(Basseterre, St. Kitts): St. Kitts experienced an overall increase in fish landings for the first half-year of 2021 in comparison to the same period 2020.
This was revealed by the Director of Marine Resources, Dr. Marc Williams who presented on behalf of the department during the Ministry of Agriculture’s recently held 2nd Quarter Review Meeting.
During an interview with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Media and Communication Unit, Williams explained that a 36 % increase was recorded in fish landings. He noted that from January to June 2021 fish landings were 387,150 lbs with a landed value of E.C $4,311,690, while in January to June 2020, fish landings were 284,290 lbs valued at $3,193,380 XCD.
The main catalyst of the increase in fish landings was Reef and Demersal Fishery which includes species like Snappers, Hind, Butter Fish, Doctor Fish, Coastal Pelagic Fishery which includes species like Ballyhoo, Gar and Jacks, Conch Fishery and the Lobster Fishery. Reef and Demersal Fishery increased by 37%, Coastal Pelagic Fishery increased by 10%, Conch Fishery landing increased by 30% and Lobster Fishery landings increased by 156%.
The Marine Resources Director expressed that the noteworthy increases in the Coastal Pelagic Fishery and Conch Fishery resulted from “an increase in fishing effort and renewed interest in the Marine Resource Sector”. Dr. Williams said, “most of it was due to the fish trap wire which is wire used in the capture of lobster as well as pot fish”.
There was however, a decrease of 18% in the Ocean Pelagic Fishery, which the Director noted was a result of the downturn in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
“Hopefully the economy rebounds in 2022 where you will see a greater demand for Ocean Pelagic which continue to decline no matter what resources we put in the industry. The reason for the decline is because we do not have markets for the Ocean Pelagic at this point in time. Ocean Pelagic are fish like the tuna, the marlins which are not demanded by our locals here in St. Kitts and Nevis. They are traditionally demanded by our tourists”.
He said assistance from the government’s COVID-19 stimulus package for fishers led to the most significant increases in the Reef and Demersal Fishery and the Lobster Fishery due to a reduction in the cost of fishing gear such as fish pot wire which contributed significantly to the increase in catches.