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Fish Processing

Exploiting our only natural resource

There is no doubt that the year 1910 was an abnormally bad year for fish{a}

For more than a century St Helena has been trying to earn money from the sea

Emperor Brand Tuna, 2005
Emperor Brand Tuna, 2005

SEE ALSO: This page talks about attempts to exploit our only natural resource - the caught fish - into a viable industry. Fishing itself is covered on our page Fishing.

Early Days

Fishing on St Helena almost certainly dates back to our first inhabitant Fernão Lopez - it is hard to imagine that he didn’t supplement his diet with freshly-caught fish. And even as early as 1684 The East India Company proposed to the early settlers that fish should be salted, to preserve them for later consumption - probably the first Fish Processing proposal, though it doesn’t seem to have been acted upon. In those days the island’s economy was wholly dependent on The East India Company, who supported St Helena because of the island’s strategic value to support ships heading home from India and the Far East. The East India Company did sometimes suggest ways the islanders could do more to support themselves, but there was never any question of St Helena having to pay its way.

When the Crown took over in 1834, however, St Helena was no longer seen as a necessary expense. Successive Governors tried to find ways to make St Helena self-sufficient, and many of these are reported on our page Industries. The idea of starting a fish-curing business on St Helena was first discussed in the 1890s. The Morris Report in 1894 recommended curing fish for export and the use of larger boats to better exploit the windward fishing areas, but Governor Sterndale’s attempts to generate interest in the idea fell on deaf ears and nothing was developed. Indeed The ‘Blue Book’ for 1898 reports that, due to higher wages, and presumably easier and safer working conditions, many had given up fishing and were working instead on military projects, such that the price of fish had trebled.

Incoming Governor Gallwey’s 1903 report confirmed that nobody on St Helena excepting himself believed that fishing and fish processing could ever become a profitable industry on St Helena. But Governor Gallwey was not deterred…

Mr Mosely’s curing business

Alfred Mosely CMG
Alfred Mosely CMG{b}

Mackerel processing on The Wharf, 1910
Mackerel processing on The Wharf, 1910{1}{b}

{c}In 1908 a friend of Governor Gallwey, a millionaire by the name of Alfred Mosely CMG, became interested in developing industry on St Helena. Seeing the island surrounded by an apparently inexhaustible supply of fish, he decided the island should have a processing industry where freshly-caught fish could be prepared for export, bringing work and income to the island. So keen was he on his idea that, encouraged by an eager Governor Gallwey, Mr Mosely invested his own money in getting experts to review the plans and in setting up the ‘factory’ and equipping it with the necessary raw materials. But note that this ‘factory’ wasn’t a factory as we think of it because there was no building; fish were processed in the open air, as shown in the picture (right). The ‘factory’ opened on 26th February 1910.

Nothing could go wrong…but it did! Though exactly what did go wrong is a matter of some debate…

According to Gosse, although normally in plentiful supply, for the next ten months catches of mackerel, the target fish, were almost non-existent, and certainly far below what was needed for a viable industry. This was probably sourced (with some apparent exaggeration!) from the rather vague report by Governor Gallwey in The ‘Blue Book’ for 1910 where he says There is no doubt that the year 1910 was an abnormally bad year for fish of every description. The fishers seem totally ignorant of why this should have been, while the superstitious put all such happenings down to the comet. During the 10 months the ‘factory’ was open, only 3,429 dozen of mackerel were delivered there.

The hard facts, however, tell a different story. Mackerel catches in 1910 were actually higher than in 1909 - an average of 681 dozen per month in 1909 and 954 dozen per month in 1910. And although the fishers sent most of their fish to the local market (where they earned 12d/dozen as opposed to the 3d/dozen the ‘factory’ was offering) still 98 barrels of cured fish was exported by the ‘factory’ to New York.

The problem seems to have been that, because of shipping costs, the 98 barrels that were exported were sold at an overall loss. It seems shipping costs were not considered when the economics of the ‘factory’ were assessed. Indeed{2} it’s probable that even if the fishers had given their catches to the ‘factory’, it still could not have operated profitably. This was clearly an embarrassment for both Mr Mosely and Governor Gallwey, and explains the rather vague report in The ‘Blue Book’.

Whatever the explanation, the ‘factory’ sat idle until early in 1911 when it was closed down and the project abandoned.

You can read an article about Mosely by Ian Bruce, published in ‘Wirebird’, the magazine of Friends of St Helena{3} 2017.

