High hopes for this week’s export of fish
November 22, 2013

High hopes for this week’s export of fish

If all goes well with this week’s export of fish from St Vincent and the Grenadines, the fishing industry will have great potential to thrive.{{more}}

On Wednesday, a 20-foot container containing 16,200 pounds of fish left the country bound for Miami, where upon arrival, it will be trucked to New York.

Manager of National Fisheries Marketing Limited Dunstan Johnson told SEARCHLIGHT that this shipment of fish could be the first of many, and will bode well for the fishing industry in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“The potential is huge,” Johnson declared. “The fishing industry right now is at its lowest ebb, in its baby stages and what is needed is an injection of resources to take it from where it is to the potential that it should reach. This is a start and if it is sustainable, it will continue.”

The manager is confident that once this venture is successful, there will be many benefits to be reaped, as the opportunities for fishermen and for other sectors of the industry will materialize.

“Once there are ready markets, then it is saying to the fishers ‘the buyers need fish, so you need to go out and get more’,” he said.

While citing that the equipment currently used by most local fishermen is inadequate for mass quantity fishing, Johnson noted that the success of the venture will be a “boost to the industry, where all fishermen can receive loans at the bank or local investors can invest in larger boats that can go deeper and carry larger quantities of fish.

“There is also potential for employment,” Johnson said.

“Persons will see fishing as a lucrative job and they will want to get involved. In this part, it will mean more work, bigger operations”.

The manager even suggested that fish at the market may be more affordable, as it is possible that prices will be reduced, if the quantity of fish available is increased.

According to Johnson, the fish that was shipped to the United States was gathered over a 10-day period from fishermen in the Grenadine islands of Bequia, Canouan and Union Island.

He explained that the fish, which is mainly from the red fish species, was bought at $6.50 per pound from the fishermen and that there was a specific reason why mainland fishermen were not included.

“The fishermen of mainland were not taken on board simply because now is the off season. Whatever fish is caught by the mainland fishermen is mainly to supply the local market here, so it was not adequate enough to take from them. Unlike the Grenadines…where there is an abundance of these fish down there, but they do not have a ready market to sell their fish,” the manager told SEARCHLIGHT.

Although the fishermen on mainland were not included in the first initiative, Johnson assured that once the venture is successful and sustainable, all fishermen on the mainland will be included.

If the export of fish becomes recurrent for St Vincent and the Grenadines, a shipment is expected to leave the country every three weeks.

“Based on the information I gathered…it will be on a three week basis, a turnover of every three weeks. The fish will be gathered in two weeks and shipped in the next week,” Johnson said.

The shipment, made up of Red Hind, Butter Fish (Coney), Grunt, Barracuda, Parrot Fish, Snapper, Old Wife and Cavalli (Greenback), was shipped to the Foodsavers Inc supermarket chain in New York.(BK)