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JIS News

Fishers at the Lyssons fishing beach in St. Thomas are the beneficiaries of fishing gear valued at more than $3 million from the St. Catherine-based charity organization, Food for the Poor.
The equipment which includes boats, engines, a newly constructed gear shed and an assortment of accessories were handed over in a brief ceremony on Friday (May 30) at the Lyssons fishing beach in Port Morant, St. Thomas.
Director of Projects at Food for the Poor, Beth Carroll told JIS News that the project aims to offer fishers an opportunity to earn a sustainable living. The problem with the fishing industry, she said, is a lack of proper gear, equipment, and training. “So our programme is actually designed to try and equip fishermen who might be involved in destructive practices and get them the right equipment to go out to the far seas and do deep sea fishing, which is more sustainable,” she said.
Miss Carroll points out that 18 other fishing villages have been established over the last five years and that Food for the Poor had a close working relationship with Government departments such as the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, the various Parish Councils and the National Environment and Agency (NEPA). “We only work on licensed fishing beaches and licensed fishermen do try to encourage co-operatives,” she said.
She also pointed out that the assistance given to the fishers is heavily monitored, requiring that beneficiaries sign a contract, which mandates them giving back a portion of the profits they make from their fishing expeditions on a monthly basis. “If the fishermen do not meet their end of the contract we will take the boat away. Fishing is not an easy job. We’ve had boats stolen, we’ve had engines stolen, we’ve had people threatened at sea, it’s a very dangerous job,” she noted.
Local support has also come in the form of land grants and technical support from local representatives of overseas manufacturers of boat engines as well as the Maritime Training Institute, which offers a one-week training course for sea-farers at only the cost of accommodations. “The fishermen are very proud of their certificates. They learn basic safety and basic boatmanship, and so a lot of them who never got to finish school feel it’s a huge accomplishment, so it’s been a very good partnership,” she added.
“What we’re looking at is trying to do more with the boats that we have instead of putting more boats out there and getting the boats out there to get more fish and the right kinds of fish, finding the markets for that and teach them to manage their finances,” Miss Carroll noted.
The acquisition of the boats, equipment and accessories was made possible through the assistance of Quadriga Art Incorporated, a United States-based affiliate of Food for the Poor.