Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Nonprofit fishery suffers double blow from Florida cold snap, Haiti earthquake

DADE CITY — Busy signals. Phones that ring forever. Unanswered e-mails.

At Morning Star Fishermen, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting world hunger with aquaponics, it's an agonizing waiting game to reach contacts in Haiti. A devastating earthquake rocked the Caribbean nation on Tuesday, leaving thousands dead.

"Hopefully God is with them," said Hans Geissler, 68.

Geissler started Morning Star 17 years ago in an effort to build self-sustaining aquaponic tanks in developing countries. The group has three tanks that feed thousands in Haiti.

In the matter of a week, Mother Nature has dealt the nonprofit two cruel blows: The cold snap in Florida killed thousands of fish at the Dade City facility, and now the earthquake has devastated one of the countries that Morning Star strives to feed.

With reports of food scarce in Haiti, Morning Star is trying to reach their contacts not just to find out if everyone is safe, but also to make sure the tanks are functioning and able to feed the children.

"We feel so helpless," Geissler said.

Students come from around the world to learn at Morning Star's aquaponics training center on Old Saint Joe Road in Dade City.

In a typical setup, a large reservoir is filled with tilapia and the water is filtered by vegetables that thrive on the fish waste.

Geissler's organization has built more than 100 tanks throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, where he said the tanks can easily be replenished by fish from nearby rivers and streams.

In Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Morning Star constructed tanks at two orphanages and one mission for homeless children. Geissler said the tanks feed thousands.

Earlier this week, a magnitude 7 earthquake left millions of Haitians without power, water or housing. Bodies line the streets. Medical care is limited. Officials fear the death toll could reach into the tens of thousands.

Geissler and his crew have been able to reach only one orphanage in Fond Parisien, about 20 miles east of the capitol Port-au-Prince.

The building suffered only minor damage in the quake, but the emotional toll is immeasurable.

"They're frightened because of all the aftershocks," said Barbara Arthur, Morning Star executive director. "The children already have no family. It's pretty scary for them."

It is also too early to estimate the impact of the loss at the Dade City facility from the recent freeze. Geissler said the cold snap killed all the fish in the 20 tanks outside, about half of their total.

"I can't count until they start floating," he said. "All the fish right now, they're hurt."

Geissler's strong foundation in faith led him to start his mission. Now, he said it's helping him deal with the loss of his own fish and the suffering he sees in Haiti.

"Everything is in God's hands," he said. "And I'm not questioning God."

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

To learn more about Morning Star Fisherman, visit www.morningstarfishermen.org or call (352) 523-2722.

Nonprofit fishery suffers double blow from Florida cold snap, Haiti earthquake 01/14/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 14, 2010 9:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. NATO rolls out the red carpet, buffs its image for Trump

    World

    BRUSSELS — NATO is not only rolling out the red carpet for U.S. President Donald Trump in Brussels Thursday, the military alliance — which Trump once declared obsolete — has been busy repackaging its image and is ready to unveil a new headquarters worth more than 1 billion euros.

  2. Taiwan becomes first in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage

    World

    TAIPEI, Taiwan — In a first for Asia, Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Wednesday, punctuating a yearslong campaign by advocates for gay rights in one of the continent's most liberal democracies.

    Same-sex marriage supporters wave rainbow Taiwan flags after the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Wednesday, making the island the first place in Asia to recognize gay unions. [Associated Press]
  3. 'Top Gun' sequel? Tom Cruise says it starts filming soon

    Blogs

    Tom Cruise is once again feeling the need for speed.

    Tom Cruise starred in "Top Gun" in 1986, and said he'll begin work on a sequel within the next year.
  4. Trump presents Pope Francis with sculpture made by Florida artist

    Blogs

    An artist from Stuart, Florida, made a bronze sculpture that President Trump presented today to Pope Francis.

  5. What could have been the game-winning blast turned into a long single for Colby Rasmus.