As efforts are ramped-up to increase fisher folk’s capacity to harvest more seafood and to expand the market, the government has allocated $1.5 million toward the construction of the Barrouallie Blackfish market.
Word on this came from Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Camillo Gonsalves on Monday in his 2021 budget presentation in parliament.
Gonsalves said work on the construction of the new facility has been delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the $1.5 million is to accelerate construction.
“While we have acquired and cleared the land for construction of this facility, Covid complications prevented our Japanese partners and Japanese contractors from completing necessary site visits and mobilizations last year.
“We are optimistic that we will be able to welcome them into St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2021 and that work will commence to create a new facility that will allow this specialty product to be caught and processed within the framework of our laws and regulations and in accordance with the highest international standards,” Gonsalves told parliament.
According to Gonsalves, the ministries of agriculture and foreign affairs have initiated important negotiations to expand the regional and international markets for seafood.
Speaking of a European Union sanction on this country in relation to fishing, the finance minister said his government is optimistic that it will be lifted.
Governsalves said that in light of local reforms and changes, government has reengaged the European Union to revoked the “red card” imposed for insufficiently combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
The finance minister stated: “We believe that the classification is now unwarranted in light of recent measures taken. And we will work with the EU to address this situation. We are optimistic that Vincentian fishers and processors will regain access to the EU market in the medium term,” he said.
The finance minister said that his government is also working on an agreement with the government of Taiwan to facilitate preferential access for seafood into their market. He said that while existing seafood processors sell their products in Hong Kong, the agreement his government is hoping to conclude will give a competitive advantage over similar products entering Taiwan from the USA, Australia or Latin America.