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Owia village lands first class fisheries centre

Owia village lands first class fisheries centre

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The energy that emanated from Owia last Tuesday, April 14, was palpable.

Scores of people converged on the small fishing village for the opening of the EC$33 million Owia Fisheries Centre.{{more}}

As happy fishermen did a brisk trade selling their catch at a reduced price in the brand new, modern facility, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves hailed the Japan-funded centre as part of his government’s vision for the future of this country.

Gonsalves told the enthusiastic audience that the facility, which was funded by the Japanese government, is one aspect of the development of “a modern, competitive, many-sided, post-colonial economy, which is at once local, national, regional and global.”

The Prime Minister explained that as the government pushes the education revolution and strengthens the tourism sector in rural communities like Owia, traditional industries like fishing and farming must also be strengthened to ensure their survival.

He noted the road developments ($40 million), and work being done to develop the Owia Salt Pond ($1.3 million) as other examples of the government’s commitment to the development of the communities over the Dry River.

“What we do here is to use the base of the fishing industry and build a modern facility to enhance the capacity of the people to fish more and to fish cheaper…,” Gonsalves said.

Owia lands the second highest quantity of fish in the country, after Kingstown, at around 2,260 pounds per day.

The Owia Fisheries Centre is the seventh and the most advanced rural fish landing facility constructed by the Japanese government here. The others are located at Chateaubelair, Barrouallie, Calliaqua, Bequia, Canouan and Union Island.

This is in addition to the main centre in Kingstown.

Among the features of the impressive facility is a jetty and breakwater, slipway, fishermen’s lockers, office quarters, ice making machine, cold and chill storage facilities and a fuel station.

Construction of the facility began in May of 2007, and was completed last month. The complex was built by the Japanese construction company, TOA.

The Japanese Ambassador to the Caribbean, Tatsuaki Iwata said the fishing industry will be bright in this country if proper policies are implemented.

Japan has often been accused of trying to “buy” small developing countries like St Vincent and the Grenadines by pouring millions into fisheries development in exchange for a pro-whaling vote at the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

When it was his turn to address the people, parliamentary representative for the North Windward constituency, Montgomery Daniel said that communities like Owia and nearby villages had been neglected and disregarded for years by politicians.

Daniel said that these communities are now feeling the presence of a government which seriously wants to help and bring economic development to them.

He said that starting with the naming of Chief Joseph Chatoyer as the country’s first national hero in 2002, the government has continually given tremendous recognition to the Garifuna people.

Daniel used the occasion to declare that he will be seeking a third term in Parliament in the next general elections.

To loud cheers he declared: “If it is the will of God and with the support of the constituency of North Windward, I will contest the next general elections.”

But the loudest cheers were reserved for seven-year-old Jewel Cordice of the Sandy Bay Primary School.

It isn’t often that a guest performance, intended to be a filler to break the monotony of the host of speeches, grabs the attention of all at the opening of a $33 million project-but this was the exception.

Cordice’s rendition of “You raised me up” was just top class!