Great debt owed to fishing industry
New Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development, Denis Kellman, wants the proposed Northern Fisheries Project mooted under the former Barbados Labour Party Government since 1994 to be implemented.
Making his contribution to the Estimates debate in the Lower Chamber this morning, he said he hoped the funds made available to that project under the European Union were still available.
“We were told in this House how money was set aside by the EU since 1994 for this project, but we have not been able to see it,” noted Kellman, the MP for the northern constituency of St.Lucy.
Kellman told the House of Assembly the fishing industry was the one sector to which this country owed a great debt.
“Because when there was the world crisis with food and so on, it is the fishing industry that provided the opportunity and increases to their stock, because the fishermen really held the hands of the consumers, and ensure that they got that protein at the right price,” argued the minister.
As a result, he said, Barbados was obligated to have “some deliverables” to the fisherfolk because they had served the island well.
“And I find that it is regrettable, sir, that in 2013, the minister of agricultural now has to look … and I have seen the petition that came to him from the fisherfolk in the north of Barbados, and I want to say I whole-heartedly support it,” Kellman submitted.
He drew attention to the situation between Speightstown, Six Men’s and Half Moon Fort to argue a case for assistance to the fishing sector in northern Barbados.
“We need to set up proper facilities for them and I think we may have to look and see if the funds that the European Union offered Barbados since 1994, if they are still there,” he added.
It was clear, despite the talk from the Opposition BLP, that the country could expect little productivity from those on the north, considering the “talk about jetties for everybody else”, except the fisherfolk in the north.
He also suggested that the money which was “wasted” on seeking to set up a landing site at Skeete’s Bay should been spent on Consett Bay, which had more space.
“We have to recognise that we can no longer continue to have the fisherfolk of Barbados in a situation where only 25 to 50 per cent of their boats can be repaired at any one time, and that when the fishing season starts, that you cannot have 50 per cent of their boats in the water, because we do not have the necessary repair space for it,” Kellman added.
He said he did not believe people should still be hauling up their boats on the beaches with limited space, but instead, proper workshops should be constructed for them.
The St. Lucy MP also told the House that Conset Bay should be the landing site where all fish from the north were channelled to the various markets. Reflecting on his tenure as CARICOM ambassador, with special focus on securing a fishing agreement with Trinidad and Tobago, Kellman claimed there were some in the Opposition who wanted him to surrender this island’s oil rights in order to secure a fishing accord.
Referring to the selling of the Barbados National Bank by the BLP Administration, which he suggested had Barbadians angry, Kellman asserted that nobody could have got him to give up “our oil rights” for fish.
“What we wanted is the right to fish in Trinidad and Tobago when we wanted to,” he concluded. (EJ)