PRESS RELEASE – PARLIAMENTARY Representative for Vieux Fort North, Moses Jn. Baptiste, extends congratulations to all fisher-folk in Saint Lucia on the observance on June 29 of another Fisher-folk Day, or what is commonly known as Fishermen’s Feast.
Jn. Baptiste, who was the former Minister for Fisheries between 2011 and June 2016, indicates that fisher-folk contribute millions to the economy and also contribute to food security and economic stability especially in the coastal communities of Saint Lucia.
Jn. Baptiste, who represents a rural community with hundreds of people who depend on fisheries and other sea-related activities like sea moss farming, said that as Minister he ensured that the fisheries sub-sector received substantial attention.
Construction of new landing sites at Savannes Bay and Praslin on the east coast, injection of $14 million in fisheries infrastructure by the Japanese government, a 100% increase in the fuel rebate, new training modules for seamoss cultivation, and export of lobster, are among the many initiatives that benefitted fishers during his time on the job as Minister.
Challenges to fishers will make life harder in the coming months. The 60% increase in the gas tax to $4.00 per gallon will hit fishers hard as ordinary fishers will have to pay up to $10,000 in extra gas taxes per year.
Additionally, the government has announced that changes will take place in the operations of the Fish Marketing Corporation, a situation that has caused some level of uncertainty among fishers. There is also uncertainty at the Vieux Fort Complex as the conditions there have been left to deteriorate further.
Jn. Baptiste urges the government to allow work to continue on the fishers’ quarters at Praslin and Savannes Bay in order to facilitate water and other services at those facilities.
All fisher-folk are critical to the vital fisheries subsector; they add wealth to our communities and help to create balance in the social situation in our communities. They must be celebrated.