Dr Harris calls for an expanded view on development

Senior Minister, Dr Timothy Harris, delivers the feature address

St. Kitts (April 16, 2010) — Senior Minister of International Trade, Industry, Commerce, Consumer Affairs, Agriculture, Marine Resources, and Constituency Empowerment, Dr Timothy Harris, is saying that the fisheries sector needs a higher place in the country’s development agenda as he called for an expanded view on development.

“The vision of our fishing fraternity, which includes the Government, must be to remain fixed on the rapid progress which we need to make, if this country is to bring its fishing industry to a level that is dictated by prevailing scientific and technological advancements, and that is consistent and congruous with internationally accepted standards and best practices,” said Dr Harris.

The Senior Minister, who was addressing the first St. Kitts and Nevis National Fisheries Forum held at the NEMA Building, Lime Kiln in Basseterre on Thursday, reminded fishers and stakeholders that when God made the sea and all that are therein, He envisaged the fundamental importance of fish as a great source of food and nutrition, and of fishing as a significant means of commerce, trade, navigation and ingenuity.

Fisheries officials and fishers from both the islands attended the Forum and in the context of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Senior Minister pointed out that fisheries sector is a major component of the economy and he did not therefore see why other sectors are viewed to be more beneficial to the economy.

“Truth be told, we have manifold more sea space than we do land space,” observed Dr Harris. “Some of our fishers are engaged in commercial fishing while others are involved in the recreational aspect. At the same time, the dynamics of the industry continue to change, and present new challenges to the several players who constitute this highly critical sector of our national community.”

According to Senior Minister Harris, the Marine Resources Department’s realm of duty will ensure that the conservation, protection, management, development and utilisation of all marine resources and ecosystems, of St Kitts and Nevis, are conducted in an orderly and sustainable manner.

A cross section of stakeholders and fishers at the Forum

“It is against the background of the relevance and importance of the fishing industry, coupled with the mandate of the Marine Resources Department, that we are enjoined here today to have a national forum on the prevailing status of our fisheries,” said Dr Harris.

“In so doing, we will also chart a course forward in which the industry in St Kitts and Nevis should navigate, in order to achieve industry wide integration and maximization of resources for sustainable growth and development.”

While some gains had been achieved, he pointed out that some of their anticipated goals namely national sufficiency in fish yield, affordable fish prices to domestic purchasers, utmost utilisation of the fisheries complexes as the primary marketplaces for fish and the provision of deep sea fishing vessels to fishers for actual commercial operations had not materialised.

The Forum, which was chaired by Fisheries Officer Ralph Wilkins, was attended by representatives of major stakeholders and was during the morning session also addressed by Senior Fisheries Officer Joseph Simmonds, Director of Fisheries on Nevis Lamuel Pemberton, Deputy Executive Director of the Belize-based CRFM Milton Haughton, and Marine Biologist and JICA Expert Mitsuhiro Ishida.

For the afternoon session, Euclid Warner, Manager of fisheries complexes on St. Kitts tabled a report on the complexes. Presenting fishers reports were Winston Hobson of Nevis on trap fishing including lobster, Kenrick Smithen of East Basseterre on conch fishery, Todville Peets of Old Road on large pelagic fishery, and Charles Stevens of Old Road on net fishery.

Presenting partners’ reports were Antonio Wilson who is the Director of Cooperatives, on fishing as a business, Dr Kimberly Stuart of Ross Veterinary Medicine University, on turtles in St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr Barrington Browne of Conaree Beach, on aquaculture, and John Brake of Ross University on potential for mussel aquaculture in St. Kitts and Nevis, while Permanent Secretary in the ministry Dr Hermia Morton-Anthony wrapped up the proceedings with a presentation on ‘The Way Forward’.

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