Creating a Healthy ecosystems with thriving biodiversity and fisheries
A training workshop funded by the United Kingdom Government is being held at Central Far by the Ministry of Agriculture under the Ocean Country Partnership Programme (OCPP) with support from the Blue Planet Fund. Under the OCPP, the UK will partner with up to 15 eligible countries to exchange science, conduct research, and develop expertise in order to address marine environmental challenges across three key themes: marine pollution, marine biodiversity, and sustainable seafood. Miguel Sosa, the Aquaculture Supervisor at the Ministry of Agriculture says this work will result in healthy ecosystems with thriving biodiversity and fisheries that communities can rely on for food and livelihoods.
Miguel Sosa, Aquaculture Coordinator, Department of Agriculture: “We are here today in Central Farm in the Cayo district. We’re gathered for the one day training that is being provided by three of our counterparts from the Government of the United Kingdom. They work in the Center for Environmental Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. These three gentlemen have been tasked to come to Belize to evaluate the fish health, fish disease and food safety needs of the aquaculture industry and so they have met this week with our colleagues from BAHA and today they’re meeting with us in the agriculture department. We’ve invited some University of Belize students to take advantage of this training so that they can take something with them from this opportunity. The three gentlemen are experts in the fields of risk assessment for agriculture in laboratory techniques for disease monitoring and also one is a experienced fish farm inspector in the United Kingdom. They will be taught the anatomy of Tilapia we have plenty of Tilapia here to be used for that type of training at the Tilapia hatchery so the students will be benefiting from that. As for us we will get a little bit more advanced training from them afterwards and there will be a report of the needs that can be met through a future project down the road, they’re on a fact finding mission here as well and Belize is interested in participating in what is called the Ocean Country Partnership Program. These gentlemen have come to verify the needs that could met by that program and if we’re fortunate then down the road we would get a project approved that would assist the Ministry of Agriculture, BAHA with aquaculture with addressing any technical gaps that we have in fish disease, fish monitoring and seafood safety. See Tilapia and shrimp are farmed agriculture products that can be used to substitute a lot of seafood on our tables, it can substitute a lot of that gap in our supply demand chain here in Belize. We have a large tourism industry and we often times have to be importing sea food and a Caribbean country like Belize would like to be more self sustaining in its own seafood needs so hopefully a lot can come from this once a project is approved under the OCPP in collaboration with the Government of Belize.”
Sosa says that the programme will both reduce risks in the aquaculture sector and improve trade in safe seafood.