At a special Executive Council meeting today, Thursday, 23 November 2017, the Executive Council considered a range of options to assist the St Helena Fisheries Corporation (SHFC) to recover from significant financial difficulties.

A large number of options for the fish processing plant have been considered, in consultation with members of the fishing industry, seeking to turn around what has historically been a loss making operation.

It has been recognised that the fish processing plant is in need of significant investment and that changes will need to be made to maximise the value of the fish processed by the plant. Councillors recognised the industry’s significant value to St Helena and offered their support.

Having discounted the option to close down the processing plant Councillors’ advice to the Governor was that SHG input additional funds to support the industry until March 2018.

The agreed course of action would also see an improvement plan designed and implemented. The plan will put in place measures to improve profitability. By the end of February 2018, a complete review will take place, after which a recommendation will be made whether to continue to support the SHFC beyond 1 April 2018.

SHG will also provide a guarantee to Connect St Helena for any debt incurred by SHFC for utilities after Monday, 23 October 2017. This guarantee would be limited to the electricity consumed from that date up until 31 March 2018. This guarantee can only be approved through a resolution of Legislative Council.

It was further agreed to set up two working groups – one looking into the possibility of raising additional finance for the industry through carefully managed licencing of foreign fishing vessels, the other to begin the process of seeking an investor to build a new fish processing plant. Fishermen will be fully involved in both working groups.

Councillors recognised that there were risks associated with this decision and required everyone to continue to work together to ensure that the fishing industry in St Helena was capable of flourishing.

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SHG
23 November 2017

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