It’s been 43 years since SVG independence and we still have a weak economy. As a nation, we have the licence to fish for tuna in the Atlantic Ocean. Fish has more than the potential to be the foundation of our economy. The fact that it is not, after decades of independence, illustrates that a poor quality of people have been in charge in SVG.
Tuna fishing and canning is a multi-million dollar industry and if we had set up our own tuna fishing and canning industry soon after independence, the SVG Treasury would have received tens of millions of dollars of revenue each year.
The Seychelles, another small island nation state, established a tuna fishing industry some time ago. Their fishing industry fortifies the Seychelles’ economy. In 2019, the small East African archipelago exported about 6,600 metric tons of fish and crustaceans, which brought millions of dollars into the country. Fisheries is the second most important sector in the Seychelles economy, contributing to 20% of the GDP and employing 17% of the population.
In SVG, successive governments have not done enough to develop the fishing industry and help fishermen. Instead, they have given our Atlantic Ocean tuna fishing licence to Taiwan.
Taiwan creams off billions of dollars from SVG’s deep sea fish licence. SVG would be much better off replacing Taiwan with the cheap technology and ships necessary to do deep sea fishing on our own licence. This would create many jobs in the deep sea fishing industry and hundreds more jobs in SVG in the factories needed to process and can the fish.
As well as needing a Green economic sector, SVG is perfectly placed to have a Blue economy, focused on making fishing and other ocean-related activities a key source of sustainable revenue for our country.
This money would lift SVG out of poverty, help eradicate illiteracy and gross criminality, and also bring down the high unemployment rate. Having our own fishing and fish processing industry, will not only make our economy healthier, but our people too.
As in the Seychelles, a Green government will provide credit facilities to help fisherman, and unemployed young women and men to engage in fishing. It is important to empower women to fight poverty and run their own businesses. In the Seychelles, the fishing and canning industry has created hundreds of new jobs in secondary local industries such as ice-making plants, cold-storage services, boat-building yards, workshops to make fishing nets and engine repair and maintenance workshops.
A Green Government would create a tuna fishing industry and fish processing for export. Fish will then be affordable for all families. This multi-billion dollar fish industry would play a pivotal part in promoting good health, creating hundreds of jobs and bringing prosperity for all in SVG. We must make better use of our natural resources and the resources in our sea space. Aqua-culture has huge potential.
We need a better quality of people in charge in SVG if we are ever going to become a prosperous nation.