Barbados Prime Minister, the Hon. Mia Amor Mottley has announced a comprehensive rescue plan to address the losses experienced by the fishing industry and to rebuild coastal defences in response to the widespread damage caused last week by the passage of Hurricane Beryl.

On 1st July 2024 Barbados experienced severe storm surge as a result of Hurricane Beryl, which passed to the south of the island as a Category 4 storm, before making landfall across the Grenadine islands of St Vincent and Grenada. The Port of Bridgetown's sea defences and the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex sustained severe destruction from the eight-foot storm surge, resulting in unprecedented damage and loses to the country's fishing fleet and the sinking of two party vessels.

At a press conference held on Friday 5th July at Ilaro Court, short, medium and long-term funding was identified. The Prime Minister described the event as a "historic, devastating hurricane", referring to the impact across the Caribbean and saying that the damage in Barbados has been "far more severe than meets the eye initially as it goes to the heart, not just of the fisheries sector, but our coastal infrastructure, coastal assets, and indeed our tourism sector".

Benevolent Fund for Fisherfolk

A new benevolent fund was announced to support affected fisherfolk, with an initial capitalisation provided by the Latin American Development Bank. Prime Minister Mottley made this announcement saying:

“The Government of Barbados has received a humanitarian donation from the Latin American Development Bank... of US$250,000 (BDS$500,000). I have said to the Director of Finance and Economic Affairs that must go fully and straight – the full amount – to capitalise the first donation to the Benevolent Fund for Fisherfolk in the country.”

Business Interruption Benefit

The Prime Minister also announced that the Business Interruption Benefit, which was initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended, for those who were not up-to-date with National Insurance Contributions:

“All will be entitled to receive the Business Interruption Benefit over the next few months, until we can get the industry back on its feet.”

30-Year Revolving Fund

For the medium-term, a 30-year revolving fund was announced, with support from financial institutions to raise the necessary funds, to assist with financing for boat repairs and purchases of new vessels, with government offering separate grants of up to 25 per cent of the costs. The aim is to ensure that access to financing is not an impediment for the fishing community.

Coastal projection and climate mitigation

The government is taking a coherent approach to beach protection, particularly along the west coast. The Prime Minister announced that a new 'executing unit' is to be established, tasked with coastal protection and beach maintenance. The Prime Minister explained the need for this saying:

We believe that in the same way we have a unit to come to work every day to take care of the roads in MTW, we must have a unit that comes to work every day to take care of the beaches.”  

“The Coastal Zone Management Unit that has been in existence for over 40 years, is fundamentally about engineering advice and regulatory role. But we need an executing unit now that allows us to take care of these beaches on an ongoing basis, and to work with the requisite professional services that would allow us to have the advice as to how and where you nourish beaches, where you have to put sea walls, where you have groynes, [and] where you have offshore underwater breakwater.”

The full press conference can be watched via the Prime Minister's Office YouTube Channel.