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Jamaica’s aquaculture sector is set for a 180-degree turnaround with the construction of a tilapia hatchery in Twickenham Park, St. Catherine. The construction will be financed by the World Bank through the Climate Initiative Fund. The facility is biosecure and climate resilient; designed to farm fish in ecological conditions and at an international scale. The objective is to produce five million advanced juveniles per year, using a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS).

In addition, the hatchery will not only promote the aquaculture industry in Jamaica but will also help with supply. There has been a shortage of good-quality seeds for a while, a fact that has hindered the development of the sector.

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Moreover, it would come at the right time. Jamaica is currently trying to tackle the problem of nutritional and food security.

The first stage of the project wants to achieve an increase in the number of juveniles, while the second is to ensure food security.

Thus, this first phase aims to achieve an increase of 300% and afterward improve the conditions of the fry and their farmers. Some of these steps are to reduce the vulnerability of the farmers and introduce them to new technologies. The second aims to produce food at an affordable price for consumers and warranty that the food is good quality.

Selena Ledgister, World Bank consultant for the Ministry’s fisheries sector, highlights the importance of climate resilience. That is because tilapia was the main food fish produced for local consumption as well as for export. So the long-term sustainability of the project is based on the resilience of tilapia from national to international.

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Knowing the hatchery facility

The final design and budget for the hatchery are from Bernard Sustainable Engineering Company, and the facility cost estimation is around $375 million.

The design and bill of materials for the aquaculture recirculation system are from Holland Aquaculture. The Dutch company will also be responsible for the setup and training of stakeholders, in addition to a broodstock improvement program. The expected cost of this RAS for this hatchery is $70 million. The RAS will use 10% less water than a conventional hatchery and will take up significantly less land.

The architects are confident that the plans for the new facility will go ahead.

Food security challenges on facilities

Engineer Keroma Bernard, of Bernard Sustainable Engineering, said that, among other features, the incubator will have an integrated power supply system that will operate 24 hours a day with no interruptions, including power outages. This will ensure success in adversity.

“We ensured that the upgraded hatchery meets international standards for bio-security. “There is also rainwater harvesting, solar integration, buffer zone, porous parking” among others. The objective is to exceed the National Environment and Planning Agency’s required standard for all parameters for which they assess.

Gradually, new initiatives are being added in the Caribbean region, where aquaculture can have an enormous impact.

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