CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (January 25, 2007)
Minister with responsibilities for Fisheries on Nevis the Hon. Robelto Hector said that the ongoing series of consultations with the fishers of Nevis had revealed a number of areas in need of strengthening in the existing policy of the Fisheries Department.
Mr. Hector told the Department of Information on Thursday January 25, 2007, that the consultations served as a fact gathering mission, to put together and refine its policy which would ultimately have greater benefit for the fishers. He said the consultations offered the opportunity for the fishers to contribute to the development of the fisheries policy.
“The consultations with the fishermen, I would say, are giving the results that I hoped for in terms of assisting us at the Ministry in putting together the package that they [fishers] would benefit from over the next five years and beyond,” he said. So far consultations have been convened with the fishers of Jessups, Hanley’s Road and Bath Village and according to Mr. Hector the attendance has been rewarding. The final consultation is expected to be held at the Violet O. Jeffers Nicholls Primary School for the fishers of the St. James Parish.
Among other key issues coming out of the consultations so far is the need for further education with regard to safety at sea; the management of species, fishing techniques, supplies, Praedial Larceny and concessions.
“You have a situation where a ban was placed within the OECS on the wire gauge and farmers have resistance on it and we are realising through education, we have to show them the purpose of the whole legislation why it was done so.
We are getting an indication that our fishing banks are being affected now by the volcanic eruption in Montserrat. Divers in those areas are saying there is a mud base at the bottom and it seems there is an algae and they find that our fishing stock in those areas are depleted,” he said.
In the area of supplies, Mr. Hector disclosed that during discussions it was revealed that wire used for the construction of fish pots were being offered at a less expensive rate to the fishers in St. Kitts and therefore consideration would be given to forge a collaborative purchase effort between the Ministries of Agriculture in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Another key area discussed was the revival of the Fisheries Cooperative which was closed in December 2006. The Fisheries Minister said he shut down the Cooperative because of bankruptcy following discussions with the board of directors and a review of the Cooperative’s Audit Report.
“In terms of the revival of the Cooperative, so far, fishers in the three locals have agreed that they would pay $100 to increase their capital and $20 per month to raise money and revive the cooperative membership,” he said. “I see the Fisheries Cooperative as the nucleus around which we organise fishermen on the island and the consultation so far, has given us direction in terms of the fishermen’s needs.”
In relation to the harvesting of undersized lobsters there was the suggestion that perhaps the time had come for the introduction of closed and open seasons and the effective enforcement which included policing of Nevis‘ waters.
He said that move would necessitate a look at the legislation to see what could be done bearing in mind that it was a Federal matter since the waters were intertwined.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Hector said plans are afoot for a planning and review session early in February so that all the data collected during the consultations would be used to draw up a programme for the Fisheries Department.
CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (January 25, 2007)