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Arnos Vale man secures Fisherman of the Year title

Arnos Vale man secures Fisherman of the Year title

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Arnos Vale resident Andy McMillan is this year’s Fisherman of the Year, winning with a haul of 710 lbs.

The 35-year-old fisherman told SEARCHLIGHT on Monday at the Calliaqua Playing Field that he is proud of himself.{{more}}

“I make a change, because I used to be in Bottom Town (Rose Place, Kingstown) fishing for years, and since I come [to] Calliaqua, it come like is a blessing. So, I give thanks and praise still,” an elated McMillan said.

He stated that he has been fishing for 15 years and knew that this year was going to be his.

“I…tell my sailors…, I going to win the engine this year, because I get confidence in meself…. This morning when we leave about 4 o clock, I tell dem man this engine is yours, so don’t stress over anything, because I get the feeling about it.”

Speaking at the activity’s closing ceremony, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Saboto Caesar stated that he is extremely proud of this year’s activities.

With a total haul by fishermen of 7,507 lbs compared to last year’s 3,257 lbs, Caesar questioned if there is maximum usage of the seascape.

“Over the years, we are experiencing growth, but there are still many things left for us to do, because exponential growth could be a reality, if all of us come together and put our creative minds at work,” he said.

The minister called for development of the fisheries sector and called for private sector involvement in the industry.

“Why do we have to wait until Fisherman’s Day alone to have an activity of this size and this importance? It is prime time for the private sector to partner with the Government and spread this idea throughout the length and breadth of this country.”

Using Barbados as an example, the minister called for there to be regular fish nights.

“When you have a captive market, many nights per week… young persons can come out…and be entertained; then when we have more tourists coming to St Vincent and the Grenadines when we open the Argyle International Airport, no one can say that we do not have night life,” Caesar stated.

The minister, however, said that development begins with small ideas and encouraged the chief fisheries officer (CFO) and the Permanent Secretary to work with young persons to create and develop a way forward.

The minister also encouraged persons to get involved in the fisheries sector and pointed out that there are many ways to be involved in the industry.

“With more and more persons coming back from universities qualified, there is a significant investment opportunity in the fisheries sector. And I want to encourage you.”

“You don’t have to go out on the boat to be involved in the sector; you can be involved in the sector from the standpoint of an investor,” he added.

The minister also sent a stern warning to poachers and persons who continue to destroy turtles.

“There is a time for everything under the sun and when the turtles come to lay their eggs, I am asking you to leave the turtles alone,” Caesar firmly said.

“Whilst we work to be more productive and to increase production, we also have to preserve.”

Also speaking at Sunday’s festivities, chief fisheries officer Jennifer Cruickshank-Howard pointed out that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is any fishing which undermines or disregards national or international fisheries conservation and management arrangements and measures.

“The protection of a nation’s livelihood is of paramount importance to all of us and the Government has been demonstrating this throughout the years, by providing the fisheries sector with the tools and support to improve the standard of living of the fisherfolk and their families.”

She noted that fish and seafood provide important and vital nutrients and minerals to keep the body healthy.

Howard added that this year, there was a 10 per cent increase in fish landing over last year’s catch.

“The fishing industry is a productive sector and we need to work harder to produce more.”

She noted that two mega fishing aggregating devices had been deployed in the water: a fishing tool to assist in the harvesting of the fish and two refrigerative trucks to transport these fish in proper hygienic conditions were also obtained.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Raymond Ryan noted that one of the major impacts of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing on developing countries is the direct loss of the value of catches that could be taken by local fisherman.

He said that the global economy loses between $10 billion and $23 billion annually from illegal fishing. This then causes losses to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Government revenue from landing fees, licensing and taxes payable by legal operators.

“It is therefore of paramount importance that fishers provide information on their catches and respect the law,” Ryan stated.

“The Ministry is therefore working assiduously to illuminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.”

He noted that impacts of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing could have significant effects on food security and employment within the fisheries sector.

“Additionally boats and fisheries infrastructure are particularly vulnerable, given that they are, by necessity, located in closer coastal areas close to the seashore,” Ryan indicated.

He noted that fishermen and stakeholders need to familiarize themselves with the laws and respect them.

“No harvesting of turtle eggs…no harvesting of turtles out of season, no harvesting of lobsters out of season or removal of lobster eggs, no harvesting of undersized lobsters…”

Ryan noted that in order to respond to the changes in the climate, it is important to boost the capacity and resilience of both communities and the eco-systems.

“It is recognized that fishers depend heavily on ecosystem services and measures are taken to increase the health of these ecosystems by reducing other stressors, such as over-exploitation and pollution.”

Fisherman’s Day was held under the theme: “Illegal fishing and climate change are threats to livelihoods and food security, but against all odds, we will prevail” and under the slogan: “Respect the law, report the catch, protect your livelihood.”

The delegates for Miss SVG 2016 made an appearance, as well as delegates in Miss East St George Carnival 2016. (CM)

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