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Caribbean-On-Line / St. Barts / News / Important Meeting for the Local Fishermen

Important Meeting for the Local Fishermen

The president of the regional committee of fishermen of Guadeloupe, Jean-Claude Yoyotte, was recently on the island to meet with Gilles Brin, the president of St Barth's association of professional fishermen, and representatives of the Collectivity. Several months ago, the St Barth's fishermen blocked access to the harbor in Gustavia to protest the high price of gas. The agenda of this meeting was to discuss the price of gasoline and the question of fishing in the natural reserves. The latter subject was not touched upon due to lack of time.

According to Yoyotte, the professional fishermen in Martinique and Guadeloupe do not pay the tax on gasoline, making their prices 0.78 euros and 0.82 euros per liter, respectively. Why is it then that the fishermen on St Barth are paying 1.28 euros per liter? Yoyotte agrees that the price of gasoline for the fishermen of St Barth should be lowered. However, even if the tax were removed, the fishermen would still be paying 1.20 euros per liter. The representatives of the Collectivity were earnest in their discussions and agreed to research the details of the gasoline and its price when leaving the refineries of Martinique and arriving at the pumps in St Barth. They will also investigate other distributors in the hope of finding one who can deliver gasoline that meets the European standards at a better price. Their hope is to revisit this issue in two to three weeks.

But with the continuing increase in the price of oil, they fear that removing the tax may not be enough to allow the fishermen to make a decent profit. Yoyotte mentioned that a large conference on this subject will take place in September with the national committee for fishing to request government assistance.
In mid-January, Michel Barnier, French Minister for Agriculture and Fishing, announced that the government will earmark 310 million euros to be distributed over a three-year period to assist the fishermen. Of this amount, 10 million euros were allotted to the French overseas territories, including 4 million to Guadeloupe, which will include St Barth. With perhaps up to 50% of this money, they hope to purchase more efficient engines that will burn less gasoline. Yoyotte also hoped that the St Barth fishermen can come up with a more efficient was to fish, suggesting that two or three fishermen go out in the same boat to conserve gasoline. These men work hard and face danger everyday to bring us fresh mahi-mahi, tuna and langoustes. Let's hope that some relief is in sight for them.


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