NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (June 06, 2013) – Minister of Agriculture in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Hon. Alexis Jeffers reminded the participants of a Fisheries Co-Management Workshop held on Nevis from June 4 through 6, 2013 that they had a role to play in ensuring the overall sustainability of the fishing industry.
The Agriculture Minister was at the time speaking at the opening ceremony of the three-day workshop which was held at the Red Cross Building and was jointly sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing, Fisheries and Cooperatives in the NIA.
“I am told that this workshop will run for just about three days and will involve fishers and other stakeholders in the fisheries industry not only here on Nevis but also St. Kitts.
“It is my understanding that this workshop is geared towards the strengthening of fisher organizations and improving the operations of fisheries complexes, thereby enabling them to apply a more business approach to their operations. With this accomplished, the needs of consumers will be better satisfied in terms of fish safety and quality. These safety standards are certainly in line with international standards and best-practice agreements that, I do hope, will be the overall objective of this workshop,” Jeffers said.
Jeffers—who noted that the workshop was important for numerous reasons—said the participants’ attendance was an important indicator of their interest in the fisheries sector and he hoped that their expectations would be met.
“First and foremost, [the workshop] will provide the training opportunities for our local fishermen and fisherwomen and introduce them to new concepts and ideas. I am heartened that a number of our fishers are indeed interested in acquiring a firsthand knowledge of these concepts and ideas. As fishermen and of course fisherwomen, as well, I am happy that you are aware that even the trade of fishing is dynamic and there is always something new to learn,” Jeffers said.
“Secondly, this workshop is important because it is seeking to strengthen fishers’ organisations and we are all aware of the challenging period that such organisations are experiencing at present.”
Making reference to a recent consultation for fishers put on by the Ministry of Agriculture as part of its first Agriculture Awareness Month, held during the month of May here on Nevis, Jeffers said he was confident that by the end of this workshop, there would be a turn-around in the fortunes of the Nevis Fishermen’s Co-operative and he was equally hopeful this training would realise a renewed vigor and enthusiasm to move the cooperative forward.
“The recent consultation that we had brought to light the stark reality that our fishermen on the island are divided and that the umbrella organisation that should be working assiduously on their behalf, does not have the support of the majority of fishermen on the island,” Jeffers said.
“We here on Nevis have also seen the challenging times that the fisheries complex is experiencing. However, the co-management issues that will be examined during this workshop should provide those in charge of the complex, here on Nevis, with the confidence and requisite skills required to move our fishing complex forward,” he said.
According to Minister Jeffers, the workshop was also important because it brought into focus the issue of fish safety and quality, an issue to which fishers should be paying a lot more attention so that the consumers could be more satisfied with the product that is being provided.
He said he believed the workshop was timely and he must commend the organisers on their foresight.
“We are grateful for the support of the Food and Agriculture Organisation. We are grateful for the support that they have provided in executing this training exercise. We trust that our fisheries sector here on the island of Nevis, and indeed St. Kitts, will continue to receive the support from this and other regional and international organizations.” Jeffers said.
He encouraged the participants to be open and to learn as much as possible and also used the opportunity to recommit the support of the Ministry of Agriculture to the island’s fishermen and to the overall development of the fisheries sector.
“We all have our part to play in ensuring that we rescue this particular industry which is indeed important to the very survival of not only this generation but for future generations.
I do ask you to grasp every opportunity that will be provided during this workshop to enhance your trade, to become more familiar with what is surrounding us in the fishing industry and to ensure that moving forward we have a much stronger and a much more vibrant fishing industry.”