By Demion Mc Tair
Since the commencement of full operations in February 2022, Rainforest Seafood has injected 14 million dollars into the local economy, Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves says.
In his remarks to open debate on a bill for an Act to provide for the services of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for 2023, Mr. Gonsalves said that Rainforest’s product purchases exceed 750,000 pounds of seafood.
“That 750,000 pounds of seafood was purchased exclusively from 150 local fishers operating from Owia to Union Island,” he said.
The Finance Minister said between 70 and 120 processors are employed at Rainforest’s facility at Calliaqua – a staff complement that will continue to grow as volumes increase.
He said the operators at Rainforest Seafood, like the private exporters in Bequia and Owia are projecting strong growth in 2023.
Mr. Gonsalves, who is also the area representative for East St. George where Rainforest operates, said the government is doing work to help strengthen the fisheries sector to take advantage of opportunities.
“With the processors and the exporters in place and with robust and growing market demand the only impediment to a buoyant blue economy in fisheries is the capacity of the fisherfolk themselves,” Mr. Gonsalves said.
He said the government is determined to facilitate fleet expansion, training, and outreach efforts to expose more young people to fishing as a profitable career option.