The fishing industry in St. Kitts and Nevis will be significantly boosted as government partners with the Republic of China (Taiwan) to revolutionize their current fishing customs.

The donation of US $230,000.00 from the Taiwanese Embassy will be used by the Ministry of Agriculture to purchase a modern mid-sized fishing boat that will be used to train local fishers in advanced techniques of trap and deep sea fishing as well as long line fishing.

What makes this boat different from the ones which are used now is its size and capabilities. It will be approximately 40 feet in length and will allow a crew of three persons or more to stay at sea for one week. This is a far cry from the present routine, where local fishers leave shore every morning and return later that same day to sell their catch.

?I have been here for two years and every time I go to the supermarket, I cannot find any fresh fish or [can only get] a small [quantity],? Taiwanese Ambassador His Excellency John Liu said, adding that most fish available at the grocery store are imported. ?I also know that hotels need a lot of fish to meet tourist demand. This boat will enable you to go out and come back with a big catch to meet local demand and reduce imports which will preserve your foreign exchange.?

Senior Fisheries Officer Joseph Simmonds said the boat will be used to carry out various tasks. Initially, it will be used to train local fishermen. Taiwan has indicated that it is willing to facilitate this training. After training, the boat will be used to catch a variety of fish including, tuna, snapper and marlin as well as dolphins.

?We needed to get a boat that is [multipurpose and not customized for one type of fishing],? Mr. Simmonds explained, noting that different types of fishing are done at different times of the year. ?We needed to get a boat that is flexible enough where you can lift off gear for one type of fishing and put on another type.?

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Dr. Hermia Morton-Anthony thanked Ambassador Liu for the donation. She recounted that commitment for this project was given last year, when Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas led a delegation to Taiwan on an official state visit.

Dr. Anthony stated that this donation is the first phase of a two-part project meant to boost the agricultural diversification programme. Phase two will be executed next year with the training of local fishers and the acquisition of a second multipurpose vessel.

The permanent secretary added that the project will improve the quality and the quantity of the catch, enhance the management capacity of the Fisheries Department and expand income opportunities for fishers, most of whom come from rural areas.

?I want to thank you Ambassador for your unwavering support, your friendship and the support of your entire staff in ensuring that the discussions held a year ago have been realized in record time,? Dr. Morton-Anthony concluded.

This move to enhance self-sufficiency and food security comes a few weeks after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and the Farmers Cooperative.

The agreement, which was encouraged and supported by Government, features local farmers selling fruits and vegetables to the Marriott, which reduces the need for imported goods.

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