Interestingly, Mr Mosely also funded the purchase of steam-powered fish canning equipment, which as far as we can tell was never used. But the machinery did not go to waste

Between the wars

This from 1929:

At one time an attempt was made to start a fish-curing industry in the island, but the project failed. It is thought that supplies of fish are not more than sufficient for local needs.{d}

Stump scyllarides obtusus

In the early 1930s a small trade was established exporting ‘Stumps’ (the local short-legged lobster) scyllarides obtusus to South America, but with the outbreak of World War 2 the trade was abandoned and never resumed{4}.

Inward Investors

After World War 2 the Government of St Helena decided that the best way to proceed was with inward-investor capital (as Governor Gallwey and Mr Mosely had attempted). Three such fish processing attempts were made in the period 1947-1974, all on the same basic terms: an external company was granted rights to fish St Helena’s waters in exchange for them funding the setting up of a fish processing plant.

All three ventures failed:

1947Christie’s Fish Supplies of Cape Town obtained a licence to fish in St Helena waters with effect from 31st December 1947, but after a few months Christie’s decided catches were insufficient to justify the costs of setting up a processing plant and abandoned the project.
1955-1957Ovenstones of Cape Town obtained a licence to fish in St Helena waters with effect from 16th April 1955, initially processing with a small plant in Ruperts Valley and later expanding to a larger factory which opened on 21st December 1956 at Ladder Hill Fort. But catches did not support the larger plant and it closed on 30th October 1957.
1965-1974Lastly Frank Robb & Associates St Helena Island (FRASHI) got a licence to fish from 2nd March 1965, again promising to open a processing plant when catches justified it. In 1967 it built in Ruperts Valley some of the facilities now occupied by Fisheries, and brought in some new boats. In 1968 some fish was processed and exported, but the exports were not repeated and the expected growth in the industry never occurred. By 1973 the Government of St Helena was tired of waiting so the company was forced to surrender its licence on 22nd October 1974.

Recent Developments

We set out below developments from towards the end of the 20th Century to the time of writing.

Below: Fisheries CorporationEmperor Brand TunaCrab Fishing - The Oman Sea OneTescoArgos AtlanticGovernment OwnershipSaints Tuna CorporationGreen Fish Company

Fisheries Corporation (SHFC)

In the Cold Store
In the Cold Store

Following these attempts the inward-investor approach was abandoned. The UK Government sent specialists from a UK fishing company Fisheries Development Limited (FDL) and from September 1976 until October 1978 the FDL team came to St Helena and studied how fishing was conducted here. They concluded that nothing much had changed since Governor Gallwey’s study in 1903 and recommended that a change be made to how fish was sold on St Helena. Instead of individual fishers selling their catches in The Market or via small shops, a single entity would buy all the fish caught and organise its processing and sale to the public. As was the nature of Government in those days, it was proposed that it be made illegal for a fisherman to sell his catch to anybody but the central authority. In this way, FDL argued, the fishers would receive a more reliable price for their fish and the price of fish to the public would be more consistent.

Fisheries Logo
Fisheries Logo

In response to FDL’s report, in June 1977 the Government of St Helena set up the Jubilee Cold Store, a facility in Ruperts Valley to buy fish from independent local fishers and sell it both on St Helena and also abroad, which opened on 7th June 1977. In November 1979 it set up the Fisheries Corporation (SHFC) to manage the business. Ordinance No. 4 of 1979 states that SHFC’s purpose is To engage on a commercial basis in the business of fishing and fish marketing in St Helena and overseas and insofar as is compatible with these prime objects to render assistance and make loans to persons engaged in fishing and fish marketing within the St Helena fishery limits.

Unfortunately for the plan, the costs of maintaining these facilities, plus salary for the Fisheries employees, resulted in the retail price of fish more than doubling in the first year of operation, causing considerable negative comment from fishers and fish consumers. For a time some fishers simply ignored the Fisheries and continued selling their fish direct to the public, thus risking prosecution (though it seems nobody actually ended up in court). In time, however, things settled down, but the changes only altered the way fish was caught and consumed on St Helena. They did not generate the much-desired export industry.

The Jubilee Cold Store facility was destroyed by fire in August 1981 - apparently by accident (see Article below) - and re-built in 1982 with UK Government emergency funds.

