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The livelihood of fisher-folks at rural communities stands to receive a much-needed boost.
This comes in the wake of an agreement between the Japan and St. Lucia governments.
Officials from both parties met on Tuesday morning to sign the minutes of discussion on the preparatory survey for a project entitled “Improvement of Fishery Equipment and Machinery in Saint Lucia”.
The project is considered very timely to facilitate the work of the Fisheries Department.
Advisor at Division of Rural Development Department for the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Takashi Nishimura explained that under the project, the Japanese government would donate machinery for the management of fisheries facilities. It would also cover repairing of related machinery already provided by the Japanese.
The signing follows a visit by a Japanese delegation, which conducted a survey on the availability of fisheries equipment and machinery on island. The project is likely to be implemented in May of this year.
Speaking at the ceremony, minister responsible for Agriculture, Food Production, Fisheries and Rural Development, Moses Jn Baptiste said his government is committed to improving the marketing and distribution of local fish and fish products.
“However, such efforts need to be complemented and supported by improvement in equipment and machinery to ensure efficiency of the processes involved,” he noted.
Japan and St. Lucia have shared diplomatic relations for 20 years through JICA. This has seen the execution of many fisheries development projects in the country.
“It is indeed comforting to know that the Japanese government remains committed to the development of fisheries and fisher-folks, thereby improving their livelihoods and the social and economical wellbeing of valuable groups, particularly in rural communities in Saint Lucia… This project is a great initiative for the fishermen of St. Lucia, especially in the rural communities as farmers have diversify into the fisheries sector, Jn. Baptiste stated.
Communities to be considered to benefit from the project include Vieux Fort, Dennery, Castries, Anse La Raye, Soufriere and Choiseul.
They will benefit from replacement of old refrigeration systems, installation of solar panel and ice-making machines, supply of fisheries research vessels and motor vehicles and an improved submerged type fish aggregating device (FAD) on the south and west coast of the island.