Our Work - Building a Fishing Industry for the Poor

Declining Economy in Haiti"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day…teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime!”…

The fishing industry in Haiti disappeared over the past 20 years as a result of poor economic and social management of the nation’s environmental assets; fish farmers have lost their historical source of income. Fishing villages have declined to a level of abject poverty. Seventy percent of the nation’s very low supplies of fish as a nutritional protein source are now imported from as far away as China.

For the past 13 years Dr. Valentin Abe has worked to restore Haiti’s fishing industry. In late 2005 he established Caribbean Harvest to create jobs and provide economic benefits to destitute fishing villages by constructing a modern fish hatchery. Located in Croix-des-Bouquets – a farming area about 10 miles north of Port-au-Prince development of the hatchery for the small (2”, 5-10 grams each) tilapia fingerlings has been highly successful.

Caribbean Harvest initially purchased 2000 brood fish from two strains of red tilapia {the Egyptian Line (EL) and the Israeli line (IL)} as the basis for a fast growing, high yield hybrid tilapia product. The hatchery has been expanded to a current production capacity of 2.5 million tilapia fingerlings per year. Caribbean Harvest hatchery uses 36 steel tanks, 6 bio-reactors, 2 biological filters; integrated with a 35 KW solar powered pumping system, it achieves impressive results.

In 2007 Dr. Abe began targeting the villages surrounding Haiti’s largest lakes as the beneficiaries of commercial fishing knowledge he received during his training at Auburn Tilapia Hatchery in Haiti University's world renowned college of Agriculture. Abundant water supplie available in these large lakes prompted Dr. Abe to select intensive growth cage culture methodology for the fish farm operations.

There are about 3,000 destitute people living in straw huts in seven villages on Lake Azeui (Haiti’s largest lake - 2200 acres) all unemployed with no property ownership, schools, clean water or medical care. There Abe began process development for his cage culture systems, starting with about 20 one cubic meter cages in the water near one of the seven villages surrounding Lake Azeui. Over the last three years production has progressed to more than 70 four cubic meter cages near three of the villages. Fish production in 2009 was about 170,000 pounds.

Tilapia Fish Farming in HaitiBased on this early production experience, Caribbean Harvest has developed a proven process that produces a highly desirable economic outcome. Four (4) cubic meter cages are used to grow small tilapia fingerlings to a one pound commercial size over a four month period. The cycle begins with 2400 fingerlings being charged into each four cubic meter cage. The baby fish are fed with commercial fish food 3 times per day by the farmers at their fish farms. After the four month growth period the fish are harvested. About 70% of the fish, being of commercial size and quality, are sold by the farmers to Caribbean Harvest who process the fish for sales to commercial outlets (hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets) in Haiti. The remaining 30% are sold by the fish farmers in local street markets.

Fish Farming for Haiti Relief

Time Magazine Video: The Fish that Could Feed Haiti
Donate to Caribbean Harvest Foundation

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. More than half its population is malnourished, and with this year's earthquake and hurricanes, conditions have worsened. Foreign aid is only providing immediate relief and not long term progress.
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Caribbean Harvest is leading the effort to build a sustainable commercial fishing industry for Haiti. Through its hatcheries and fish farms CH can create thousands of jobs for unemployed fishermen who live in impoverished villages around Haiti’s largest lakes.
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Caribbean Harvest is attempting to expand very rapidly and reach an annual production rate of 2 million pounds of tilapia by the end of 2012 with good jobs for over 450 people. Profits from fish sales will flow through the Caribbean Harvest Foundation to be used for housing, waters supplies, food, schools etc. With adequate funding the fast job growth can be sustained enabling thousands to be removed from absolute poverty.
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Large and small charitable donations are needed by Caribbean Harvest to stimulate this aggressive job growth program. Twelve gifts of $100 will put one new cage in operation. $300 will put a child in school. $2,200 will purchase 2 cages and instantly create one job. $120,000 provide 50 quality jobs that will sustain one village.
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