St. Kitts and Nevis is host to the 17th Annual Meeting on the Sustainable Use in Living Marine Resources of Ministries with responsibility for Fisheries in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The meeting runs from September 01 to 02 and ushered in the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, as incoming Chairman.
At the opening ceremony on Thursday, September 01, at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, Minister Hamilton said that for the two days, officials will focus on some very important issues such as the status of fisheries management and development in the OECS region and Suriname, and the status of our resources base and harvesting capabilities. They will also focus on landing sites and birthing facilities; fishing trade and marketing requirements in the OECS such as exporting fish to the European Union (EU); and the requirements for veterinary and other certificates.
“The two days that are ahead of us call for some important discussions that affect our fishing industry across the region and our fishers who make a living day by day plying their trade to make their families financially independent,” said Minister Hamilton. “Despite being artisanal in nature, our fishing industry plays a critical role in ensuring food security for all who reside in St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as for those who visit our shores.”
The Minister with responsibility for Marine Resources said that improving the quality of the Federation’s fishing industry has been and will continue to be a priority for the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“In our efforts to sustain such improvement, we have partnered for more than 30 years with Japan,” he said. “And we have several years in the OECS and the region, collaborated, consulted and communicated and even partnered with all of our OECS brothers and sisters to make sure that fishing in this region is sustainably carried out.”
In highlighting the strides made by the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis to the fisheries industry, Minister Hamilton said that it is important to recognize the significant contribution made by the Japanese Government over the past two decades.
“Our partnership with the Japanese Government has resulted in numerous training opportunities for our own nationals and has also resulted in the acquisition of on shore and coastal facilities that are proven to be instrumental in adding significant value as we address the needs of our local fisherfolk,” said the Marine Resources Minister. “In 2003, for example, significant steps towards enhancing the production and marketing of fishing products harvested by our own fishers were made when the Basseterre Fisheries Complex was constructed with the aid of the Japanese Government. And again in 2006, further significant steps were made in the construction of the Old Road Fisheries Complex.”
Minister Hamilton stated that in addition to providing amenities that are crucial to the work of fishers, the Basseterre and Old Road Complexes also contribute to the development of persons within the fisheries who are responsible for fish processing and for product development.
The two-day meeting will also serve as a forum for independent OECS countries to develop joint strategies and initiatives for negotiations and decision making as it relates to the fisheries management and development interests of Member States. This year, officials from Suriname and Japan were invited to participate in the discussions.