The island of St Helena comes of age

Exciting times on the southern Atlantic island of St Helena.  Not only is it the Bicentenary of the arrival of Napoleon on the island, but this September also witnessed the landing of the first fixed-wing aircraft on the island - heralding the imminent opening of the island's long-awaited airport (scheduled for the first half of 2016).  But on the fisheries front there are also a number of firsts. 

Once again Crick has been on a visit to the island to advise on further development of the fishery sector - at a time when the island's leading fishermen are making waves - investing in bigger and better boats, but also taking them way out into the ocean to fish the nearest seamounts to the island - the Bonaparte Seamount some 60 miles to the west of the island, and the Cardno Seamount some 180 miles to the north of the island.  In addition new business opportunities are emerging in the area of sports fishing (the first flying-bridge sports vessel is now operating at the island), scuba and free diving, and whale and whale shark watching.  Bit by bit the island economy is picking up, in part in preparation for the increased number of visitors to the island expected in 2016. 

In preparation for this plans are afoot for increased hotel and guest-house accommodation, and for an upgraded restaurant offer - with ongoing training provided in cooking skills, menu design, business management and restaurant operation.  And this includes the opportunity to sample the riches of the sea - as fresh as you can get tuna and wahoo, local fish delicacies of the bright red bullseye fish and rock grouper, local mackerel paté and the unique St Helena fish cakes (easy on the chilli).  But part of the plan is also to boost fresh and frozen exports of the island's sustainably sourced tunas - yellowfin, bigeye, albacore and skipjack.  With the increased landings of fish from the rejuvenated fleet, much now rests with developing and marketing the St Helena brand, working with key trading partners in South Africa and western Europe. Things are looking up.