Rainforest Seafoods to set up EC$10 million seafood facility in SVG
THE CONTRACT signed between Rainforest Seafoods and the Government will see the company investing EC$10 million in a facility at Calliaqua that will pump EC$20 million into the local economy on a yearly basis.
“The most important clause in the contract…is the one that says Rainforest Seafoods is going to endeavour to purchase from local fisherfolk EC$20 million worth of lobster and fish annually,” Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves told persons at the VIP lounge of the Argyle International Airport (AIA) Wednesday.
The Finance Minister, along with Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves were at the AIA to meet with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rainforest Seafoods Brian Jardim and his team to sign a contract for the establishment of a seafood facility here.
“An EC$20 million injection into the fisheries sector of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is very very significant. It’s transformative and there is no way to gainsay that.
“If Rainforest Seafoods can ramp up to those sorts of numbers and I am glad that it is recorded in the contract, it would have an absolutely transformative effect on the fisheries sector in St Vincent and the Grenadines and you will see it and feel it in the livelihoods of fisherfolk,” said the finance minister.
He added that he is excited about the investment and said that we are on the verge of opening a modern sophisticated fisheries centre at Calliaqua (next to the Coast Guard base) that will employ quite a few Vincentians, not only fisherfolk.
Gonsalves said Rainforest Seafoods has plants in their home country Jamaica, Belize, Barbados, the Bahamas and St. Lucia and they are intent on sustainable fishing and livelihoods.
“Fishing is an expanding sector in St Vincent and the Grenadines. In my budget address a few months ago, the data I had said fish landings were up 45 per cent year over year and the value of the fish were close to 60 per cent year over year and the constraint that we currently have is the capacity of our fisherfolk to meet the increase in demand,” said the Finance Minister.
He added that the constraint is not the unavailability of fish and now with Rainforest Seafoods, the constraint will not be demand but the constraint will be how well the fisherfolk are equipped to meet this growing demand.
“So we announced in the last budget anticipating this demand, that Minister Caesar will make special provisions that over the coming 18 months while the plant is being constructed to improve the capacity of fisherfolk and their ability to meet this growing demand,” revealed Gonsalves while adding that there is a lot of lobster in the sea as we are a small island state but a large ocean state.
“We have abundant riches in our waters, and we have to get more fisherman and fisher woman with boats, engines, lobster pots, to get out there and sustainably harvest some of these riches,” stated Gonsalves.
He noted that Rainforest Seafoods exports live lobster from Jamaica to China and they are hoping to do the same thing here, something that could not have been done without the AIA.
“Rainforest Seafoods is going to transform Calliaqua. It’s going to transform the fisheries sector and it is going to transform the lives of scores, if not more of the fisherfolk in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” said Gonsalves, who is also parliamentary representative for East St George, which includes Calliaqua.
Gonsalves said the facility will be built as quickly as possible. A team from the company is currently meeting with local contractors.