St. Kitts & Nevis workers turn to fishing amid tourism shutdown

Dept. of Marine Resources officials note fishing and farming are good ways for Kittians & Nevisians to earn extra income and provide for their families 

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS & NEVIS — Director of the Department of Marine Resources Dr. Marc Williams said there has been a substantial increase in the number of people turning to fishing to make a living since the COVID-19 pandemic crippled the region’s tourism industry.

In fact, Williams revealed that St. Kitts & Nevis has seen its fisheries sector grow 21 percent between January 2021 and August 2021 as compared to the previous year.

“Since the pandemic started, we have [seen] a significant increase in the number of persons who are entering the fishing industry because there is no longer tourism and when you look at the government’s social assistance program, they’re only limited to a certain extent — you cannot provide for your family, depending on the size,” he said.

“Fishing and farming are basic skills that persons here could cultivate and look forward to in order to provide additional income for themselves and their families.

“What we have been doing, we have been tracking the trend and we have been aligning the government’s stimulus package for the fisheries sector with respect to the number of participants within the industry.”

According to the director, St. Kitts & Nevis has recorded an average of 95 fishers per month so far for 2021.

Williams noted, “August this year was one of the lowest months, which is 81. However, this 81 resulted from the fact that other aspects of the economy are opening back up.

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    “So, instead of focusing solely on fishing, you see taxi operators are going back in tourism and these other areas. But the fisheries and agriculture sector is always a fallback for them so that they could supplement their income they see from these other industries.”

    Port State Control Officer Maritza Queeley added that the department would like to further develop training and capacity-building initiatives to get even more residents involved in the fishing trade.

    She said, “We have our training division…where we target our youth and general public and stakeholders, training them in fisheries jobs — not waiting until they are at a particular age to enlighten them about the job opportunities that are out there regarding marine resources.”

    The industry also needs researchers “who can go out, monitor these resources [and] make proper management decisions”, Queeley noted.

    “If we had that capacity and if we push that forward, then we will be in a better position,” she said.

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