MFV Westerdam
MFV Westerdam

Length: 65.66ft; Beam: 22ft; Draught: 6.5ft
Construction: Oregan Pine on Oak, Copper sheathed
Engine: Caterpillar 343 diesel, 360hp
Speed: 12 knots
Range: 800 miles
Crew: 9/10
Fish hold: 80cuM
Equipment: sat nav; 48 mile radar; sonar; autopilot; optional sail operation

MFV Westerdam: In January 1982 the Corporation purchased a larger fishing vessel, the MFV Westerdam, at a cost of £45,000 plus £75,000 for renovations (some of which came from the insurance payout following the Jubilee Cold Store fire). The aim was to see if a larger boat could establish a viable offshore fishing industry, and a survey conducted in 1985 of the entire 200 Mile exclusive fishing zone concluded that the seamounts had good stocks of Wahoo, yellowfin & bigeye tuna that could be exploited commercially. Funding was requested from London to develop this as a commercial operation but initially nothing was forthcoming and the Corporation decided in August 1988 to sell the MFV Westerdam and offshore fishing was abandoned until the arrival of Roger Morice in 2003. (The requested funding was later granted but not until 1989, about a year after the MFV Westerdam had been sold.)

After yet another expert review and report, in 1984 a moderately successful industry was established exporting salt-dried Skipjack Tuna to Cape Town, though the impact on St Helena’s overall finances was negligible.

AlbacoreYellowfin TunaSkipjackBigeye TunaWahoo

Emperor Brand Tuna

Canning Tuna

A tuna canning industry did start on St Helena in September 1984, moving to a purpose-built factory in Ruperts Valley that opened on 11th November 1987. It used the ‘Salmon process’, where a solid piece of fish (in this case, Tuna) is cooked in the tin. Indeed, the new factory apparently used Mosely’s original equipment, converted from steam to electricity!

‘Emperor Brand Tuna’ (photo, above) was a moderately successful export, and continued for more than 25 years. The factory was closed in February 2012 when the costs of complying with new food hygiene regulations made the business unviable.

Crab Fishing - The Oman Sea One

The Oman Sea One was a deep-sea crab-fishing trawler, brought to St Helena in 1991 to fish crabs for export. Starting in July 1991, the venture was short-lived. On 31st August 1991, while on her return journey from the Cardno Sea Mount, she foundered in heavy seas around 160Km NW of St Helena. Of the 17 crew, four did not survive and with the loss of the ship the project ended. There is more about the incident on our page Lost Ships.


Tesco tuna

This from the ‘Wirebird’, the magazine of Friends of St Helena{3} #14, Autumn 1996{5}:

It seems only a very short while ago that we learned that the supermarket Tesco Stores Ltd. was to sell tinned tuna from St Helena in its shops. At last it seemed that the island had found an outlet for what is undeniably an excellent product. It was not easy to find which of the Tesco stores were stocking the line but it was always worthwhile tracking down the distinctive packaging. Not only was the fish delightful but for those of us with the interests of St Helena at heart we felt that we were making a positive contribution to the island’s precarious economy.

Sadly now this little delicacy is no longer available and we learned from courteous representatives at the Tesco headquarters that difficulties with the supply and its high cost has resulted in the withdrawal of the unique line.

Indeed this is yet another example of the difficulties faced by the Saints in finding their place in the world at large. A very sad tale so often repeated over the years.

Argos Atlantic

Argos Atlantic
Argos Atlantic’s Facility
Argos Atlantic’s Facility

In June 1998 an agreement was signed by the Government of St Helena whereby a new company, Argos Atlantic Cold Store Ltd., initially funded from the UK, would begin processing fish for export. Argos would not provide its own fishing vessels; like the Fisheries Corporation it would purchase catches from the local fleet. Exported fish would be shipped via the RMS St Helena (1990-2018) to Vigo in Northern Spain to be marketed and distributed. The expanded Cold Store facility was officially opened on 29th February 2000. As with so many others on this page, initial results were promising. Argos seemed able to take all the island’s catch and more. The fishing industry expanded with the addition of offshore boats, including the MV Portzic and MV Atlantic Rose. Income to the Government of St Helena budget was significant, though not vast; fish export values rose to a peak of £878,000 in 2011.

But at the beginning of the next decade problems began to appear. The loss of the offshore fleet{6} seriously reduced catches, and the rising cost of fuel set against static prices for exported fish on the world market made operation marginal, and for some fishers un-viable.

Other vessels joined the fleet but catches remained depressed. Argos itself brought in an experimental vessel in 2014 but it could not rescue the situation and in 2015 Argos Atlantic announced that it would not renew its agreement with the Government of St Helena, which would expire on 26th April, and the facility would close.

The Government of St Helena purchased the fish processing plant from Argos to continue processing fish for local consumption and export.

