Two facilities used by fisherfolk to land their catches are earmarked for expansion and development as they can no longer adequately accommodate the increase in vessels seeking safe harbour.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Samantha Marshall made the disclosure on Monday as she toured the Urlings fisheries complex with Japan’s ambassador to Antigua and Barbuda, Matsubara Yutaka.
The complex, a gift from the government and people of Japan to Antigua and Barbuda, opened in 2004. It was originally designed to accommodate a maximum of fourteen small boats, which were the most widely used vessels at the time.
Almost two decades on, however, the vessels have become larger as fishermen travel further out to sea in search of pelagic species of fish.
According to fisheries officer, Hilroy Simon, the facilities have become too small to accommodate the vessels based there.
He explained that smaller vessels are left with no option now but to moor up to as many as three abreast due to the lack of space which makes landing their catches more difficult.
To address the issue, Minister Marshall said the government has made a request to the Japanese government for additional assistance to expand the fisheries complex.
“We have approached the Japanese already and put forward our plans for expansion.
“Even during our recent meeting of OECS fisheries ministers here in Antigua, I raised the matter with the Japanese vice minister, Mr. Akimoto, about the expansion of this area, as well as some other areas.
“One of those areas is the Keeling Point Facility on the southern side of the St. John’s Harbour,” she disclosed.
She described the Keeling Point dock as a natural addition to the Point Wharf Fisheries Complex.
The cost for the Urlings Complex’s expansion and the development of the Keeling Point facilities has not yet been determined.
During his visit to Antigua and Barbdua, Ambassador Yutaka also toured the Point Fisheries Complex and the Ffryes Bay Reverse Osmosis Plant.
While at the Ffryes RO plant, he was given a tour of the facility by APUA’s Water Manager, Ian Lewis.
On his visit, Ambassador Yutaka sampled the water produced at the Ffryes RO directly from the tap and congratulated APUA on the quality of the water it produces.
The Ffryes RO, whose recent upgrade was supported by the Japanese government, produces as much as 350-imperial gallons of water daily.
This plant primarily serves communities in the southern quadrant of Antigua.