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Fishermen to get help with long line boats

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Fishermen who are unable to guarantee all of the $750,000 needed to purchase the long-line fishing vessels, that they have been encouraged to invest in, will get a helping hand by government.{{more}}

On Monday, February 9, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced that government would be willing to guarantee, in part, some of these special loans to enable fishermen to get the much-touted vessels.

The purchase of the vessels is part of an increased fishing productivity initiative that was launched by government in an attempt to significantly improve on the $8 million annual contribution of the fishing sector to the local economy.

Government had announced that a revolving fund of $6 million has been available to facilitate the affordable access of financing to the local fishermen. Some 25 fishermen have already gone through training in the operation of these larger, 43-feet vessels, which are said to be able to carry up to 10,000 pounds of fish, and carry a crew of six for up to seven days at sea.

However, at the press conference, Dr Gonsalves said that the vessel could cost up to $750,000, and some of the fishermen who are interested in them may not be able to meet all the guaranteeing requirements.

So in the interest of productivity in the sector, government is willing to take the “risk” and guarantee part of the loans.

“What I am interested in is to catch more fish; to catch the quantities both for ourselves here to eat and to export,” the Prime Minister said, as he also announced the formation of a Task Force on Fisheries Investments, headed by Chairman of National Investments Promotions Incorporated, and Budget Director, Edmond Jackson.

Late last year, Chief Fisheries Officer Raymond Ryan told SEARCHLIGHT that the addition of those long-line vessels to the local fishing industry could see the annual catch skyrocket to 3.5 million pounds and $24 million added annually to the economy in a year and a half’s time.

Meanwhile, Dr Gonsalves also used the opportunity to voice his concern about the price of fish in St Vincent and Grenadines, as fuel prices have been gradually decreasing.

“Why are the fish prices not going down?” Dr Gonsalves wanted to know, and said he was considering putting price control on it if the problem isn’t rectified.

“In Grenada Jacks and Robin are $2 per pound, cheaper than us… and Grenada prices are higher than us,” the Prime Minister said.

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