The fish market in Consett Bay, St John is in line for a more than one-million-dollar upgrade as the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy continues its improvement of fish markets across the island.
The improvement was highlighted during the 2020/2021 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure hearing in the House of Assembly where the Ministry of Agriculture identified the east coast market as a priority.
The ministry is seeking a total of $20.6 million for fiscal year 2020/2021, of which $4.5 million is earmarked for fisheries management and development.
A total of $1.5 million of those funds will go towards the upgrade of the Consett Bay fish market, senior civil servants told lawmakers.
Acting Chief Fisheries Officer Joyce Leslie said the major upgrades would include a slipway, a redeveloped boatyard and a storage area.
She said plans for the development were advanced, adding that detailed engineer drawings were being prepared and the bidding process for the building of the facilities would soon begin.
“The application for improvement has already been submitted to town planning. So we are really hoping to hit the ground running April 1, in terms of that development,” said Leslie.
She said the slipway would allow for the use of an hydraulic boatlift to transfer vessels to and from the water to the boatyard, and this would result in no damage as was the case when vessels are being “dragged on the sand using a tractor”.
Leslie said: “It was a step forward in terms of improving the facilities. Luckily the beach there at Conset Bay is relatively firm.
“We had transported some concrete slabs from Tent Bay to the site to provide a smooth path for the equipment to roll on but that has deteriorated over the years. But now we really want to have in site, a proper slipway there to facilitate the smooth entry and exit of equipment ment of boats into and out of the water.
“Also the resources are to provide a hardened surface in the boatyard, which is currently a compacted marl filling, which allows vessels to get stuck when it rains.”
She also indicated that the upgrade would include improved water utility services.
“Part and parcel also there is a small covered area where the fishermen gather and play dominoes, so we are looking to put in a decent area for them to operate and to put in some facilities to store nets and so on, some lockers for them. So in an essence that is what the funds are to supply,” the deputy chief of fisheries said.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey said the decision was taken to upgrade the rural fish market because it had “fallen into a state of disrepair”.
“The state of Consett Bay market as well as the haul out for the slipway require significant attention,” said Humphrey.
Humphrey said Government was “very willing” to partner with individuals in the private sector who wanted to help with the development, adding that the repairs will be “significant”.
Humphrey said his vision was to upgrade all fish markets across the island while ensuring that they were abuzz with activity.