Gibbs: ‘I’m determined to structure fishing industry, St. Martin needs it’

MARIGOT–President of the Collectivité Daniel Gibbs, in his speech at the sixteenth annual Fish Day festivities in Cul-de-Sac on Sunday, promised to structure the fishing industry and organise the fish market and marketplace despite setbacks caused by Hurricane Irma.

“The fishing industry is very important to the local economy. You can be proud of the work you do feeding the population in what is a difficult job,” he told fishermen. “The Fisheries and Agriculture Department of the Collectivité has been working hard to create the local action group which will help focus on development with the help of European Funds. The Collectivité’s role is to create real development opportunities and I’m convinced traditional trades have a bright future.”
He said he had not forgotten about the Cul-de-Sac pier and the ferrymen who take visitors to Pinel Island every day. The Fish Day village was free of Sargassum weed, but outside on the shoreline vast swathes of brown weed carpeted the shallow water, presenting a formidable challenge for clean-up crews.
The two hurricane-damaged schools in Cul-de-Sac will be demolished shortly, he disclosed, describing it as “a very regulated process.” On the broader picture, he said the road to the eco-landfill is still to be repaired as well as public lighting in the territory.
With the approaching hurricane season very much in the minds of the population, he reiterated once again that a significant amount of money had been budgeted at the Territorial Council of April 15 to repair roofs, and this work is getting under way.
As is customary, dignitaries from the Dutch-side government were invited to the Fish Day opening. Present were Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin, Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever, and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Jorien Wuite, who joined President Gibbs, Préfète Déléguée Anne Laubies, Senator Guillaume Arnell, Secretary-General of the Préfecture Régine Pam, and Vice-Presidents and Territorial Councillors of the Collectivité.
Representatives of fishing associations in Martinique and Marie-Galante were also present, as were President of the Economic Advisory Council Georges Gumbs, and Marcel Gumbs.
In her remarks, Préfète Laubies emphasised strongly the need for cooperation between the two sides of the island and the need to have good coordination among all parties in the reconstruction process.
“Cooperation is fundamental,” she said. “It is inconceivable, when living on a small island of between 80 to 100 thousand inhabitants, that one would do one thing on one side and do completely the opposite on the other side. Both sides have the same problem, whether it is about potable water, sewage treatment, flood risks, disposal of garbage, or preparations for hurricane season or other natural risks. Irma showed us that we cannot work alone. We must and it is our responsibility to work on this cooperation.”
After the speeches the dignitaries went out on boats for the traditional placing of the wreath in the waters of the bay to honour past fishermen. Pastor Eugene Hodge gave a blessing before the wreath was dropped in the water by Gibbs and Romeo-Marlin.
The official ceremony concluded with a traditional seafood breakfast for the dignitaries. Numerous local food stands were gearing up for a busy day in the village. On the agenda were cultural activities, crab races and, of course, live music from the stage with top local bands. Gunslingers Steel Band got the music started while Dutty Sham and Patou shared emcee duties.

Source: The Daily Herald