The Barbados fisheries sector has long been a significant area of local economic activity and in today’s world of steadily rising prices continues to provide cost effective food for locals and visitors alike.
Currently, mostly self-employed people dominate the industry, and are involved in actual fishing, processing, distribution, retailing, wholesaling, boat building and fish export.
Overall, fishing in Barbados provides employment and income, directly and indirectly, for an estimated 6,000 people.
2008 has seen the government announcing plans for a new series of fully equipped south and east coast jetties to encourage the development of the boating industry in these fishing villages.
Former Barbados Prime Minister, David Thompson set out in parliament his administration’s plan for improving the fisheries sector.
He said the government envisages that the development of the boating industry “will bring with it the creation of skilled jobs for persons who have to service the boats and their equipment, and will also expand the ship chandlery business,”
The jetties are expected to come at a time when the Barbados private and public sectors are also planning a new series of marinas to attract more yachts.
The Barbadian fishing fleet has traditionally been made up of modern motorized vessels, some of which fish on a daily basis, and a much larger trawler-type, which stays at sea for several days.
The smaller boats are referred to, in Bajan parlance, as day-boats. That’s because they usually spend one day at a time at sea, while the larger vessels are called ice-boats, because they carry large supplies of ice and can spend long periods without returning to shore.
— Oistins Town in Christ Church
— Skeete’s Bay in St. Philip
— Consett Bay and Martin’s Bay in St. John
— Speightstown and Six Men’s in St. Peter
— Weston St. James and…
— Tent Bay in St. Joseph are among the most popular fisheries centres in Barbados.
Fishing villages dot the Barbados coast, but Oistins in Christ Church and the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex, located just outside the Bridgetown Port, are big wholesale and retail points for the industry.
Barbados is known as the land of the flying fish, because of the abundance of this species around the island. The flying fish got its name from its ability to leap out of the sea and glide through the air for long periods.
Besides its unique habits, the flying fish is a national delicacy and is delicious whether fried, steamed, or baked. Flying fish are seasonal creatures and are usually found around the island between the months of December and June. Processors now freeze the flying fish so that it can be exported and made available in Barbados – and abroad – year round.
Fishing in Barbados is not all business. Visitors can enjoy game fishing off the shores of the island and can experience the thrill of hauling in the big catch. Several game fishing boats operate on the West Coast and can be chartered.
Barbados is also home to another sea creature known as the sea-egg. Acknowledged as a true Bajan delicacy, this urchin is also known as white sea-egg.
Divers harvest or ‘pick’ the sea-eggs from the ocean floor in relatively shallow waters around the south and east coasts of Barbados. On shore the shell is broken to reveal golden rows which are scooped out, placed in containers and later seasoned for cooking – fried or steamed.
Sea-egg season has in past times covered the months from September to January, but recently diminishing quantities suggested that the urchin is endangered. Laws have been introduced to protect the sea-egg and within the last six or seven years government has had to place restrictions on harvesting. Anyone found guilty or breaking these laws may be fined and / or imprisoned.
Author: Brett Callaghan