Governor Bryan Takes Full Credit For Official Reopening Of Newly Renovated Fish Market In La Reine
KINGSHILL — Governor Albert Bryan was joined by a host of other dignitaries and representatives of the USVI fishing industry at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially reopen the newly renovated La Reine Fish Market, which had been closed since 2007 for health and safety reasons.
Governor Bryan was joined by Senator Kenneth Gittens, a long-time advocate of reopening the fish market; Tionee Scotland from the office of Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett; Agriculture Commissioner Positive Nelson; Gerson “Nicky” Martinez, representing the St. Croix commercial fishing industry; and Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) Commissioner Jean-Pierre Oriol, whose agency spearheaded the efforts to meet Governor Bryan’s mandate of getting the facility back into operation.
“This Administration, we’re cutting ribbons. We’re finalizing. We’re closing in. We’re making sure when we put the final name on these things, we put them to rest,” Bryan said. “But the important story here is not a story of credit. It’s a story of cooperation. It’s the story of what happens when the Legislature, the executive branch, commissioners, the Delegate and you, the people, work together.”
Bryan also said the reopening of the La Reine market is part of his larger plan to support the Territory’s “blue economy,” which comprises the fishing community, as well as the charter and leisure boating industries, marine leisure businesses and his overarching Marine Industry initiatives in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“We have to grow and maintain all our industries, especially our Marine industry,” he said. “For a long time we have governed with our back to the water. This Administration is looking to the blue economy in order to make our people thrive.
“We have to support the fishing now, but we also have to support the future of fishing as our young people come along,” Governor Bryan said.
The new facility will offer 18 individual stalls and 12 state-of-the-art cleaning stations that are available for monthly rent to licensed commercial fishermen.
The new market also will have an ice machine, ADA-compliant restrooms, plentiful parking for customer access and a 20,000-gallon holding tank for fish waste, replacing the previous 5,000-gallon tank.
The rent for individual stalls at the new La Reine Fish Market facility are $150 per month and cleaning stations are $75 per month. Persons interested in becoming a tenant can contact DPNR’s Division of Environmental Enforcement at 340-773-5774.
DPNR Commissioner Oriol said that in 2019, pre-pandemic, almost 105,000 pounds of fish, representing about $627,000, were pulled from the waters of St. Croix, and in 2020, those numbers rose to 133,000 pounds of fish worth about $800,000.
“Those numbers represent an industry that is fragmented all over the place and not centralized,” Commissioner Oriol said. “The completion of this facility shows that it is not just a renovation of the facility, but it demonstrates the commitment of the Bryan-Roach Administration to supporting entrepreneurship in the commercial fishing industry here in St. Croix.”
Commissioner Oriol said that in addition to providing local fishers a clean and secure environment to serve their clients, it also allows DPNR to conduct its mandate for port-samplings of landings in a centralized area of the island.
Commissioner Oriol said Wednesday’s reopening represents Phase 1 of a potential three- or four-phase project, and he said he has met with Agriculture Commissioner Positive Nelson to discuss the opportunities to provide the fish waste to farmers for fertilized and the possibility of putting an organic garden on the 5-acre fish market property.
“To the fishers of St. Croix that will operate out of this facility, I want you to know that this is your facility. If you take care of it, it will take care of you,” Commissioner Oriol said. “If you have ideas on improvements that will make a larger impact for your business, I encourage you to please speak with the staff that will be stationed here.”
Senator Gittens, who was instrumental in getting the 30th Legislature to appropriate the funding needed to reopen the fish market, heralded the accomplishment as an important economic tool for the fishing industry and a critical necessity to maintain food security in the Territory.
“I’m here to urge all the people of St. Croix to support this market. I see nothing but economic development here,” said Senator Gittens, who is chairman of the 34th Legislature’s Economic Development and Agriculture Committee. “The place was closed for 14 years. We see seven years of movement back and forth. Let’s look forward to this place being open for the next 21 years.”
Other projects Governor Bryan mentioned during the ribbon-cutting ceremony as part of his “blue economy” strategy include:
- $2 million for the revitalization of the boat ramp at Hull Bay on St. Thomas and a new parking lot for boat trailers and storage.
- Legislation to appropriate funding for the repair of the Kings Alley pier, the Gallows Bay Fisherman’s Dock and the repair of the boat ramp in Krause Lagoon.
- Repairs at Altona Lagoon.
- $1.75 million for the Ann Abramson Pier – South Tender landing to assist our scuba shops and dive enthusiasts and to provide access to our economy for charter vessels that are visiting Frederiksted with increased frequency.
- $24 million cargo terminal and dock improvements at St. Croix’s Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier to relocate all cargo operations from Gallows Bay, which then will realize its full potential as a premium passenger facility catering to mini-cruise ships and luxury yachts.