Co-operative fishery nets $1.5m in Budget

  • Doubts about business model: fisherman John Barnes (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Doubts about business model: fisherman John Barnes (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A co-operative fishery was pledged $1.5 million towards its setting up costs.

The cash — spread over two years — will be used to create a fishing industry base at Southside, St David’s.

The project, to be managed by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, was part of finance minister Curtis Dickinson’s “largest capital spending plan in a decade”.

John Barnes, a former director for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and a fisherman, said he saw “nothing wrong” with the proposal.

However, he added: “This is nothing new, either.”

Mr Barnes said the Government had ran the Sargassum Project Fisheries Centre on the former United States base at Morgan’s Point between 1979 and 1991.

Mr Barnes added: “It worked well for a while. There was a freezer room and they made shaved ice — the best thing that came out of it was the use of ice, which improved the quality of the fish a lot.”

The business folded after the Government ended funding.

Mr Barnes said he doubted a co-operative model, where staff share ownership and the profits, could work in the fishing industry.

He added: “Fishing is very much every man for himself — everyone’s watching what the other one is doing.

“Fishermen don’t co-operate in that sense. A lot of people have tried.”

He said Southside might also have a problem attracting fishermen from other parts of the island.

He added: “The Sargasso Project at the West End was something you could get to relatively easy. But you would still not see people from St George’s up there.”

Mr Barnes said the Government had promoted longline fishing for high-value catches such as bluefin tuna to boost the industry, but “there are still only one or two people doing it”.

A proposal for a commercial fishing base at Southside was made in 2009 under what was then the Department of Environmental Protection, at Ship’s Wharf, also known as Marginal Wharf, but it never materialised.

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Published Feb 22, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 22, 2020 at 7:00 am)

Co-operative fishery nets $1.5m in Budget

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