(GIS) – The Government of Japan, through the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) has come to the aid of the fishers of Choiseul, to help remedy challenges experienced at the fishing port.
Since the construction of the Choiseul Fishing Port close to 20 years ago by the Japanese Government, fishers of the community have had difficulty getting their fishing vessels into the port, due to the build-up of silt in the area.
JICA has again seen it fit to assist the fishers of Choiseul in finding a solution to the persistent problem and recently made a presentation to fishers as well as the Choiseul Fishermen’s Co-operative Society.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Co-operatives Hon. Ezechiel Joseph was present at the meeting and highlighted the importance of the fishing port to the community.
“As a government, as a cooperative, as well as former and present parliamentary representatives, we have tried many solutions but they are not working. When you look out there you see the negative impacts of what is happening in Choiseul. We have engaged the government of Japan through JICA and we are happy that they have reconsidered their position not to give support in solving the problems we are faced with in Choiseul.”
The minister responsible for the Fisheries Sector said that previous measures undertaken by the government to remedy the situation proved extremely costly, and were not sustainable. It was for this reason that the Government of Japan was re-engaged.
“A team of us went up to Japan last year with two representatives from the Choiseul Fishermen Cooperative to have a first-hand appreciation for some of the recommendations that we can adopt in Saint Lucia to solve the problem. Based on the outcome of that visit, we were all satisfied that there are indeed possibilities to remedy to the situation.”
For the Parliamentary Representative for Choiseul/Saltibus, Hon. Bradley Felix, the problem is not only a financial one but has negative impacts for the environment. Hon. Felix remains grateful for the assistance of the Japanese government at this time.
“One of the things that we must remember is the kind of assistance that we would have gotten in the past from foreign governments and other agencies are few in coming. The Japanese are now demanding that we must be accountable for the monies being spent and that it goes to good use. We are very appreciative that the government of Japan through JICA has come back on board to give us the kind of assistance that is required to take care of this outstanding problem.”
According to the Japanese officials, the proposed solutions would not see any meaningful results until the end of 2020. There will however, be short-term measures.