St. John’s Antigua- Barbuda has not been able to expand its export markets for lobsters despite the handing over last August of a $30 million complex to help boost overseas sales, Chairman of the Barbuda Council Kelvin Punter has disclosed.
He explained that the Japanese-funded Artisanal Fisheries Complex is being “under-utilised”, and as a result sales remain largely unchanged.
The sister isle exports live lobsters primarily to Guadeloupe and St Martin based on demand.
When the facility was handed over, the island constituency’s Member of Parliament Trevor Walker said it would provide an avenue to expand the fishing industry. He also estimated that one in every four persons there directly rely on lobster exports.
But Punter said the fisheries complex is only being used to sell ice, fill tanks and ship lobsters.
“It has been very, very slow operational-wise. We’re still shipping lobsters, not on any bigger scale than before the complex,” he explained.
Punter said he believes concerted marketing is needed to help put the complex to better use and assist the faltering Barbuda economy.
“Instead of maybe just shipping or exporting fresh fish we can add value to it by using packaging and we can probably do the same for lobster,” he explained.
“I think a serious marketing drive has to take place especially in these economic hard times because I think agriculture and fisheries have to be the way to go in terms of development. With that I think the initiative has to be taken by the council with the help of the Antigua and & Barbuda Fisheries Limited with the help of government to ensure we take the right route,” he added.
Last year, opposition council member Arthur Nibbs charged that the facility was not being put to good use, but this was rejected by some of his colleagues.