Montserrat Wants to Make ‘Gar’ the top fish for the Northern Leewards

Gar can become to Montserrat and the Northeast Caribbean what Flying Fish has become to Barbados says Head of the Fisheries Division Alwyn Ponteen. He was speaking at the start of a week-long workshop to teach fish processing.

The Fish Processing Workshop is being funded by the Caribbean Development Bank under the Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS) programme. Eighteen (18) participants from Montserrat, Antigua & Barbuda, and St. Kitts & Nevis will learn the various techniques involved in preparing and filleting fish, and packaging for resale.

Facilitating the workshop is Ms. Anesta Humphries of St. Vincent & the Grenadines who has been working in fish processing for almost 17 years.

“Gar has been overlooked in the Northern Leeward Islands for 75 years,” Ponteen told the gathering. “It has been discarded in much the same way that the flying fish was in Barbados. We can use the gar which for some is seen as animal feed and bait, and make it a commercial brand for the islands.”

The Fisheries official said a recent survey conducted showed that many of the residents on island enjoyed the fish and would eat it more often if not for the many bones. The fish processing workshop was part of the effort to make the fish more readily consumable and available in retail stores.

Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and the Environment Easton Taylor-Farrell said the workshop comes at an opportune time for Montserrat, as the Government continues its push to improve food security and sustainability.

The fisheries sector must contribute to improving our food security. We are still importing far too much fish from countries outside the region. My aim is to move us from a culture of roadside fish sales to being able to purchase local fish in our supermarkets and other retail outlets.”

This is the fourth fisheries related project that the CDB has funded in the past two years. The first was long-line fishing, two fish pot training workshops and this fish filleting session. A previous fish processing workshop was funded through the Basic Needs Trust Fund in January.

The workshop is being held at the Little Bay Public Market.

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