage is made of reinforced PVC piping shaped into rings and fitted around a central axis. The frame is then covered with a nylon netting of appropriate mesh size. The netting can easily be changed to a bigger mesh size as the fish grow. The cages are kept floating with 0.50–0.75 m above the water surface. This is achieved by using floats attached to the cages. The floats are anchored to cement blocks placed on the seabed.
The anchoring arrangement is such as to permit the cages to be kept submerged during stormy weather. The Mission was informed that cages stocked with fish have already successfully withstood one hurricane without any damage.
Excessive fouling of the cage net is avoided by manual rotation of the cages at periodic intervals. This exposes the fouling organisms to the sun and facilitates easy cleaning when dry.
Some cages are currently stocked with fingerlings imported from France at the rate of 6 000–7 000 per cage. The average annual production per cage is 2 t with a survival rate of 80–90 percent. In other cages, experimental work is being conducted using local indigenous fingerlings.
A hatchery for the breeding and rearing of fry and fingerlings is now being constructed by a private company AQUAMAR, with financial support of the French Government and EEC, based on the system practised in France in respect of seabass. The system involves the controlled maturation of brood fish, artificial spawning, incubation and rearing of larvae and the rearing of fry in green water in large round fibreglass tanks. The fry and fingerlings would be fed with formulated feed for about 50 days and would be transferred to cages when they reach approximately 200–250 mg average size. It is estimated that the survival rate from larvae to fingerlings would be about 10–15 percent.
In view of the reported interest of the University of the West Indies campuses in Barbados and Kingston in aquaculture research, the Mission attempted to contact the scientists concerned to determine possibilities of cooperation, including sharing of research and training facilities by the proposed regional centre.
The Missions's meeting with Dr. Wilson, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture in the UWI, Port of Spain, together with Dr. G. Pollard, Acting Head of the Zoology Department and his associates has been referred to under Section 4.2.5. Dr. R. Bruce of the University had attended the joint meeting held in IMA in Port of Spain on 24 May and participated actively in the discussions on regional research and training activities.
As Dr. Una Moore, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biology of UWI in Barbados, was out of station during the Mission's visit, discussions were held with Dr. Wayne Hunte, Lecturer, together with Mr. R.E. Hastings, Fisheries Officer, Barbados. It was learned that while the Belair Marine Research Institute of McGill University on the UWI campus is carrying out some research as part of thesis work by students, no real aquaculture research is being carried out or planned. Dr. Hunte indicated that some basic biological work of some value for aquaculture of local species can be carried out in the University if small grants were available to support students. The Mission suggested funding agencies that could be approached for assistance.
In Kingston, the Mission had detailed discussions with Dr. I. Goodbody, Professor and Head of the Department of Zoology of the University of the West Indies. It was ascertained that the type of research or training planned to be carried out in the Regional Aquaculture Centre was not presently possible in the University. The University would not be able to allocate any physical facilities for use of the Centre or provide any personnel support, as the only staff member who has recently returned after a short training at Auburn University in USA will be involved in a degree course in fisheries, including aquaculture, to be started by the University, shortly. Dr. Goodbody felt that UWI should be able to consider recognition of the post-graduate aquaculture training programme proposed to be organized by the Regional Centre for the award of a Master's degree, as has been done in the case of other ADCP Regional Aquaculture Centres by local universities.
The Mission spent considerable time evaluating and discussing technical and other criteria in relation to the sites offered. The need to carry out experimental work on fresh and marine aquaculture and the desirability of locating the Centre in an area where essential amenities are available for staff, made the selection of site extremely difficult. The possibility of establishing separate marine and fresh water centres in different countries or in different places in the same country was considered. Though this would simplify selection, it was recognized that the increased cost of staffing, facilities and problems that will be faced in the organization of training, would make it an undesirable solution.
Though the fresh water and marine facilities need not be at the same spot, they should preferably be in the same neighbourhood or at least within reasonable distance of each other. While it was agreed that the availability of vacant housing for the training programme and for laboratories would facilitate early establishment of the Centre, these facilities can also be developed in a reasonable period of time if the host government is able to acquire the required land and arrange speedy construction work. The Mission could not make any reliable assessment of the time that any of the host governments will take to allocate the necessary funds and establish the necessary facilities.
In view of the above, it was not possible to arrive at a unanimous recommendation. However, based on the majority view, it was decided to recommend Jamaica as the host country because of its record of progress in aquaculture so far and the keen interest evinced both by the Government officials concerned and the private sector. The on-going USAID Project for tilapia culture development is expected to be extended up to 1983 or beyond. An FAO/UNDP project for the culture of Macrobrachium and rice field fish culture is expected to become operational in 1984 and there is likelihood of an FAO/TCP preparatory assistance project in support of it to start earlier.
It is hoped that further investigations at the Mitchel Town site will prove its suitability for brackish and marine aquaculture and the Government will be able to establish the necessary physical facilities there with minimum delay. In the event of it proving unsuitable, the Mission hopes that another site for at least marine farming can be found not too far from Twickenham Park. It is also hoped that necessary housing can be arranged for the essential technical staff to live near the Centre and its farm to enable proper execution of research and training activities.
Based on this recommendation, the Mission prepared the attached draft project proposal. In the event that the expectations on which the Mission's recommendation is based do not materialize, it would recommend Trinidad as the host country. The Institute of Marine Affairs there could serve as the host institution in cooperation with the Department of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture. The vacant buildings formerly occupied by the Fisheries Training school on the waterfront in Chaguaramas can be used for housing the training programme. In this event, it is hoped that IMA will be able to provide temporary accommodation for laboratory and offices of the Centre, pending additional construction if required. According to information provided to the Mission, it may be possible to make necessary arrangements with the Defence Services for the use of Tetron Bay for marine cage culture experiments. Further investigations should be made to determine the suitability of the 11 ha plot on the waterfront next to the defunct Fisheries Training School for landbased marine aquaculture. A 8-ha fresh water fish and prawn farm, with necessary hatchery and other facilities should be established as soon as possible in Tucker Valley, preferably near the Chaguaramas Agricultural Development Project. The Mission's discussions had indicated that close cooperation with the Faculty of Agriculture of the UWI would be possible and useful if the Centre is established in Trinidad.