Government of the Bahamas

04/28/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/29/2021 15:04

The Bahamas Development Bank hosts Blue Economy Think Tank

BDB SDI team Pictured from left to right: Paige Bastian-Project Administrator, Regina Smith-Project Officer, Sumayyah Cargill-Unit Head SDI, Dave Smith-Managing Director

The Blue Economy Think Tank hosted by the Strategic Development and Initiatives Unit of The Bahamas Development Bank attracted over 340 registered participants and 20 panelists from the Bahamas and abroad. The event's over-arching theme 'From Small Island State to Big Ocean Nation' highlighted ways Bahamians can benefit from increased sustainable use of ocean resources in four areas: food, bio extractives, maritime industry and energy as well as arts, culture and tourism. As Managing Director Dave Smith pointed out, the country's economic exclusion zone is 46 times the size of the entire Bahamas, which represents an enormous opportunity for revenue generation. The Hon. Michael Pintard, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources echoed these sentiments in his key note address saying, 'Sustainable use of ocean resources in tandem with economic development is simply a must'.

The energy session demonstrated the wealth of energy potential within the Bahamian waters. Christopher Straughn, Energy Sustainability Specialist with the Caribbean Development Bank, highlighted a recent study that found that The Bahamas has the highest renewable energy potential in the region with the biggest opportunity coming from near-shore wind. Similarly,

Mark Legacy, a Canadian businessman, indicated that given the Bahamian geography, pump storage hydro energy could provide sufficient power for the country to become a net exporter of energy. This sustainable energy technology could readily provide power and fresh water for agriculture and residential use on the capital and the family islands.

Despite the country's energy potential, high energy costs were identified as a major challenge for commercial aquaculture development by Jon Chaiton during the 'Food of the Future' panel. Dr. Marah Hardt, Director of Discovery at Future of Fish presented on solutions that have successfully increased fisherperson's revenues by 20%. She pointed out that immediate opportunities exist in waste diversion in the fishing industry. During the bio extractives segment, Dr. Kirk Douglas, from the Center for Biodiversity at the University of the West Indies expanded on products derived from fisheries waste including biopharmaceuticals from conch blood and fish based leather. Vanessa Haley-Benjamin showcased her work in cell-based food production with mollusks, the next global step after the successful production of chicken and beef. Michael Bowleg Jr. outlined his work to explore how to successfully farm spiny lobster as well as how insect based animal feed production for aquaculture and other species offers an opportunity for income generation for Bahamian farmers.

Bahamian creatives highlighted opportunities in the arts sector in a panel moderated by Tarran Simms of the the Ministry of Tourism. Award winning Bahamian director and owner of Conchboy Films, Lavado Stubbs spoke about how native history and culture connects to our ocean use and the intersection of the blue and orange economies. COVID-19 has increased the demand for Bahamian yachting professionals. Participants were offered one of five spaces in a training course offered by Katie Storr aimed at building skills in this area.

To support innovation in the Blue Economy, BDB is offering a grant of up to $7,500 in each of the four themes. For more information on the BDB's Blue Economy Grant contact [email protected]