Department of Marine Resources implements initiatives to secure fisheries sector and support livelihoods

Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 29, 2020 (SKNIS): Securing the fisheries sector and maintaining food and nutrition security in St. Kitts and Nevis are of great importance to the Department of Marine Resources. Against this back, the department has embarked on several initiatives to support livelihoods during the COVID-19 Pandemic and establish a more robust fisheries sector.

“These initiatives are the selling of gear at 50 percent of the cost – these include fishing trap wire, fishing hooks, fishing lines, rope etc.; the ability to purchase fuel at duty-free prices, and the construction of fish aggregating devices to target large pelagic like tunas, marlins, kingfish and mahi-mahi,” said Marc Williams, Direct of the Department of Marine Resources at the April 28 edition of the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing.

The director said that despite “the current situation the Department of Marine Resources views the COVID-19 Pandemic as an opportunity to reshape the sector by building support structures that reduce our dependence on foreign fish while concurrently boosting local production.”

Mr. Williams notes that more is being sought to further assist fishers in St. Kitts and Nevis.

“Other proposals to sustain and develop the industry are still being considered such as economic support for the fisheries sector, fishing permits for night fishing and fishing on full curfew days. We, therefore, encourage fishers to continue submitting proposals to the departments in St. Kitts and Nevis for consideration in the industry stimulus package,” he said.

He said the local fishers are extremely important, encouraged fishers to keep up the good work and noted that consuming locally caught fish is more beneficial and nutritious than imported fish.

“We can be sure about the fish caught by our fishers. Our fisheries are still almost as pristine as they were since the beginning of time. Our fishers do not congregate at seam, they do not use antibiotics, they do not release nutrients in the sea causing dead zones or algae… like what we have seen with the sargassum seaweed,” he said. “Fishers are here to earn a living in order to maintain their families and provide us with the best source of protein.”

Mr. Williams urged the general public to continue to support the local fishers for their fish protein needs. He encouraged all to abide by the COVID-19 Regulations concerning social and physical distancing, hygiene protocols and the wearing of appropriate safety gear.

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