Oistins. Friday night. Enjoying some delicious local fish? Bridgetown Fish Complex. Saturday morning. Choosing some fresh local fish to cook for Sunday lunch? Chances are that close to ¾ of the ‘local’ fish that you are buying and consuming is not even local. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately 70% of seafood consumed in Barbados is imported.
The fisheries sector, one of the established sectors within the Blue Economy is important for employment, livelihoods and food security. Barbados has a history and culture strongly linked to fish with fishing and associated activities having been integral components of the social and economic fabric of Barbados for years. Approximately 8,000 people are employed in this sector which accounts for ~6% of the labour force with over 1,000 active fishing vessels. Bajans also eat a lot of fish with consumption per capita being very high in the Caribbean region.
However in recent years, annual catches have declined with marine capture production being between 2000 – 2500 tonnes of fish, with flying fish, dolphin fish and yellowfin tuna contributing to the majority of landings. Lower catches and high imports are not the only threats that the fishing industry faces. In addition, overfishing and unsustainable fishing, land based and marine sources of pollution, coastal development and loss of coral reefs, changes in climate and the introduction of invasive species such as lionfish and the influx of sargassum further threaten the fisheries sector.
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In this jungle community, self-sustaining homes are built from trash and can withstand the deadliest storms.
When Noemi and Carlos Chaparro peered outside on September 21, 2017, they gasped at the destruction. Hurricane Maria, which had made landfall the previous day, had uprooted the gracious old palm and bamboo groves that once stood on their family farm in northwest Puerto Rico. The wind had torn the roof off the bedroom their two sons shared. The electricity was down. To get water, Carlos and Noemi had to carry buckets from a nearby river. To feed their three kids, they captured a pigeon and cracked open coconuts. The family couldn’t reach a working phone until early October. “It was traumatic,” Noemi told me. “Apocalyptic.”
For the Chaparros and millions of other Puerto Ricans, the hurricane served as a bitter reminder that this vestige of forgotten American empire still relies on a federal government that can’t be trusted to provide for even its most basic needs. After Maria, the Trump administration responded, but with delays. Convinced the funds would only go to paying off Puerto Rico’s debts, President Donald Trump tried to divert aid to the battered coasts of Texas and Florida. Poor communication, ruined infrastructure, and shoddy transportation left crucial aid stranded in Puerto Rico’s ports for weeks. Nearly 3,000 people died. Five months after the storm, a fifth of the island’s population still lacked electricity. No American community has suffered through a longer blackout.
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