Fish plant could open up overseas market
A proposed fish processing plant could help open up an international market, a veteran fisherman said yesterday.
Alan Card added that the $1.07 million East End project designed to give Bermuda’s fishing industry a boost and help fishermen sell their product in the domestic market could be used for an overseas push.
Mr Card said that research was carried out to examine if catches could be sold overseas through the factory, although the idea was at an early stage.
He added: “What they’re doing is trying to boost productivity of the commercial fishing industry here itself and one of the things they’ve looked at is the possibility of exports, because there is a demand for some of the fish that we do catch around here.
“They’re thinking that maybe it’ll be operated as a co-op-type thing, but who knows?”
He added: “Will it work? We do not know – it might and we’re hoping, but it’s still premature to even think about going that route.
“We’ve got to get a lot of stuff sorted out, there’s a lot of discussions going on and they’re in the process of doing that as we speak.”
Mr Card was speaking after David Burt, the Premier, told the House of Assembly last Friday that the Ministry of the Cabinet Office would start work on the fish processing plant this year.
The shoreside plant, planned for Marginal Wharf in St David’s, could also be supported by a “drop-off” centre in the West End.
Mr Card said that he and members of the Fishermen’s Association of Bermuda had been involved in discussions about the plant.
He added the centre would need refrigeration and ice-making capabilities, as well as a fuel depot and the ability to import fishing gear.
Mr Card said that nearby food stores could also have access to fresh fish for sale.
He added: “I think there’s a lot of positives involved – it could be a major boost for the industry itself and some of the people who are having problems marketing fish, for whatever reason.”
Mr Card emphasised that the project was still in its early stages and that nothing was guaranteed.
He added that he did not expect the project to be completed in 2021 and that major work, such as breaking ground for construction, might not start until later this year “if we’re lucky”.
Mr Card said: “I honestly don’t think it’s going to happen in the next two or three months – everything right now is still in the planning stage.
“It’s not something that’s going to transpire overnight – it’s going to take a while to sort out.”
He added: “A lot depends on how far they want to take this thing.
“Is it just going to be a refrigeration and storage facility for the fishermen? Is it going to be a major processing plant? We don’t know.
“If they decide to build, it’s not something they’ll want to do on the short-term, it’s going to be a long-term investment.”
Mr Card said that co-operation with fishermen would be crucial and that he was aware a business plan was in the early stages of development.