Because of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ fortunate placement of its islands, it gives a huge area of Atlantic Ocean that is prime fishing grounds. Vincentian fishermen do not take advantage of the distant water fisheries because they are traditional close water fishermen. They do not have the boats and equipment to fish the far fisheries. So instead of funding a proper home fishing fleet, the government licenses Japan and Taiwan fishing vessels to fish those distant waters. They take millions of US dollars worth of prime fish from our economic 200-mile sea limits, for which we get very little returns.
I suppose Vincentians wonder why Japan and Taiwan give us gifts, a fishing depot at Kingstown, Owia, Bequia and a library, technical agricultural help and a handful of computers and a few police vehicle. All of which are very small fry in comparison to the multi millions of dollars worth of fish and whales every year taken from our waters.
Even production of the fish products gives us no benefit. Nothing is landed in SVG, no fish factories, no production to create local jobs. Most of the fish are frozen in big blocks whole or filleted by machines and frozen on production blocks for further value added production in Taiwan or Japan. Big prime tuna and game fish are flown out to Far East markets to be sold at prices beyond the belief or comprehension of the Vincentian man in the street.
The worst kind of fishing is where all kinds of fish are vacuumed from the sea and taken aboard factory ships where they are ground and dried and turned into fish meal, then used for fertilizer and animal food. This process is indiscriminate in the selection of species and sizes. Anything and everything goes into this process and will eventually result in unsustainable fish stocks in our distant and close waters alike.
We do not have the slightest idea what quantities are being caught. We do not have any idea of what kinds of fish are being caught. We do not have any idea if immature undersized fish are being caught. We know absolutely zilch about what these people are doing. We do not even know if other fishing vessels are fishing in our distant waters. We have no fishery vessels to police our waters; we don't even have a commercial behaviour policy that those licensed to fish should adhere to. We know nothing about the actions of those fishing fleets and from what I can see have no interest in pulling things together for the betterment of our citizens.
Besides neglecting our distant waters, there is also a failure to police a fisheries policy in local waters by our local fishermen. Undersize fish are sometimes landed and conch are being taken at up to half the legal shell measurement sizes. There are huge piles of conch shells in Bequia and the Grenadines. If the fisheries authorities check they will find over 50% are undersize. Lobsters are available even out of season and are also taken undersize. Stocks of lobster and conch are beginning to dwindle, and a massive clampdown on those who are breaking the rules must take place with all haste and urgency. I would even suggest that a month is taken off of each end of the fishing season for these two important products.
We are wasting enough money by selling our fishing grounds short, to build a new airport every five years. Yet here we are scrabbling about, begging, scrounging, prostituting and borrowing millions, perhaps approaching billions, to fund an airport which could well be funded from an organised fisheries policy.
If we don’t have the expertise or knowledge to police our 200-mile economic sea zone, ask the EU. I am sure they would be a great help, physical and advisory.
Forget the ALBA Marxist group, get back to some normal decency and let’s get the help of our traditional and commercial contacts. The Europeans and Americans have dumped us, because our present socialist regime is believed by them to have dumped them for an association with a collection of scum socialist states and countries.