Government Ownership

MFV Extractor

MFV Extractor
MFV Extractor

In December 2013 the SHFC announced it had bought from South Africa an offshore fishing vessel, the MFV Extractor. The vessel arrived on 9th April 2014 and started fishing on 24th May, returning 4 days later with 7.8 Tonnes of mostly Yellowfin tuna. Fish landings were initially good but crewing problems later in the year put the Extractor out of action and for seven months it lay idle at its moorings, a loss of around £100,000-worth of fish catches. The vessel was put up for sale by the SHFC in April 2015 and sold to a local entrepreneur. It is believed to have been sold for around half the £310,000 invested in purchasing it, delivering it and equipping it for fishing.

01/01/2017 to 30/09/2017{e}
Bigeye Tuna: 36,000Kg
Yellowfin Tuna: 117,000Kg
Other: 12,000Kg
Total: 165,000Kg

On 20th January 2018, for the first time ever, the Fisheries Corporation exported a consignment of fresh fish.

After the Government of St Helena took over fish was caught both for local consumption and for export - to Spain, Portugal and South Africa. It was processed at the former-Argos plant and sold in local shops. 165,000Kg was exported in the first nine months of 2017 (table, right; see detail). In January 2018, for the first time ever, the Fisheries Corporation took advantage of the new scheduled commercial air service to export fresh fish, and fresh St Helena fish was on sale in some outlets in South Africa. Exports, however, did not make a significant difference to the island’s economy.

After a string of breakdowns and other problems since 2015 the Government of St Helena provided ‘bail-out’ funds for SHFC, to the tune of £173,000 in November 2017 and a further £122,000 in September 2018. In July 2018 it tried to find an investor to support SHFC, without success. In June 2018 The Sentinel reported that unless Government of St Helena decided to fund SHFC on a more permanent basis the corporation might run out of money at the end of the financial year and have to close down. In October 2019 Executive Council did indeed decide on an orderly winding up of SHFC, aiming afterwards to set up a new private-sector fish processing business. In December the staff were advised that the business would close on 31st January 2020. On 30th January 2020 The Sentinel reported this under the headline So long and thanks for all the fish{7}.

At the last minute it was announced that an investor had been found (no details were released) but the majority of the functions of the SHFC did indeed cease on 31st January 2020. This would have left the island’s fishers with no way to process and sell their fish (direct sale to the public being impossible due to the complex hygiene regulations in place). So the Government of St Helena was forced to re-open the Fisheries plant under Government of St Helena ownership, with a reduced staff, until a permanent solution could be found.

On 28th February 2020 the Government of St Helena announced that PQ Trading STH (Pty) Ltd (PQTSH) had been endorsed as the investor to undertake fish processing operations on St Helena, with a plan to develop a Co-operative called the St Helena Fisheries Co-operative. Commercial fishing, marketing and supply chain activities would be undertaken collectively as one Co-operative with ownership shared between PQTSH and the fishers, saying The management structure of the Co-operative will include at least three experienced and knowledgeable representative members of the local St Helena fishing and business communities. The result would be safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Initial reaction on the island was negative. It was pointed out that local investors had also bid for the contract but had been excluded from the process without their bid being properly considered. The process was described as far from Open and Transparent. When fish catch limits were announced in July 2020 the St Helena Commercial Fishermen’s Association claimed these had been decided based on what the new investors propose to do (the Economic Development Committee of the Government of St Helena subsequently refused to endorse these catch limits but were overruled by Executive Council). Ignoring a petition signed by 40% of the island’s voting population demanding a rethink, submitted on 24th August, in September the Government of St Helena announced that all fishers would have to sell their catches to PQ Trading, even if they were not members of the ‘Co-operative’. In early 2021 PQ Trading was renamed the Saints Tuna Corporation and became a Limited Company - no longer a Co-operative owned by its members. On 5th March, despite protests, Executive Council signed an exclusive deal with Saints Tuna, giving it complete control over fishing in St Helena’s waters. The actual ownership of Saints Tuna remained unclear. In April 2021 the St Helena Commercial Fishermen’s Association began court proceedings, seeking to overturn the appointments of Saints Tuna, saying the process had been done under inappropriate secrecy and without proper consultation. The St Helena Supreme Court rejected the application, citing a technicality. Saints Tuna Corporation took over from 1st June 2021.

