The Government of the Virgin Islands is steadily moving forward to make fishing a third economic pillar and sustainable sector in the Territory with the launch of the Fisheries Advisory Committee.
At the launch ceremony on Wednesday, October 5, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering revealed the names of the eight persons who were appointed to carry out the functions of the Committee as required under section 4(1) of the Fisheries Act, 1997.
The Minister said, “The establishment of the Fisheries Advisory Committee will assist us in transforming our industry through an invigorated partnership between the fishing community, the private and scientific sectors.”
The Committee members will serve for a period of two years as required in section 7(1) of the Act with effect from September 1, 2016 until August 31, 2018. The members are:
- Mr. Ron Potter (Chairman)
- Mr. Jerome Emanual, (Representative of the Fisherman Association)
- Mr. Dean Titley, (Representative of the Fisherman Association)
- Mr. Elton Gordon, (Representative of the Fisherman Association)
- Mr. Romney Penn, (Representative of the Hotel and Commerce Association)
- Mr. Laurens Blok, (Person with a scientific background)
- Mr. Kelvin Penn, (Chief Conservation and Fisheries Officer)
- Ms. Abbi Christopher, (Secretary and Public Officer from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour)
Minister Pickering said the members will help to steer the industry dialogue and assist the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour in setting the direction for the fishing industry.
In accepting the chairmanship, Mr. Ron Potter said that the committee aimed to advise on “policy matters, relating to the development and the management of fisheries as a viable industry in the Virgin Islands; to advise the Minister on the management and development plan for fisheries; to advise on guidelines and the setting-up of fish profiting establishments.”
He added that the committee would advise on any proposal or access agreement, joint venture or investments in fisheries and development projects. It would also advise on the coordination of activities of the fishing industry and the establishment, with the view to ensuring better administration of the fisheries sector. In addition, the committee would advise on any initiative for the regional harmonisation of fisheries, including licences for foreign vessels, and matters of conservation for living marine resources.
Mr. Potter stated further that there are significant opportunities for expanding the industry and he encouraged the fishermen to get organised by establishing associations.
The Fisheries Act, 1997 was enacted to promote, manage and conserve the fisheries, fisheries resources and associated matters of the Virgin Islands. Subsequently the Fisheries Regulations, 2003 were made to operationalise and implement the provisions of the Fisheries Act, 1997. The Fisheries Act also encourages the formation of Fishermen’s Associations from whence nominations are to be received for the membership of the Fisheries Advisory Committee.
The objective of the Government of the Virgin Islands is to revive and build the fishing industry as a third economic pillar for increased economic sustainability. Work in this regard started with the upgrade of the BVI Fishing Complex in 2012, providing an increase of fresh fish for local consumption.