Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj says the Government will be spending $3.6 million to boost the aquaculture industry.He also announced plans to revitalise the Fisheries Demonstration Pond at the Bamboo Settlement Aquaculture Demonstration Centre.
Maharaj said aquaculture could create sustainable employment and referred to a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report which states that "aquaculture continues to be the fastest-growing animal food producing sector" and in 2010 accounted for nearly half (45.6 per cent) of the world's food fish consumption, compared with 33.8 per cent in 2000.Maharaj said there have been significant imports of fish and fishery products, in particular, frozen tilapia, which has been contributing to T&T's high food import bill.
He said this demand can be met by increasing production in the aquaculture sector."Approximately 75 per cent of fish farmers can be considered to be subsistence or backyard farmers who, for a number of reasons, are unable to achieve economies of scale and hence commercial and economic viability," Maharaj said.He said Aquaculture Demonstration Centre will be used for training, field testing and demonstrations.
In the long term, it will be used to field test the results of research and development toward improving inputs and providing appropriate technology/methodologies for further development of the sector.
The facilities, to be completed over a period of three years, will include a training room with facilities to accommodate at least 50 people at a time; small-scale and a medium-scale commercial green water re-circulating aquaculture system; raceway-type recirculating fish rearing system; deep water recirculating fish-rearing system; a laboratory area for handling and examination of fishes; and breeding systems and fingerling production for tilapia and cascadura.
Maharaj said during the fiscal year October 2012�September 2013, 234 people have been trained in commercial aquaculture, 43 site visits were conducted for potential farmers and eight new commercial aquaculture farmers have been registered.In addition, five new hatcheries have started production of tilapia fingerlings and the tilapia hatchery facility at Sugarcane Feeds Centre has been expanded to ensure a steady and reliable supply of fingerlings.