MARIGOT–President of the Collectivité of St. Martin Daniel Gibbs said despite fishing, agriculture, and livestock breeding being small contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), he fully believes in the potential of the local fishing sector in St. Martin as it brings, “as much value as the revenue it generates, and offers hope for the future of young people.”
Speaking at the opening of the 15th edition of Fish Day in Cul-de-Sac Bay on Sunday, he vowed during his mandate to “move the sector forward.”
“Today is a gathering for friends and family but also a day to remember that our island has a strong history, with a culture deeply rooted in values of solidarity, sharing and tradition,” he said. “It’s a day dedicated to our fishermen. They are the ambassadors of our culture. I want to warmly thank them for the work they do.”
He said he was proud that there are initiatives in place that contribute to the development of the territory, such as the one currently in progress and steered by the Chamber of Commerce where 12 young people from St. Martin are in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, studying for a CAP certificate of qualification in the fishing industry.
“Our young people must take over the work of our elders. I strongly encourage them to get involved in fishing and why not create your own business,” he suggested. “I propose we work together to develop this sector. We will also explore with Réserve Naturelle the possibility of opening up new fishing zones.”
Joining the French-side elected officials and Maritime Affairs Director Michael Wery were St. Maarten’s Prime Minister William Marlin and Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs, Silveria Jacobs.
Also present were President of Martinique Fisherman’s Association Mirella Méraut and Council lady Eliane Chalono who represented the Maire of Fort-de-France, Martinique, Senator Guillaume Arnell and President of the Economic Advisory Council Georges Gumbs.
Gifts were exchanged between the two ladies from Martinique and President Gibbs.
The elected officials with the media then boarded the Pinel Ferry boats for the traditional placing of a wreath in the waters of the bay to remember fishermen who are deceased.
Pastor Hodge gave a blessing before Gibbs read out the names of the fishermen. Gibbs, assisted by Prime Minister Marlin, then dropped the wreath into the water.
The Fish Day Village draws thousands of visitors each year for the cultural activities, entertainment, and local food, with the emphasis on fish of course. Food stands were busy getting ready for what was expected to be another bumper turn-out from the public.
The Gunslingers Steel Band got the live music started followed by the Boulogne Combo Band from French Quarter.
Spectators and elected officials were entertained early on by crab races.
From 4:00pm until 10:00pm another wave of festival-goers were expected for the live music from local bands on the main stage, including headlining artistes from Barbados, Krossfyah.