Lobster farmers given extension to use styrofoam coolers

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The Ministry of the Environment continues the course of implementing the Polystyrene Styrofoam ban.

This has led to numerous consultations with business owners who are affected by the recent developments including Lobster Farmers.

The Lobster Farmers met with minister Molwyn Joseph along with Environment Implementation Coordinator, Indira James-Henry on Thursday 20th December, 2018 in the Ministry’s Conference Room.

The Ministry has decided to give an extension on the use of Styrofoam Coolers to Lobster Farmers who export their products as a result of discussions held with representatives from the Fisheries Division, Fresh Catch, Lil Lincs, Lincoln Farms, Ocean Kingdom, CRP, Indies Greens and Shell Beach Corporation.

During the consultation, the farmers were asked by Minister Joseph what challenges they will face as a result of the ban on the Styrofoam Coolers.

The Lobster Farmers indicated that their concerns were regulations set by airlines regarding the type of container the lobster is exported in and if the alternative option will be accepted by the airlines.

The other concern was the cost of the alternative options and its durability through the long hours of travel. The lobsters are exported as far as Europe, Hong Kong and China, sometimes for 34 hours. 

Minister Joseph, in response, indicated his willingness to work with the lobster farmers so that their trade is not interrupted.   He has given a 6 month extension, until June 30 for them to transition to more eco-friendly products.

In addition, the Fisheries Division will be responsible for purchasing the Styrofoam coolers while establishing an identification system.  This will ensure that all coolers are accounted for at all times, reducing circulation in the local market. 

They have also agreed to use standardized sizes of boxes as another way of accountability.

Environment Implementation Coordinator, Indira James-Henry indicated to the farmers that a suitable sustainable alternative has been identified in line with the Ministry’s initiative. Green Cell Foam is made from corn. It is compostable and biodegradable.

In addition, the Lobster farmers will be able to boast of green packaging while promoting their product which in turn can influence more customers to support the green initiative.

This extension is only for lobster farmers who are exporting their products.  These Styrofoam coolers are not to be purchased, distributed or used in Antigua and Barbuda. Anyone found in contempt will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.

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