Bluefields is a rural fishing and farming community on the Southwest coast of Jamaica. Situated 12 miles East of Savanna-La-Mar and 6 miles West of Whitehouse, the community lies along the South Coast (A2) Highway and is home to over 4,000 residents. The Bluefields Market, located next to Belmont Fishing Beach, provided a central location for area residents to purchase fruits, vegetables, and fish up until its closure in the 1980s. Since that time residents have been travelling to Savanna-La-Mar or Whitehouse to shop for food, adding an extra transport cost to their budget and reducing the business and support that local farmers and fishers receive. This has led to a reduction in their quality of life and the down turn in the local economy.
Furthermore, Bluefields provides limited commercial access to fishing and farming gear, requiring locals to travel to Savanna-La-Mar or Whitehouse to obtain essential supplies. This necessity greatly hampers both fishers and farmers through increased transport costs and greater burdens on their already exceptional schedules. A recent survey indicated that local residents would prefer to purchase their fishing and farming gear within the community.
This project intends to address these two needs through the refurbishment of the Bluefields Marketplace and the development of a Fishers & Farmers Gear Store. The Bluefields Bay Fishermen’s Friendly Society (BBFFS), a government-registered entity whose aim is to improve the lives of local fishers and the entire Bluefields community, is implementing a plan to revitalize the Bluefields community and ensure that local fishers, farmers, and artisans are being supported. The BBFFS, having previously obtained a lease for the marketplace, has already had a building plan approved by the Westmoreland Parish Council and has recently seen the completion of bathrooms and a septic unit for the Marketplace and Store. The BBFFS is now seeking to secure funding to complete the refurbishment of the Marketplace, construction of the Gear Store, and opening of both the Market and the Store.
Following completion of the Marketplace refurbishment, the area will serve as a weekly fruit, vegetable, and fish market, host weekly craft days for local artisans to sell their wares, and provide a safe, healthy location for local community-based events. Once operational, the Market will bring together the community and provide much needed support for local farmers, fishers, and artisans. It will also bring local, regional and international tourists to Bluefields which will further contribute growth the community. The Fishers & Farmers Gear Store will provide essential equipment to the whole community at a reasonable price, with all profits going back into community-based projects or being distributed to BBFFS members. In addition to providing added convenience and reducing the strain on local budgets, the Store will create employment opportunities and literally allow Bluefields residents to buy their equipment from themselves. This will reduce the current flow of financial resources from the community. The Fishers & Farmers Gear Store and Marketplace keys to success are tied to its ideal location along the South Coast Highway, next to the bustling Belmont Square, its community based management team, and its plan to provide a safe and welcoming atmosphere for its customers.