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April 16, 2014
Star News


JAMPRO hosts aquaculture seminar

More than 40 local businesspeople turned out for a JAMPRO-organised seminar on aquaculture recently to look at investment prospects in the Jamaican tilapia industry against the backdrop of rising global trade and demand for tilapia.

Vice-president of export and market development, JAMPRO, Robert Scott, told the gathering aquaculture is the fastest-growing food-production system in the world with major business opportunities.

"The timing of this seminar underscores the significance of this industry to Jamaica's economy and, more important the nation's food security," Scott said.

Vivian Brown, permanent secretary, Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, commended work done by JAMPRO in encouraging investment discussions in his sector.

"It is our hope that there will emerge a new cadre of local investors and exporters, who will jump at the opportunities to create wealth from the production and trade of Jamaican tilapia, for which there is significant and growing global demand," Scott added. Jamaica spends almost US$70 million, annually, importing fish products, which is putting local food security at risk.

"With marine fish stock in the Caribbean declining due to pollution, habitat destruction and international poaching, we have to look to aquaculture to substitute traditional seafood sources as a source of foreign exchange for the country. There is a vibrant ornamental fish industry, for which there is a huge international market, and the Government of Jamaica is now moving to facilitate the resuscitation of the edible aquaculture industry for the local and export markets," said Scott.

The seminar also included presentations from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries' Dermon Spence, Sandor Pike, Dahaan Brown and Dr Gavin Bellamy, as well as Rainforest Seafood's Ian Duncan, Sunshine Aquaculture's Annabel Williams and Development Bank of Jamaica's Ernesto Wignall.

Aquaculture, also known as fish or shellfish farming, refers to the breeding, rearing and harvesting of plants and animals in all types of water environments.

Spikes in global demand, coupled with growing consumption trends in the domestic market for tilapia, have spawned new opportunities for investors in the Jamaican tilapia fish-farming industry.

Global sales of aquaculture tilapia were estimated at US $5.7 billion, in 2010, as production of all species of tilapia moved from US 1.5 million tons, in 2003, to US $4.2 million tons in 2012.

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