Rebuilding the fisheries and agricultural sectors on Abaco and Grand Bahama post-Hurricane Dorian will require the creation of a complete and extensive registry of participants in the field, as well as ensuring facilities and machinery are properly reconstructed to code, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has cautioned.
The fisheries and agricultural industries, two very important components of those islands’ economies, sustained a combined $14 million in damage and $11 million in losses according to the recently released “Assessment of the Effects and Impacts of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas” report.
The report outlines recommendations for the fisheries sector, including that it is necessary to establish a complete registry of all vessels and fishermen devoted to the sector to mitigate against future losses in the event of another catastrophic event.
“This will help in the design of a plan for the recovery of the sector and to better target the allocation of reconstruction resources. It is important that the new infrastructure is build up to code and there should be incentives for those managing key facilities to bring them back to operation as soon as possible,” the report states.
“Fishing is an activity that supports many families and in some areas of The Bahamas is the main activity, particularly in smaller communities.
“To estimate the losses to fisheries, the yearly total catch was broken down to a monthly amount for Abaco and Grand Bahama. A full recovery should occur in eight months, with such relative quickness due to the important nature of this activity. In order to estimate losses, the seasons for spiny lobster and stone crab were also considered. Special attention in the recovery should be paid to the processing facilities.”
Although damage in the agriculture sector totaled just under $3 million, the IDB believes the sector would rebound by mid-2020.
“Most of the damage is associated to the poultry facility located on Abaco. In this facility the estimated damage to infrastructure was $0.8 million. Also linked to this facility, the damage in animal property was $1 million. The damage in green houses is estimated to be over $187,000, while the damage in perennial plants is estimated at $0.66 million. A total of $197,000 is the estimated damage to agriculture-related equipment,” the report states.
“The reconstruction of all agricultural infrastructure should be done meeting the code requirements. Regarding the greenhouses, information should be provided regarding better practices in materials, shapes and structures. There should be also information available on how to recover the affected soil. The current agricultural registry should be updated and expanded to include smaller producers. Information should also be provided to agricultural producers on the benefits of insurance and helping them design a plan to put in place in the event of a storm.”
Last month, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said the government plans to undertake an aggressive campaign to create legislation and policy to expand the development of the blue economy, especially aquaculture.
Earlier this year, Pintard also said a plan to reduce the country’s reliance on food imports would cost $1.6 million, which would be used to assist farmers on Abaco and Grand Bahama first, before farmers in other parts of the nation.