Deon Leslie, one of the persons behind Bequia Seafood Company Ltd
Front Page
May 8, 2018
Kingstown Fish Market to change management again
NOTHING TO FEAR

Bequia Seafood Company Limited, a Bequia-based business established last year, is slated to take over management of the Kingstown Fish Market.

The Kingstown Fish Market is presently being run by the Agricultural Input Warehouse (AIW) and the change of management to Bequia Seafood Ltd will mean a change of hands of the facility for the second time in less than two years.

The AIW took over the fish market from the government in January 2017 and in January 2018, vendors using the market complained about several of the initiatives being implemented by the AIW and staged a mini protest outside the fish market.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT last Thursday, May 3 during an interview at the Argyle International Airport (AIA), Deon Leslie, one of the persons behind Bequia Seafood Company Ltd said his company is looking to take over the market, which will boost their efforts to export  fish to the international market.

Last Thursday, Bequia Seafood Ltd exported 36,000 pounds of tuna and conch to Miami via Amerijet, the largest recorded shipment of seafood to ever leave these shores.
Leslie said his company employs 40 people and taking over the Kingstown Fish Market means that they will have to employ even more.

He said vendors at the market have nothing to fear as the company is looking to work closely with them.

Leslie added also that locals will not be left out of the mix as the company sells fish locally and there is enough seafood available for local consumption as well as exportation.

“Whoever wants fish we sell them fish. Once they call we supply them. We try to supply the restaurants, local people, the hotels,” said Leslie. He added also that Bequia Seafood guarantees fishermen that they will get the best price for their fish.

“We just want good quality fish, we will teach proper practices how to put fish on ice and ice them properly, because fish needs to be stored on ice because fish out in the sun starts to cook; once the quality is good we will buy them.

We don’t have a limit on the amount of stuff we could move, conch, lobster and fish,” stressed Leslie.

Commenting on the fish market’s move from the AIW to Bequia Seafood Ltd, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Saboto Caesar said the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines has espoused and implemented an enabling environment by providing the infrastructure, in this case fisheries centres, and made them available for lease to the private sector.

“We have advanced that we have a preference where nationals will come forward whether they form companies, joint ventures, whether co-operatives, fisherfolk organizations and lease these centres,” said Caesar.He said discussions related to the change of hands of the fish market will conclude in the next three or four months.

“The vendors are invited to all the meetings, the investors are at the table and we look forward to the next three or four months, the possibility of us seeing St Vincent and the Grenadines through the Kingstown Fish Market facility, becoming one of the major transshipment points for fish, particularly tuna, coming from the high seas while we continue to see this taking place in Owia, activities in Bequia and activities in other fish centres,” said Caesar.

He noted that the vendors will sell their fish at the front of the market as usual, while Bequia Seafood will share the operational cost for the entire building which includes electricity, water and the production and sale of ice.

“It’s not going to change materially, because currently there is an arrangement with the Input Warehouse and the role that the Input Warehouse played is going to be given to a private company,” said Caesar.He added, “it is not a matter of the vendors going to be kicked out of the market at all. In fact, we are giving the vendors the ownership. Instead of the vendors just paying a rent, they now will collectively own, run and operate the vending section of the market, whilst we focus on the international trade at the back part of the market.”