President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey has made a strong appeal to government for the immediate establishment of a fishing school with the help of Cuba.
During conclusion of the debate in the Senate on the 2016 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, Sen. Humphrey reminded Senators that Cuban assistance in Grenada’s fishing industry became a reality during the 1979-83 leftwing Grenada Revolution.
According to the leading leftwinger in the country, the help from communist Cuba in the area of fishing during the rule of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of late Marxist leader, Maurice Bishop, was responsible for the phenomenal rise in the country’s fish catch.
He said that apart from the Cubans teaching long-line fishing, the local fishing community were taught how to grow lobsters.
“I want to suggest very strongly… that a fishing school be established with boats,” the Senate President told the Upper House.
Sen. Humphrey believes this will be an important dimension in “attacking the unemployment problem” as well as raising the country’s productive capacity.
He suggested that the establishment of the fishing school which will include sea-fearing can be done as part of the T.A. Marryshow Community College, and believes that the Cuban Government will be willing to help with the venture.
He also said he believes that other countries such as Japan and Peru will be able to provide assistance.
During his contribution to the debate, Opposition Senator Dr. George Vincent also made a plea for the establishment of a fishing school, and for the creation of fish farms.
Dr. Vincent said fishermen must be encouraged to use the available technology in their fishing expedition.
He told the Senate that with the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD) lots of Blue-fin Tuna are caught weighing about 12 pounds.
Dr. Vincent suggested that a farm can be established to grow these fish to the maximum 200-pound weight, and that it can address the quality of local fish.
FAD is a man-made object used to attract ocean-going fish such as Marlin and Tuna.
Meanwhile, Farmers Representative in the Upper House of Parliament, Senator Keith Clouden warned that encroachment and fishing in Grenada’s territorial waters by fishermen from some of the neighbouring countries threaten the county’s fish stock.
Sen. Clouden expressed fears that if government continues to fail to invest in some adequately-equipped coast guard vessels with the capability to conduct surveillance patrol, the country would not be in a position to stem the problem posed by foreign fishing vessels.
He called on government to acquire “two proper vessels that can do the east and the west coasts (of Grenada) simultaneously” as there was a distinct possibility that “our fish stock could be depleted”.
Sen. Clouden who spoke of appreciating the support being given by Japan in providing fish plants to Grenada, feared that the country may end up having those facilities, no fish for the fish markets if encroachment and illegal fishing continues without intervention by the State.
He told Parliament that local boat owners have voiced concern to him over a license obtained by a foreign fish exporter for fishermen from a neighbouring country to fish in the local waters.
The Farmers Representative also called for an urgent audit to be conducted on the Department of Fisheries so as to ascertain how project funds are being utilised.
He said boat owners are seeking to find out who benefit from projects that are under the control of the Fisheries Department.
In addition, he charged that the local boat owners are facing “stiff competition” from senior staff members within the Fisheries Department who are also engaged in fishing.
This, he said is a conflict of interest and an issue that has to be addressed.
Sen. Clouden did not provide the names of those government employees who are engaged in fishing activities.
Under legislation passed in Parliament, public officers are required to make declarations to the Integrity Commission, headed by retired high court judge, Justice Monica Joseph about their sources of income.