Fish on sale in Kingstown on Tuesday. Eustace wants efforts to reinstate fish exports to Europe. (IWN photo)

Fisheries and agriculture can make a significant contribution to the Vincentian economy, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said, but lamented that the country still cannot export fish to Europe, almost 14 years after the Unity Labour Party came to office.

Former Prime Minister James Mitchell has said that in one of his initial meeting with Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves after Gonsalves came to office in 2001, he asked Gonsalves to address the fish export issue as a priority.

“We’ve been blocked for 14 years now from exporting lobster and some fish and so on to Europe because of arrangements that need to be made at the fisheries centre … in Kingstown to put certain things in place,” Eustace said on his radio programme on Monday.

“It has taken the government all this time and they can’t do anything about it. All they are saying, during NDP time this happen and that happen. Well, you had 14 years to fix it, and you haven’t fixed it. Now, when NDP left, we were still making millions of dollars from bananas. Now, we are making none. We were making many millions from fish and lobsters, now we are making none,” said Eustace, whose New Democratic Party (NDP) was voted out of office in 2001.

Because SVG has not met the European standard, the country’s seafood cannot be exported to Martinique and Guadeloupe.

“And they demand the product which we have, but 14 years have passed and we can’t meet the conditions that they have asked for,” Eustace said.

“You have 14 years to correct it and nothing has been done to correct it.”

He said that the NDP also sees opportunities in agriculture.

“… we have to deal again with what we have been doing with arrowroot, which is a lot of foolishness also, and try and get our agriculture sector back into a position where its contribution to the GDP of this country is significant,” Eustace said, noting that agriculture once accounted for 25 per cent of the nation’s GDP, but is now only 4 per cent.

‘And we now have zero export of banana to Europe,” he further said.

“It is just a story of decline and destruction of our economy and agricultural sector that we are facing,” he said.

4 replies on “Eustace wants action to reinstate fish exports to Europe”

  1. Rubbish. We barely have enough fish left in our waters to feed ourselves. The supply of big fish is so low due to over-fishing that only the rich can afford to buy them. Poor people can only afford sprat, dogger, and small robbin.

  2. james the lion monroe says:

    The supply of big is low because the asians countries are giving us a few donations and then they milk our country of what little fish we have. Soon not even the rich would be able to afford to buy fish, when all the fish has disappeared and the poor man will die of hunger, but all is not lost, we still have chicken back for the rich to afford.we have sold our bitrh right for a few scraps and what makes me mad, they will never allow us to do that to their country….what a shame.

  3. Wow, Where did these people learn marketing? Europe is one of the smallest fish eating societies in the world, why waste time and energy trying to break into a dead market place? Just like growing bananas, low dollar food everyone is growing. Where is the independent thought processes? Waiting on the government to do your job for you isn’t progress. Time to open your eyes and your ears to what is actually a viable sustainable economy. Let me simply just throw “the dog a bone ” here and say one word “NUTS”.

  4. AJR, your ignorance brings with it an amazement to me that people like you are so ignorant and want to pass on that ignorance to other Vincentians.

    Just one Billingsgate London wholesaler sells 10 times as much fish every day than is landed in SVG in a week. Rungis the Paris Fish market even more so, one wholesaler sells 35 times more fish every day than is caught in SVG in a week. Multiply the wholesalers by hundred and you can see just how silly and ignorant that you are.

    Martinique is part of France, even that market which could take every fish caught in SVG in its own right.

    What is worse you just do not understand the situation, you talk out of ignorance in the hope of scoring some silly political points.

    The fish marketing corporation at Kingstown Market in SVG is owned and operated by the government, its not a private concern. They are unable to export to Europe because they choose not to achieve the required standards to do so. That is the same reason that they are unable to export to any of the French or Dutch islands.

    The European Union has standards that must be met to export to the European countries. Bacteria count on fish is an important factor and one that SVG has ever been able to pass. The processing areas and storage area do not meet standards either. No boat may fish without ice on board to keep fish fresh during a days fishing, that has never been achieved. Trawlers must have ice making equipment, some had, but once it broke down, the use was abandoned.

    All of these failures are a matter of Government, they are not a matter of private individuals, rules have to be enforced against the fisher folk and the handlers.

    Local fishing is for local consumption, if the fishermen wish to bring back fish that has sat all day in the sun under a piece of cloth or sacking, throwing the occasional bucket of seawater over them, that’s up to local consumers to decide if they want to eat it. Because that fish is eaten mostly the same or next day, we do not hear of people dying from that. But when fish is packed in flake ice and shipped fresh to places like London and Paris, and takes days to get to the plate, bacteria multiply to a dangerous degree, it starts the moment the fish is caught and thrown into a dirty boat under a dirty cover in 32 degree temperatures.

    The government has to intervene if they really want a fish export business. They have tried a frozen shipment to the US and got ripped off through ignorance not unlike your own AJR.

    Its best to just shut your mouth if you do not know one thing about which you are commenting on, save yourself from being proven a Jack Ass.

    You can swim all day in the Sea of Knowledge and still come out completely dry. Most people do.
    ~Norman Juster

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