The Reporter Editorial
By Harry Lawrence - Publisher
When the directors of First Caribbean Bank in Belize applied to the Supreme Court for powers of receivership and the court appointed Price Waterhouse, an accounting firm in Barbados, to be the Receiver of Mena’s First Catch Belize tilapia farm near the Village of Democracia, they perhaps did not realize that with receivership goes the responsibility for the cultivated fish on the farm.
As nearly as we have been able to tell, there are more than three million tilapia fish in various stages of growth in more than 50 active production ponds.These fish and fingerlings have not been fed in more than ten days. This lack of care is setting the stage for an ecological disaster which will also have grave financial consequences.
We have been doing some Internet research on tilapia farming and we learn that this is a complicated business. Fingerlings are transported through stages from pond to pond, and adolescents are not allowed to mingle with the adults. When the adult fish are mature, they are harvested and the adolescents are encouraged, through timely feedings, to grow to maturity.
But without regular feeding sessions and constant oxygenation of the pools, there will be no growth. In fact there is a good likelihood that the fish will die on a massive scale.
We don’t believe that First Caribbean Bank wants this to happen! It would leave an indelible stain on its character as a responsible corporate citizen, and it would be a callous shirking of responsibility by the Receiver, Price Waterhouse of Barbados, if it allowed millions of trapped fish and fingerlings to die off for want of food or oxygen.
We do not know the circumstances of Fresh Catch’s default with the bank, but that is not what concerns us here. When a company goes into receivership, it has a right to expect that the Receiver, whoever he is, will take good care of its business. Belizeans also have a right to expect that banks will not play Robber Baron, but will be conscientious in husbanding the resources of the received company, leading hopefully to recovery and profitability.
It appears to us that Fresh Catch’s problems are a temporary setback. The company can recover and its long-term prospects appear to be better than good. The industry is an important one for Belize and its growth potential as a foreign exchange earner should not be under-estimated.
We trust that First Caribbean will take these views into consideration and not simply write off Fresh Catch Belize for its real estate and plant value. The fish are the key to the success of the fish farm, and these fish deserve to live!http://www.reporter.bz/index.php?mod=article&cat=Editorial&article=4512