The Grenada Government will soon establish an Ocean Government Institute to oversee the management of the country’s ocean resources, according to Agriculture Minister Roland Bhola.
Addressing the media during a recent post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister Bhola said that Cabinet approved the establishment of a National Oceans Governance Committee, which over a period of time will be upgraded to an Ocean Government Institute.
He said the Committee would comprise persons from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Foreign Affairs, Legal Affairs, Economic Development, Grenada Ports Authority, Ministry of Works and Physical Planning, Solid Waste Management, National Disaster Management Agency, Ministry of Tourism and arms of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) like the Coast Guard and Immigration Departments.
Minister Bhola disclosed that the Institute would address the issue of Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IIU), which has a negative, and crippling effect on the fish stock.
The senior government minister noted that on a recent trip to the Netherlands to attend the Global Ocean’s Action Summit for Food Security and Good Growth, he signed an Oceans agreement to protect the country’s “blue space”.
The Agriculture Minister told reporters that the world is shifting its focus from the “green economy to the blue economy.”
He said that two-thirds of the earth is covered by water and that 80% of life that exists on planet earth is found in the ocean and that 17% of
animal protein come from fish and other ocean animals.
Grenada’s coastal zone is said to be more than 10 times its land mass.
Minister Bhola revealed that some three billion people worldwide depend on the ocean to provide them with 20% of the protein they need while another 10-12% depend on the ocean to provide a livelihood for them.
Bhola referred to a struggle taking place in the world among people to determine how they should take care of the ocean’s resources during the next 30-35 years in the face of a growing global population.
The minister stressed that the recent economic recession throughout the world has forced people to look at an alternative and many believe that the answer lies within the ocean.
“The ocean is where we need to look”, said the senior Grenada minister who added that fishing and coastal tourism is providing annually in excess of $161 billion in circulation in the world.
“The ocean is important to us to provide the oxygen we need as living organism and we therefore need to manage our ocean,” Minister Bhola said as he expressed concern with the magnitude of pollution taking place in the ocean.
Minister Bhola also painted a grim picture about the possible depletion of the fish stock.
He said that in some countries 20% of species commonly used by humans are depleted, some to the point of almost extinction.
“We are destroying the eco-system but more than that the habitat for some of these marine lives are being destroyed – destroyed because of some man-made and climate change effects”, he told reporters.
“We have lost 30% of our coral reefs in the last 20 years due to what is called bleaching – caused by the warming of our oceans (climate change is responsible for that), a lot of the species we would normally harvest, they are now migrating out of our region because the waters is getting warmer and it is affecting their ability to reproduce as they should be reproducing”, he added.
Minister Bhola said the recent meeting held in the Netherlands focused on ways to make the ocean healthier, as well as dealing with issues such as pollution and habitat destruction and the need to save coral reefs.