In April 2020, a Taiwanese fishing boat caught a 254.5kg Bluefin tuna that fetched EC$807 (US$299) per kilogram when sold. This one tuna fish sold for EC$205,381.
Just think of how many poor families this amount, from one tuna fish, could have supported in SVG.
The Labour Party Government made a terrible mistake in 1979 when they invited Taiwan into SVG. Today, in 2021, SVG has become one of the poorest countries in the world, while Taiwan makes billions of dollars with our SVG tuna fishing licence. They don’t even employ Vincentians on their boats, even though they know there is very high unemployment in SVG.
Taiwan is not a friend of SVG; they are only here to use our SVG tuna fishing licence. Under the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, SVG is one of the small number of countries that have the right to fish for tuna in the Atlantic Ocean. This licence is hugely valuable.
The Taiwanese ships fly the SVG flag and their ships should land their fish catch in SVG. However, the Taiwanese choose not to do this, and this deprives Vincentians of jobs and the SVG Treasury of billions of dollars of revenue.
According to the Taipei Times, a Taiwan national newspaper, Taiwanese boats can catch 20,000 tonnes of tuna a year. 20,000 tonnes in kilograms is 20,000,000 kgs.
Given the fact that the 254.5kg Bluefin tuna fetched EC$807 per kilogram when sold in April 2020, then 20,000,000 kgs would make 20,000,000 x 807 = EC$16,140,000,000. One Taiwanese tuna fishing boat has the potential to make over EC$16 billion.
This is a huge amount of money. All the billions of dollars that have been made from our tuna fishing licence by the Taiwanese over the past 40 years, should have been used to improve Vincentians’ lives. Instead, Taiwan uses this money for its people and tens of thousands of Vincentians live in poverty.
On top of making billions of dollars from our SVG tuna fishing licence, the Taiwanese pay no tax to the SVG Treasury, as it is meant to do.
What if SVG was doing its own tuna fishing? All the billions of dollars made by the Taiwanese would have been ours to invest in our country’s development. Vincentians would have been much better off and SVG would have been one of the richest countries in the Caribbean.
SVG could have had free pre-schools 40 years ago, then Vincentian children would have a much better education. SVG could have had its own university 40 years ago, then tens of thousands of Vincentian children would be graduates and be able to get high-paid, long-term jobs anywhere in the world.
SVG could have had its own tuna fishing industry 40 years ago that would have sprouted secondary industries, and there would have been mass employment now in SVG. All Vincentians would have been prosperous, all households would have mains water and electricity.
According to the Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA, we must cut ties with Taiwan to have any chance of creating a strong SVG economy and making our people prosperous.