During the week of October 26th - 31st, Prime Minister Allan Chastenet, as part of his Covid-19 response for the second wave in St. Lucia, banned local fishermen from accessing local fishing ports to ply their trade and suspended their licences for one week. His rationale for doing so is to reinforce and stabilize border control as it relates to illegal backdoor entry to St. Lucia from Martinique, a country plagued by Covid-19. He attributed, with no evidence, the second wave of covid-19 in St. Lucia to illegal backdoor entry even though the CMO has cited no supporting correlation. Cases of Covid-19 during this second outbreak have been linked to at least one Hotel property to the north of the Island and has been confirmed via contract tracing and by the CMO. However, no hotel has been shutdown nor their business activities curtailed due to covid. We believe this to be discrimantory, unfair and reprehensible actions by the goverment and condemn it in the strongest possible terms!
Previously, the fisheries complex and fish marketing corporation has been shut down, and local fishermen have had a harder time plying their trade and have found no support from this government. They have not received any help or income support during the Covid-19 shutdown and now they have been banned from plying their trade. The major activities of the fish marketing corporation have been taken over by Rainforest foods. All of the fish sold by Massy Stores is now Rainforest foods, and in addition, an outlet has been opened in Castries selling fish and seafood products to the local market. This amounts to economic terrorism and needs to be addressed! Rainforest Foods has not sought to purchase and market locally caught fish, instead importing fish from Jamaica and mainly selling these seafood products to the local industry. This does not demonstrate corporate or social responsibility and is tantamount to economic terrorism. If local fishermen cannot get a seat at the table then this foreign company should not be allowed to dominate our local industry! Hold Rainforest Foods accountable! Do not purchase any Rainforest Seafood products nor patronize their outlets until government allows fishermen to ply their trade and provides the necessary support to this ailing industry.
We demand the following:
(1) As a condition of conducting business, Lucian Blue Ocean and Rainforest foods be required by government to sell and market local fish products as part of its product offering. If they are to replace the fish marketing corporation, then they MUST fulfill its functions
(2) Goverment provide the necessary support and subsidies to the registered fishermen of St. Lucia especially a gas subsidy and income support. This can be done as part of Covid-19 relief
(3) The ban on local fishermen be lifted IMMEDIATELY! Use the RSLPF to police the waters and safeguard our ports.