Ben Exeter, the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) Candidate for Central Leeward has shared his development plans for the fishing industry in the constituency and by extension, the country.
Exeter, speaking on the WakeUp Call last Thursday (Sept. 10), noted though Central Leeward is traditionally a fishing community, the mode of fishing is still traditional.
“Two boats and a seine, with that there comes a lot of limitations as to how far you can go and the catch,” Exeter said, pointing out that there are no fishing trawlers in St. Vincent, restricting the reach of fishermen.
Exeter explained that he often sees foreign fishermen dock at Vincentian harbours to buy fish bait.
“I live in Layou, right on the coastline and from my vantage point I can see trawlers coming into our harbour, not flying the Vincy flag. These are trawlers from Grenada, St. Lucia, Venezuela.”
“We don’t have the tools or equipment to go out into deeper waters to catch fish. What we resulted to, is catching the bait for these foreign trawlers. They come to purchase bait… that’s all we can offer,” he stated.
Exeter said: “We have the fish, obviously because we have the largest fishing zone in the OECS, but yet we don’t have any fishing trawlers. Grenada exports close to $50 million worth of fish because they have over 38 trawlers, we have none.”
He pointed out that SVG has the fish, the fishermen, the logistics and a ready market.
“Everything is there. The only thins that is missing is our ability to catch fish.”
The IT professional shared the NDP’s plan to expand the fishing sector.
“Here’s what we’ll do, we will offer incentives, loans, grants to people who are interested in getting involved in commercial fishing. A lot of fishing trawlers are made in the Grenadines, we don’t have to go very far. We’ll make it available, the funding, the means for people to either purchase or lease the vessels.”
“We’ll do this through the development bank which we will reinstate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Exeter concluded.