Fisherman’s Day – Reflections
The 2019 Fisherman’s Day activities (isn’t it time to adopt the more inclusive Fisherfolks’ Day to reflect the involvement of women in the fishing industry?) had to cope with two distractions: the national euphoria over SVG’s historic election to the Security Council of the United Nations, and a rival event at Calliaqua, the traditional host-community of the event.
In addition, because Fisherfolks Day coincides with the old Whit Monday holiday, the date varies from year to year according to the religious calendar governing such dates. Some years it may fall in May and in others, this year for instance, it came as late as June. This can affect the catch depending on the time of year, some years bringing different rewards than others. Perhaps organisers may have to consider some flexibility in dates in order to take maximum advantage of the potential.
As for the distractions, the celebration over the UN achievement was not a negative factor in itself, and in fact, may even have brought more persons out to the traditional closing ceremony. One noted success long advocated by some, was that the incentive offered in reducing fish prices for the occasion resulted in a complete sell-out, according to organisers. However it is true that the UN celebrations may have somewhat diluted the focus, though everything worked out well in the end.
The UN vote also helped to focus attention to the wider marine issues, especially with the United Nations now emphasizing the importance of what is called the ‘Blue Economy’ and recognizing the rich potential of our marine environment. Indeed it enabled speakers, including Prime Minister Gonsalves, to explain that our sovereignty extends far beyond the 150 square miles of land that we were traditionally taught. Today, we speak of “seascape” as well, a rich marine environment many times that size.
This calls for a new look at not just our natural resources but also how best we can utilize it in our quest for development, progress and prosperity. More attention, in both formal and informal senses, must now be paid to developing our human resources through education, training and the provision of appropriate resources, to allow us to maximize the potential benefits to our country and people. However we must also be mindful of our sacred responsibility for proper stewardship in taking care to preserve our marine environment.
In the case of the minor division over the changing of the venue from Calliaqua to Kingstown, we must be careful not to allow such differences to distract us from larger goals.
There must be room to accommodate both the national activity and any community-based efforts, whether in Calliaqua, Clare valley, Bequia or any other fishing community. Indeed that approach should be encouraged leading up to the national climax and avoiding any rival activities. Complementarity, not rivalry, should be the aim, unity, not division, the goal.
It is said that “it is an ill wind which blows nobody good” and this can serve to refocus attention, both on Fisherfolks’ Day activities themselves including providing adequate facilities, but also on the vital marine industry itself. We talk a lot about it on such occasions but a vital component of that development, marine education, is not adequately reflected in our education system, nor indeed in our dietary choices. It is time to address these.