Fifth District Representative, Kye Rymer said he hopes the new Food Security and Sustainability bill makes provision for overfishing in the Virgin Islands, especially as it relates to international fishers operating in the territory’s waters.
While making his contribution to the House of Assembly’s debate on the bill yesterday, Rymer said fishermen in the territory have been expressing concerns regarding international fishers in the territory’s water.
“I know right now we have our fisherman, and they go out there and make their catch, especially those long lines. Remember, there was a time when fishermen from other jurisdictions would come into our waters and catch our fish and usually as a territory we like to go overseas and go various places to buy certain things and we would make the trip and go elsewhere and still purchase the fish that was caught in our waters,” Rymer said.
“I know I have been in conversation with some fishermen, and they say those who frequent our waters maybe a hundred miles out. The Japanese trawlers, persons from China and all those places and the fishermen are a bit concerned because their catch is a bit reduced,” the Minister of Works added.
He said he hopes with this bill there will be better monitoring of the territorial waters to prevent overfishing from international persons which may result in under-fishing from local fishermen.
“Although it is ways out, it is important to maintain what we have and not overfish within our waters. That is a task the ministry should ensure is observed so that when our fishermen get those trawlers and big boats and they go out and they do those fishing out there, they would be able to bring back a healthy catch so we would be able to sustain ourselves, our restaurants and hotels and so forth. That is very important,” Rymer said.
Under the Food Security and Sustainability Act, the Agricultural Department is expected to become a statutory body. The act is expected to provide for the effective management and sustainable development of fisheries in the territory in accordance with international conventions and treaties to which the territory is a signatory.
It should also provide for the recognition of international norms, standards and best practices including the code of conduct for responsible fisheries.
The Bill was introduced to the House of Assembly yesterday by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr Natalio Wheatley. Dr Wheatley had noted that once the bill is passed by the House, it is going to revolutionise the agricultural and fisheries sector in the Virgin Islands