As plans to make fishing the third economic pillar of the BVI move forward, efforts are being made to ensure that the international needs are met. Therefore the Territory is pushing to ensure that one of its main identified markets – Europe – is not blocked because of the impending UK BREXIT.
Premier Smith explained that during his BREXIT discussion with the UK he asked the mother country to ensure in its negotiations that Overseas Territories (OT) trade with European Union countries is not affected. But pundits say that with a hard BREXIT it is not difficult to imagine what will happen to OTs.
During his 16 February press briefing Dr. Smith told reporters that the BVI has intention to export fish and made this known to the UK: “I also discussed with UK Ministers the importance of maintaining the BVI and other OTs’ tariff and quota-free trade in goods with the EU. My Government is intent on becoming a fisheries exporter in the future and the EU is a major market to whom we wish to export.” But pundits say that fish is our only food reserve in case of global crisis and if we empty our sea to export to Europe what are we left with?
Hon. Smith said that UK understands the BVI’s position and promised to advise in the near future on what options will be open to the OTs in this regards, whether under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules or under a free-trade deal with the EU.
In explaining the feasibility of Government’s fishing interest Premier Smith mentioned: “About 80 percent of the Falkland budget is gotten through the selling of fish to the European Union…We have the potential here in the BVI to do similarly in terms of fishing and other areas. So it is important that this potential, this possibility, and capability to trade with the EU at professional rates is continued…That’s one of the reasons we continue to negotiate with the United Kingdom to be able to represent us efficiently.”
Last October Government took a big step towards its fishing economic plan by launching the Fisheries Advisory Committee.
Which is being Chaired by Mr. Ron Potter, and is expected to help to steer the industry dialogue and assist the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour in setting the direction for the fishing industry.
As part of its mandate the Fisheries Advisory Committee is expected to advice on any proposal or access agreement, joint venture or investments in fisheries and development projects. It is also tasked to advise on the coordination of activities of the fishing industry and the establishment, with the view to ensuring better administration of the fisheries sector.
Additionally, the committee would advise on any initiative for the regional harmonization of fisheries, including licenses for foreign vessels, and matters of conservation for living marine resources.
The move to make fishing the third pillar also included the 2012 upgrade of the BVI Fishing Complex. However, the existing track record of BVI Fisheries performance has for several decades exposed its neglected limitations. One commentator said the he sees nothing good coming out of BREXIT, not for the UK and even less for the Territories: “there is even talk of turning the UK into a tax haven, if that happens the BVI can retire,” he said.