Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Donovan Robinson creates waves

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Fish pond owner Donovan Robinson assists with the removal of mud and other debris from his fish pond.
A view of Donovan Robinson's fish ponds.
A floating barge made of plastic jugs on Donovan Robinson's fish farm.
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ST MARGARET'S BAY, Portland:

AS A youngster, Donovan Robinson watched his father slaved away at the family-run business, rearing fish in ponds at New Road, St Margaret's Bay in Portland; and today, amid major expansion, he has assumed ownership and is continuing the fish rearing tradition.

Nestled in the cool hills of New Road in the interior of St Margaret's Bay is the gem of a fish farm, which is surrounded by densely populated vegetation.

While it has been a lifelong dream for Robinson, who assumed ownership of the two existing ponds in December 2014, after purchasing the property from his father, the real intent is to transform that facility into a tourist attraction.

"We now have seven existing fish ponds. Since December 2014, five additional ponds were built, and the idea is to increase and improve the amount of fish, and to also include the rearing of fresh-water lobster, and cray fish. I inherited approximately 30,000 tilapias from my father, and since then I have brought in 12,000 tilapias and six fresh water lobsters. Years ago a man gave us a cray fish, which was impregnated, and since then, the ponds have been heavily populated," Robinson added.

The fish ponds, which have an abundance of water, as it replenishes itself, are now largely populated by tilapias - ranging from young ones to adults, some weighing as much as three pounds. The clearing away of mud and other forms of debris is a daily routine - tended to by three men who are also responsible for the clearing and removal of wild ginger for future expansion of the ponds.

One of creative features at the fish farm is the use of barges, which are built using 10 gallon plastic bottles that are neatly attached to foams, for transporting mud and other materials removed from the water to a dumping area on dry land.

The use of barriers along the edges of each pond is also one of the added features, and according to Robinson, years ago, dozens of fish escaped into the nearby swamp area during heavy rainfall, as the two existing ponds had no barriers to contain the water.

But while Robinson has assumed total control of the once family-run business, he noted that significant progress could not have been made without the assistance and support of his common-law wife, Renitta Gibson, who is an inspiration and a tower of strength.

According to Robinson, his experience, coupled with Gibson's ideas, is a recipe for success, as some of the added attraction at the fish farm will include a floating bar & restaurant, along with gazebos.

"We have adopted the name Ribs in Cage Safari Village and we are hoping that this facility will be an addition to the tourist attraction in a parish where tourism had its birth. The idea is to encourage persons visiting the village to participate in catching fish, which is then prepared for eating at the floating restaurant. Persons can also enjoy refreshments while fishing," said Robinson.

He added: "We are also encouraging high schools to do vocational tours to learn about fish rearing and other added attraction at this facility. This project is finance through proceeds from my banana farm, and upon completion we are expected to employ approximately 50 people to assist with the day to day operations."

rural@gleanerjm.com