Government is entertaining talks with potential investors to help develop the local fishing sector.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Dr Natalio Wheatley gave that indication during this year’s Standing Finance Committee (SFC) proceedings back in April.
The minister did not specify with whom he had the discussions or how their potential investment would talk shape but said he had planned to have further deliberations on the matter with members of the Virgin Islands Cabinet.
Dr Wheatley had noted his talks with investors after Manager of the BVI Fishing Complex Lloyd Williams told the SFC that he wants local fishermen to learn other forms of their craft besides the basic trap-fishing technique.
According to the 2019 SFC report, Williams said learning different ways to fish would be beneficial considering what he described as the high demand for seafood in the territory.
The fishing complex manager’s statement led to the question of whether the territory’s ban on spearfishing could be revisited.
In asking the question, SFC member and Natural Resources Minister Vincent Wheatley noted that the ban has resulted in “loss of economic benefits” for the BVI over the years.
In response, Williams said the territory’s Fisheries Act provides for the portfolio minister to permit prohibited methods of fishing “for a specific period of time”.
The BVI’s fishing laws not only limits the methods for which a person can fish in the territory but also only permits commercial fishing for license holders.
These laws further mandate that only BVIslanders and Belongers can fish in the territory’s waters.
While this is the case, the Department of Conservation and Fisheries recently said they have no adequate resources to police illegal fishing in the BVI and that at-sea patrols have not happened since about 2016.
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