Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 16, 2017 (SKNIS): Fisher folk are set to benefit from a 4-day Basic Fisher Training Course (BFTC), the first of which is being held at the Dieppe Bay Cooperative Center by the Department of Marine Resources.
At the end of the course, a certificate of attendance will be issued to all participants who successfully complete the training and they will receive a fisher license as part of the Department's efforts to re-register fishermen operating in St. Kitts.
The course began on August 14, and is designed for new entrants to the fisheries sector, as well as existing fishers who have never completed any basic fisher training. The BFTC is designed to develop the necessary competencies and skills in fishers, and also to equip them with a basic understanding of the adverse effects of unsustainable fishing practices and climate change in order to ensure the longevity of the fishing industry to support their livelihoods.
Marc Williams, Director of Marine Resources, said that the BFTC is something that can be used not only in St. Kitts and Nevis, but any country within the OECS. "We're working on harmonizing it so that [when] you leave St. Kitts and Nevis with a basic training certificate and say you move to Dominica or St. Lucia, Grenada, you can walk with this certificate and go to the Department of Fisheries or Marines Resources, whatever the case may be, and show it and you don't have to go back through the same training," Mr. Williams said.
However, he noted that the basic fisher training course is not based on fishing practices only, but also looks at the business aspect of fishing. "You make your money, [but] how do you invest your money? Do you invest in your own health; do you invest in stocks or real estate so that you could have something earning income for you even after you stop fishing? This is something that we are here to assist you with, along with the safety at sea," he said.
Other sessions will cover health and food safety in the fisheries sector; marine radio communication; dive safety; the benefits of social security; sustainable use of fisheries resources; fisheries regulations; cooperative development and benefits; and search and rescue. Facilitators are being drawn from the St. Kitts and Nevis Coast Guard, the Department of Cooperatives, the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Health Department, the St. Kitts and Nevis Social Security Board and the Department of Environment.
Mr. Williams used the opportunity to share plans about a new system to monitor fisher folk at sea. He explained that hopefully by January his department would be implementing a vessel monitoring system so that if a vessel is having trouble at sea and its radio is down the Department of Marine Resources would be able to pick up the problems so that the coast guard can respond in real time. The new system will allow the Department of Marine Resources to detect signs that a vessel might be in distress, for example, if a fishing boat is traveling less than five miles per hour or if it is drifting in another jurisdiction.
The training course will be repeated at the following locations and dates: Sandy Point Community Center, August 21-24; Old Road Fisheries Complex, August 28-31 and Newtown Community Center, September 04-07.