Freshly-caught local red snapper on ice (file photo)

By Staff Writer

Federation citizens or visitors flying with frozen fish need to have a document clearing the catch to travel under the Fisheries Act.

The problem goes back to 2014 when the Federation was flagged for illegal and unregistered fishing. That was when the European Union advised Federation officials to implement measures to comply with the act. That was finally done earlier this year under the Fisheries Act which ensures that fishermen are properly registered as well as their catch so the government can control over fishing as well as the use of chemicals in the water.

Eric Evelyn, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries on Nevis
Eric Evelyn, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries on Nevis

However, there is fine print that some people missed in the legislation which requires that all persons leaving St. Kitts and Nevis with frozen fish need a document clearing the fish to travel. This came to light after some people complained that their fish were confiscated because they didn’t have the proper paperwork.

Minister of Agriculture to the Federal Government the Hon. Eugene Hamilton said, “The European Union yellow-carded us because of certain things we should do that we  were not doing in order to prevent illegal, unregulated fishing.  That was one of the reasons we went ahead and proceeded to satisfy some of the European Union’s demands.”

Federation officials were forced to implement new measures that went into effect earlier ths year. Minister Hamilton said it wasn’t because the government wanted to enforce the new rules — but because it was a decision by the European Union forcing the government to abide by the international regulations.

He added that similar situations exist in agriculture where clearance is needed for people to travel to North America.

“Just as in the same manner when you have to get clearance for any agricultural products like plants when going abroad, you have to get fish cleared as well,” Mr.  Hamilton said.  “You would not get it cleared at all to go into Europe at this time.  If somebody was traveling to Europe, they could not be able to carry any fish at all.”

He said the Department of Agriculture needs to spread the information to prevent further misunderstandings and confiscations of fish.  He called it a matter of ‘public relations and publishing the information’ to ensure everyone is aware of the regulations.