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Local businesses join in efforts to raise fisherfolk awareness, fight lion fish invasion

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FLOW has joined forces with the National Fisherfolk Organization (NFO) and the Nature Conservancy’s Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network (ECMMAN) project.

The collaboration comes in an attempt to bring attention to the nation’s fisherfolk, relaunch fish fest activities, as well as fight the invasive lion fish, which is threatening our reefs.{{more}}

On Wednesday, October 26, one day before this country’s 37th anniversary of Independence, FLOW and the NFO, with support from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariat and the ECMMAN project, relaunched the local fish fest activities.

The relaunch was held on FLOW’s Halifax Street promenade, where persons were given free samples of lion fish.

Coordinator of the ECMMAN project (being implemented locally by National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority) Tasheka Haynes explained that the project has different components and under the OECS component, 23 fisherfolk were given Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) certification and given scuba equipment and equipment to start back fish fest activities. She said that these activities, which have the capacity to bring income to communities, have dwindled.

“…the scuba equipment enables the fisherfolk to hunt lion fish as supplementary or alternative livelihood. The fish fries have dwindled, so we are trying to resurrect that,” said Haynes who revealed that the fisherfolk have been given tents, chairs and deep fryers, everything they need to restart the fish fry activities.

Haynes said that they partnered with FLOW to relaunch the initiative, starting in Kingstown and are hoping to move to various communities, in line with FLOW’s mandate.

Haynes noted that fish fests will bring livelihood to fishermen, as well as to persons in the wider communities, as persons will come out to do vending. Haynes is also hoping that the fish fests create unity in the communities.

“We are also trying to get people to eat the lion fish, so we can control it, because it has no known predator,” said Haynes.

According to Haynes, another part of the ECMMAN project provides a small grant, which is being managed by Sustainable Grenadines (SusGren). In that component, the Tobago Cays Marine Park is being developed and it is hoped that toilet facilities will be put there.

The SusGren managed grant is currently giving enforcement training to rangers, while an enforcement manual is being put together for new rangers. The project is also doing south course (from Indian Bay to Blue Lagoon) water quality monitoring and beach profiling.

Also present at the October 26 event was director of National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority Andrew Wilson.

Wilson said that he is hoping that the FLOW fish fest will move and migrate to other communities and that the NFO, when conducting the events, can offer a variety of dishes and therefore link fisheries with agriculture.

Commending FLOW, Coreas Hazells and Paradise Beach Hotel for helping bring the fish fest alive, Wilson said that he is glad that persons are seeing the need to link the private sector, the public sector and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

He said that the lion fish, which was offered free of cost at the event, was a good way of bringing awareness about the creature, which is an invasive species.

Vice-president of the NFO Winsbert Harry described the fish fest as an “historic day,” while thanking FLOW for joining hands with the NFO.

“Coming on board has helped us a lot. We are promoting the eating of lion fish, so that we can protect the reef in SVG”, said Harry, who added that they will be having fish festivals in other places, including Barrouallie, Calliaqua and Little Tokyo in Kingstown where they will continue to promote the eating of lion fish.

During the October 26 fish fest event, a wide cross-section of persons were treated to free lion fish and free entertainment by, among others, Rondy ‘Luta’ McIntosh, Delroy ‘Fireman’ Hooper, Gamal ‘Skinny Fabulous’ Doyle and Shane ‘Hypa 4000’ Husbands.

The event was also attended by, among others, Josette Edwards of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariat.

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