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Focusing on edible fresh water creatures

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Editor: Crayfish or crabs and Calaloo with dumpling, bush yam and dasheen were among the many favourite dishes, delicacies, of the not too distant past, savoured by our fore-parents. Unfortunately, the unavailability of crabs, crayfish and other edible fresh water creatures in sufficient quality in most of our rivers and stream is of deep concern.{{more}} This issue demands the attention not only of environmental managers but also of members of the general public.

In instances where these fresh water resources exist, their quality is compromised due to possible contamination from farming, commercial and particularly domestic sources. In an effort to continuously promote the aforementioned traditional delectable foods, it is important that a national effort be made to ensure that the nation’s water courses, including rivers and stream, are free from any contaminant. Creative ways need to be developed and embraced to ensuring these aquatic creatures are readily available from a controlled and pristine environment.

It needs to be understood that there is a cascading effect as it relates to environmental resources. Most activities taking place in water catchment areas have negative impacts on the environmental health, particularly as it relates to aquatic lives in our rivers and streams. This in turn affects human wellbeing. Commercialized farming expansion into watershed areas, rising construction activities and other human pressures contributed towards current scarcity and potentially dire dilemma. One may argue that this is the price to be paid for national development – a price in which tradition “dies hard”. In response to this, this author suggests that the sustainable use of our natural resources does not have to be compromised so as to attain or maintain sustainable development. There is a balance that is possible when the integration of the environment – the system on which we depend to live – into developmental planning is a priority. Failure to take such a course of action will lead to the demise of the nation, as its natural resources perish.

Consider the following options: As a group or individually, efforts must be made to ensure that excessive chemicals from householders and farmers do not reach our water courses. The Ministry of Agriculture etc and the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment can advise on this matter. There are several current initiatives and projects in the State through which guidance on how this protection can be obtained. One such project is the Sustainable Land Management Program conducted by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment.

If it is suspected that edible fresh water creatures in your possession were obtained from water sources of a questionable quality, purge them before eaten. While you may not become sick, someone else close to you may become gravely ill.

Another possible option is the creation of a nursery for fresh water fishes – aquaculture – with the intention of replenishing a depleting stock in the wild. This will work best where environmental community groups are involved, as rewards of such a task is in the conservation of nature.

Finally, the commercial rearing of crayfish, crabs and other edible fresh water creatures can be considered. By supporting at least our existing traditional culture or the resurrection of a former one, we may not just get or add another product to our tourism package but sustain the custom for current generation.

As the nation copes with current worldwide changes in every aspect of its life, holding on to part of its traditional culture will be its way of uniquely ensuring sustainable use of the natural environment while carving out a niche market for the continuation of a Vincy Legacy while getting the “Taste of Vincy.”

Neri James

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