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Sustainable Aquaculture Program

argaiv1714

Progress Report for Haiti Visit

10/29/2010 – 11/4/2010

The primary purpose of my recent visit to Haiti was to monitor progress of the Aquaculture

Learning Center and fish rearing facility being built at the Henri Christophe School in

Mirgote, Haiti, near Jacmel. Over 600 students attend the school.

HAES_MBL_Fish_Farm_Proj_Rendering-1

Artist’s rendition of “Aquaculture Learning Center” at the

Henri Christophe School, Mirogte Haiti

 

This pond system is designed on a corresponding scale to address three very important objectives:

• to produce fish as a source of revenue and high quality nutrition for students and teachers;

• to provide a template for a system (or components thereof) that can be easily duplicated by others;

• to provide a training center for people interested in perpetuating these techniques in other areas of

Haiti.

Haitians teaching Haitians is our ultimate goal. Our ambition is to use this new demonstration facility as a platform to help others launch their own fish rearing systems. Establishing a simple, sustainable, and easily replicated method of producing fish for human consumption is foundation of our mission. The system being built will incorporate design and equipment to maximize the pounds of fish produced per unit area. People or organizations (hospitals, schools, etc.) that wish to duplicate the system will easily be able to do so; in situations of more limited resources, selected components and methods in this system can be easily adapted.

The “Good News” from this trip is that most of the basin’s concrete and mortar work has been completed, as shown here in photos. Laborers have been paid and almost all of the materials needed have been purchased. Over $4,000 of salary has been earned by laborers building the basin; these are people who otherwise have no income! We have spent $6,000 to purchase building materials from local vendors, including concrete block, cement, reinforcement bars, pipe and tools.


HAES-MBL_Jacmel_Fish_Basin_Const_1-1

Basin under construction


The finishing concrete surface work should be completed in December. The next step will be to fill the system with water, test for leaks, and return to Haiti to arrange for the stocking of fish into the system. If all goes well, we hope the basin will be fully operational in January!

We have been extremely fortunate in this endeavor to be partnering with the Haitian American Engineers and Scientist Association (HAES), a non-profit group based in Miami. HAES is a well-respected organization in Haiti, whose involvement lends great credence to our project. We benefit from HAES’s integral contacts in the local communities, and from the expertise they bring to executing this complex project in an even more complex environment. The insight and guidance provided by HAES has been vital in helping move the project forward. They have helped us navigate through rocky waters that have sunk many equally valiant efforts. As we have learned over the years, the science of rearing fish is easy; the social and political obstacles are far more difficult to navigate. The people from HAES have been extraordinary collaborators in helping us understand these issues, and in helping to gain support for the project within the community.

As the Aquaculture Learning Center begins producing fish, it will also provide a demonstration classroom for lessons in mathematics, chemistry, and biology. Teachers will create curriculum for students to apply while monitoring the basin’s water quality, fish growth rates, and overall yield. We have already provided a dozen of laptop computers to the school to use for these lessons (and others). The students will provide us ongoing data via email messaging, which will allow us to track the basin’s productivity and troubleshoot as needed.

During this visit I was able to fix the plumbing system at Henri Christophe. For the first time since the school was built two years ago, students and teachers now have flush toilets, working sinks and a working septic system. This project was not on our agenda, but given the rapidly spreading Cholera epidemic, it was particularly important to address. The success of the plumbing refit further bolstered our relationship with our Haitian partners.

IMG00021-20100824-1604-1

One of the outdoor classrooms next to the fish basin

 

When the fish basin is finished, our next logistical hurdle is to determine a method for transporting supplemental fish feed and fingerlings from the Lake Azuie area of Haiti to Mirgote. We met with a local quarry operator who delivers stone to the lake Azuie area; he has offered to have one of his trucks haul the fish supplies back to Jacmel if needed. We will look for other options as well, but it was good to get a functional plan for delivery put in place.

One of the most interesting discoveries on this trip was a meeting we had with a Taiwanese organization that is promoting bamboo and poultry rearing technology nearby our Henri Christophe  location. This organization has a huge bamboo nursery and massive poultry production facility. They offer training courses—free of charge—to Haitians interested in learning how to propagate bamboo, build using bamboo, and farm chickens. Anyone who comes to learn about chicken farming is provided with a bamboo chicken coop, and a few chickens to get started. This is a wonderful organization, and they are very interested in working with us to possibly include fish rearing as a component of their project!

The Taiwanese group is located a few miles down the road from the school where we are building the fish rearing system, and they have offered to provide us with a custom designed and constructed chicken coop to position over a portion of the fishrearing basin at the school. The nutrients from the poultry waste will help “turbo charge” periphyton growth in the fish pond. Furthermore, the students will now have fish AND eggs to eat and to sell. In advance of our next visit to Haiti, I am working with the director of this organization to solidify a more formal relationship and to develop possible fish/bamboo/poultry curriculum for Henri Christophe students.

On this trip, my departing flight to the U.S was scheduled for the day that Hurricane Tomas arrived in Haiti. Reports I have received since then are good: the school and fish basin survived the hurricane in fine shape despite almost 10 inches of rain and heavy winds (you can see from the pictures how close the school is to the ocean). We are very thankful that the hurricane did not more seriously impact Haiti’s southern coast. 

 This is an exciting time for our Haitian friends-—and their supporting partners in Sanibel and Woods Hole. Everyone in Mirgote is talking about the “fish basin” and very interested in the project. We have here a very important opportunity to efficiently demonstrate the value and ease of fish farming in a large community setting, while also providing health benefits to the next generation of Haitians. I will send additional pictures as they become available and keep everyone updated on this marvelous mission you have made possible. I hope everyone at Saint Michael’s and All Angels is as enthused and excited as we are. Without your help none of this would have been possible – you have provided a wonderful gift and a chance for many people to improve their lives! Blessings to you all, and many, many thanks.

THANK YOU FOR HELPING

MAKE THIS DREAM A REALITY!

William N. Mebane

Director, Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Marine Biological Laboratory

Woods Hole, Massachusetts

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10/31/10: The Henri Christophe fish basin

nears completion

Shells!