Fri 18th Aug 2017

Over 10,000 square miles of sea – SVG should not be destitute

A Vincentian business man told the Leader of SVG Green Party, Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons) MSc, MBA, that it should be impossible for SVG and thousands of its people to be destitute, given that our country has over 10,000 square miles of sea. Our sea space is a ‘gold mine’.

We should make good use of our 10,000 square miles of sea to enrich our people. The fact that we have not, shows that SVG has a serious leadership crisis. The ULP regime is failing our country.

The Seychelles is a country of 115 islands near the equator, of about 90,000 people. It was granted independence from Britain in 1976 – a few years before SVG. Since 1977, it has transformed its economy from a poor, banana-dependent economy to a richer economy, significantly based on fishing and fish processing.

In 2008, Seychelles fisheries brought in 97% of the country’s export earnings. The fishing sector employs 17% of the total employed population. It has a main role for food security, foreign exchange earnings and income generation.

In SVG, the incompetent ULP regime lacks the leadership and vision to make good use of the country’s 10,000 square miles of sea. All the ULP regime seems to want to do is ruin the economy, make our people destitute, poor and desperate, and then control them with handouts.

The Seychelles has been forward-thinking since independence, providing its people with jobs and opportunities. The Seychelles used its sea space to create a diverse fishing industry, comprising of:

• Artisanal fisheries that target fish on the sea floor and semi-pelagic species with small, motorised boats
• Semi-industrial fisheries that are locally-owned, small long-liners that target pelagic species mainly swordfish and tuna
• Industrial fisheries that mainly target tuna are large long-liners and purse seiners. Purse seining is a type of dragnet that closes at the bottom like purse strings so the fish cannot escape.

There is also a small trap fishery that accounts for 15% of the total fish landings. This targets fish near reef and shallow banks and is seasonal when bad weather forces the fishermen to operate inshore. Other small fisheries are lobster and sea cucumber. This is done by divers.

The Seychelles has two fish processing plants that produce for export as well as the local market. There is a large canning factory that processes about 350 tonne of tuna every day. This is mostly for the export market.

The ULP regime has failed SVG by not utilising our large sea space to create similar industries.

The Seychelles also has an aquaculture industry consisting of:

• The Prawn Farm which raises giant black tiger prawn and exports more than 835 tonne of frozen prawn;
• The Pearl Oyster Farm which produces adult oysters and collects juveniles from the wild for export;
• The Giant Clam Farm which produces clams for export.

The ULP regime is a waste of time. A Green government would make use SVG’s 10,000 square miles of sea to create a thriving fisheries industry, including building a fish processing and canning factory, a variety of other marine sectors and a school of navigation. This would create jobs and money for our people.

Local fishing persons would be given incentives such as:

• Interest-free loans for the purchase of new fishing boats and engines;
• A voucher scheme for cheaper fuel;
• Concessions for local fishers who target tuna and swordfish including trade tax and duty-free fuel;
• Rebates and duty exemptions for imports of bait, equipment and fishing material;
• Business tax exemptions.

Given that SVG has so much sea space, it should not be possible that our economy is virtually dead and thousands of our people are unemployed and living in poverty. These problems in our country are because of the incompetence of the ULP regime.

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