Hooked on Bim
by Roy R. Morris
Two Americans — one with Barbadian connections, and backed by Israeli expertise — are now in the advanced stages of setting up a multi-million dollar fish farming project here.
Richard Alleyne, whose father was Barbadian, along with countryman David Silverberg, are working to establish Regal Farms on three acres of family land at Sanford, St. Philip in a venture that will inject US $18 million into the Barbados economy.
Already, Alleyne said, they have a commitment from Israeli interests with expertise in fish farming to cover ten per cent of the cost, while the majority of the remainder, he reported was just about secured.
Having already met with Barbados’ Chief Fisheries Officer and Chief Agricultural Officer, Alleyne said their next big move would be a special fish and wine tasting session at the home of attorney Edmund King at Sanford, St. Philip on August 11.
“We recently had a tasting event in Brooklyn (New York) primarily for the Barbadian community there, and this event next month is to get feedback from local chefs and a very select group,” Alleyne explained.
The aim of the project is to produce about 150 tonnes of farm-raised barramundi in tanks covering about 60,000 square feet. The initial stock of fingerlings, he added, would be imported from Israel and should be ready for harvesting in about eight months.
However, since stocking will be done on a staggered basis, he added, they expect to be in a position to continue harvesting fish plate-ready weighing in the region of one and a half pounds on a weekly basis.
“We are very happy about this project because we know we can deliver quality fish to Barbadians without toxins, mercury or antibiotics,” Alleyne said.
“Our aim is to produce fish fed on agricultural produce, and to be able to source the grain from farmers in the surrounding area. We are also working on the premise that we are utilising a model that can be replicated across the Caribbean, so it also has positive implications for food security.”
Alleyne described barramundi as a fish that is very popular in Australia and Asia, with a texture and flavour similar to red snapper, adding that while Barbadians had a preference for freshly harvested fish from the sea they were confident it would catch on here.
He revealed too that while the initial stock would be imported, the plan involved the establishment of a local hatchery to meet all their needs.
Alleyne, a Caribbean native, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and International Affairs, and has worked extensively with UNICEF on issues impacting children. His partner, Silverberg is an engineer and is providing technical leadership for the project.
Speaking specifically to next month’s fish and wine tasting, Alleyne said: “Barramundi is widely prized for its sweet, mild taste and delicate texture. It has been favourably compared to striped bass, red snapper, grouper and other premium white- fish.
“The evening’s sensory stimulation will be provided by … acclaimed local chef, Henderson Butcher (former captain of the Barbados Culinary Team) who will present barramundi in an array of delectable, fusion styles.
“More than just a tasting, this event seeks to highlight the issues of over-fishing and food security in the Caribbean region and the importance of investment by island nations in sound food production technologies.” roymorris@ barbadostoday.bb