The Initial Phase of the Agreement between SHG and Argos for the operation of the Argos Cold Store in Rupert’s ended on 26 April 2015. In anticipation of this, Argos and SHG have been in discussion since mid-2014 regarding the future of this operation which is so central to the Island’s fishing industry.

St Helena Government has been reviewing potential land usage in Rupert’s Valley pending the transfer of freight handling to the new wharf, currently under construction.  It is clear that space in Rupert’s is at a premium and must be used efficiently.

The anticipated increases in tourist numbers, following the Airport opening and the move to less frequent sea freight deliveries to St Helena once the RMS ceases operations, are projected to result in an increased requirement for temperature-controlled storage of imported foodstuffs. Higher levels of on-Island food production are also leading to greater demand for cold storage.

After taking into account the recent uplift in fishing activity, thanks to the advent of more locally-operated offshore vessels such as the John Mellis and the Swordfish, and the anticipated further uplift from resumption of Extractor operations, the current Argos facility is still considerably larger than is required to service the fishing industry. It makes sense, especially given the shortage of suitable land in Rupert’s, for that facility to be used more widely for chilled and frozen storage as well as continuing to service the fishing industry.  This would be of great potential benefit to importers, traders and growers as well as allowing more cost-effective fish processing and storage for on-Island sales and export.

Operation of such a multi-stakeholder facility is best carried out by an entity which represents those stakeholders. SHG has therefore negotiated a transition from operation of the Cold Store facility by Argos – the exact format of this company is still to be confirmed.

All parties recognise that continuity of fishing industry related operations is vital during this period of transition, which is expected to be complete by mid-July, and Argos will continue to provide expertise and assistance for as long as necessary  to ensure this continuity is achieved.

Argos will also continue the registration and high seas licencing of its deep sea fishing vessels in the port of Jamestown.

Argos Representative, James Ragg, who is currently on Island, said:

“We are sad that our long involvement in the Cold Store operation is coming to a close but we recognise that the change in circumstances arising from the opening of the Airport and new freight arrangements mean that a new approach to cold storage on the Island is necessary. 

“Our close involvement in St Helena is ongoing in the form of vessel registration and our project to build and operate a hotel near High Hill remains active and will, we believe, provide a good ‘country’ counterpart to the impressive plans for the Jamestown Hotel.”

SHG added:

“We are grateful to Argos for their substantial support to the Island’s fishing industry over the past 16 years and look forward to many more years of their involvement in St Helena. The opportunities for development of the cold storage facility in Rupert’s are exciting and we believe will be of broad benefit to the Island.”

SHG & Argos

7 May 2015

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