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Sub-regional Countries Continue to Consolidate their Position on Fisheries

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Thursday, November 03, 2005 - Collective solidarity has been cited as the sub-region’s best defence against multilateral pressures on their fisheries sector. This issue was the focus of a two-day OECS forum on Fisheries and Trade which began at the Bay Gardens Hotel on Thursday October 3rd 2005.

Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Saint Lucia Honourable Ignatius Jean said it has been proven the consolidation of efforts in fisheries and other areas of trade forces the international community to pay attention to the region.

“That is something that we must continue, and of course continue to work closely, to consolidate our efforts and have the kind of caucuses that we can discuss issues prior to going to the international fora, so that we go there with one position—as an OECS or a CARICOM position which will strengthen our negotiations when we go to the international arena,” Minister Jean said.

The two-day exercise will serve to raise the awareness among stakeholders of the key issues involving discussion on International Trade and Fisheries. Director of the Social and Sustainable Development Division of the OECS Secretariat Dr. Vasantha Chase said it is hoped that as a result of this intervention private sector stakeholders will become advocates for the articulation and safeguarding of their interests at the highest levels.

“The workshop, we hope, will serve as an opportunity to allow for the type of cross fertilization between fisheries and trade officials and that this fertilization will provide the basis, not only for greater familiarity with perspectives of each other, but also as a basis for a joint OECS position on the issues and the nexus between fisheries and trade,” the Fisheries Minister Said.

Fisheries have been considered the lifeblood of coastal communities in Saint Lucia, contributing in excess of 19 million EC Dollars to the island’s economy. Recognizing this valuable contribution, government has provided incentives to the industry through duty free concessions on boats, engines, equipment and other related materials. The incentive package which is estimated at three million dollars annually also includes a 75cents per gallon fuel rebate to fishers.

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