Around 360 Falklands residents visited the floating dock FIPASS on Saturday 25th February as part of Fish Day – celebrating 30 years of the Falkland Islands Fishery. The Falkland Islands Fishing Association (FIFCA) Executive Secretary Jackie Cotter told Penguin News the day went very well and its aim, as well as celebrating the anniversary, was to give a general overview both of the fishery and the Falklands Government Fisheries Department.
Starting at 10am the Fisheries Department opened for tours which included the laboratory and the Fisheries Operations room (FISHOPS).
In the laboratory, Senior Fisheries Scientist Dr Alexander ‘Sasha’ Arkhipkin explained to visitors the life-cycle of the different species, and observers and scientists described life on board the vessels.
FISHOPS staff explained how a combination of the protection vessel Protegat, technology, crew, and staff on land, combine to protect the Falklands fishing zone. If visitors were still curious about zone protection they could also have a tour of the Protegat.
There were also tours on a number of trawlers, including the Argos Vigo where the delicious tapas were a hit with everyone, as were the smart commemorative shirts worn by the officers and crew.
At the SAAS yard there were demonstrations of the massive machinery, a very chilly container to check out and the chance to hear all about containerizing and freighting products to the Falkland. Thanks to Eugene Hurley this less than fascinating-sounding subject was highly informative (and surprisingly funny).
The Lighthouse Mission to Seafarers was the place to be for a burger on the barbecue, and information about the Mission’s work over the years, and if barge and pump rooms were your thing then Atlink had the answer with their tours.
Fish farming and the production process was also a theme, with trout the subject of examination at Falklands Fish Farming Ltd and down the road near Boxer Bridge the production process could be viewed at the Fish Factory and the final delicious product could be tasted.
At a reception held at the Historic Dockyard Museum on Saturday evening MLA Phyl Rendell who holds the portfolio for natural resources said the fishing industry had made significant progress in 30 years, but couldn’t have done it without the assistance of the UK Government in protecting the Fishing Zone as well as the fishery’s overseas partners.
She also said the industry and government had worked together to improve the conditions for the crews; one of its major achievements. Director of Natural Resources John Barton said while 30 years might seem a long time; it wasn’t in terms of researching marine species, especially when squid have a one-year lifecycle.
He said the ITQ system gave a secure environment for the industry to invest in, long-term, and also promoted greater stakeholder involvement in research, as the stakeholder could directly benefit from it.
With three new ships being built in Spain he said there was a great deal of goodwill in the area towards the Falklands and similarly, in the Far East.
He said it had been an epic day, and the Islands should be grateful to all the ships and crews. He would make no predictions, except that the industry will be vibrant for the next 30 years.
FIFCA Chair Hamish Wylie reflected on how far the industry had come in 30 years, and how the tax and licence fees had transformed the Falklands economy.
He said he was pleased to see that, despite being advised that it couldn’t be done, higher crew welfare standards had been imposed on foreign-flagged vessels working in Falklands waters.
He pointed out the challenges facing the industry included the post-Brexit arrangements, as a major market for FI produce is in southern Europe. Secondly, a serious port for the fleet needs to be developed he said.
Finally he thanked Jacqueline Cotter, and a small army of people behind the scenes, for their efforts in helping to arrange the memorable day. (Source: Penguin News)