Saints Tuna Corporation

STC Logo

As explained above, in 2021 Executive Council arranged that Saints Tuna Corporation (owned by inward-investors Johann sr. & Johann jr. Bezuidenhout) would take over the island’s main fish processing facility with effect from 1st June 2021. It was not an easy start. The new owners discovered on 1st June that the Public Health Licence, necessary to operate the facility, had been issued in the name of the Government of St Helena and could not be transferred, so had to apply for a new licence and wait while the necessary inspections were completed - which did not happen until mid-June. They also initially had no staff - the fish processing workforce took the new contracts (only issued a few days before the takeover) to the Public Solicitor and were advised not to sign them because they were not legal under St Helena Law.

The price for processing fish under the new management was announced in mid-June 2021 - £2.81 per kilo. This was a considerable increase on the old price of £0.15 per kilo. It was calculated that this would cause an 152% increase in the price of fish in the shops.

Refurbishment of the fish processing facility (photos below{f}) was completed in August 2022, but then STC promptly announced that it would not be accepting fish from fishers for processing and return - it would only accept fish that it would process and sell itself. This left those fishers that wanted to sell their own fish with a problem: they were required by law to have their fish processed by a licensed fish-processing facility; there was (at that time) only one licensed fish-processing facility; and that would not accept their fish. This was fully explained in the 1st September 2022 edition of The Sentinel - see sentinelextract2022001.pdf. At the time of writing this had not been resolved by Executive Council - the body responsible for the contract with STC.

Fish processing continued to deteriorate as fishermen refused to supply STC, preferring instead to supply the community directly, even though such sales were sometimes illegal. The press release and counter press releases between Saints Tuna Corporation and The Green Fish Company continued. Local fish availability in the shops fell dramatically, to the point where Cllr. Thrower, speaking in Legislative Council on 17th March 2023 observed{8}:

Currently you can buy marijuana more easily than you can legally buy fresh fish.

In June 2023 STC received European Union certification allowing it to export Tuna to the EU, the first shipment leaving on the Sea Freight ship that month.

The Green Fish Company (TGFC)


In April 2022 an announcement by the newly-formed ‘Green Fish Company’ (TGFC) stated that it wished to start a fish-canning (for export) business alongside Saints Tuna Corporation, stating that it needed four things to get started: investment (from Saints and overseas); an overseas retail partner; a tuna quota; and premises from which to operate. The announcement stated that it was in negotiations with the Government of St Helena over the last two requirements. Further discussions continued over the following weeks but in August 2022 it was confirmed that the Government of St Helena refused to licence the old cannery to Green Fish Company. The TGFC were eventally able to purchase the old cannery building, with permission to demolish it (completed in April 2023) and build a modern European-standards compliant cannery in its place. At the time of writing the work continues…

The Future

What about the future for St Helena’s fishing industry? Speculation is always dangerous, but on balance we think things will not change, or at least not dramatically. The emphasis today for St Helena is on tourism and the world-market for fish is based on large volumes with which St Helena could not hope to compete. Yes, our fish inhabit clean seas, but this is not unique to St Helena. Yes, they are pole-and-line caught, not net, but this also is not unique, though it is rare. Unlike our Coffee there is nothing particularly special about Tuna caught near St Helena compared with the same fish caught elsewhere in the world. So unless somebody discovers a new fish species which is tasty, endemic and in sufficient numbers to be safe to export without endangering the species, we think fish-for-export will never be a major income-earner for St Helena.

That being said, locally-caught fish is still cheaper than any imported product and provides a stable renewable source of the island’s protein requirements. You should never make St Helena Fishcakes with anything other than locally-caught fish!

Read More

Below: Article: Fire Disaster at the Jubilee Cold StoreArticle: Argos Official Opening“Fish and Fisheries of Saint Helena Island”

Article: Fire Disaster at the Jubilee Cold Store

News Review Banner

Published in the St Helena News Review 21st August 1981{5}

In the early hours of Saturday the 15th of August three explosions shattered the peace of the night and alerted the community to the fire raging within the machinery (‘plant’) room of the Jubilee Cold Store. This building, the headquarters of the St Helena Fisheries Corporation, was only opened on June 7th 1977. When the Fire Brigade and Ambulance arrived they were met by an inferno without precedent on the Island. With much volunteer help the Brigade, led by Sergeant K F Leo, fought the blaze for over two hours but could not prevent the complete destruction of the plant room and all its equipment, extensive damage to the main building including the destruction of the fruit and vegetable chill store (which contained over £4,000 worth of cheese, plus merchants’ stores of butter, margarine, salami, bacon and beer) and slight damage to the fish chill store and the blast freezer’s insulation. The entire roof will have to be replaced but the frame of the building appears to have withstood the ravages of the flames and explosions. The overall loss has been estimated at around £100,000.

Although some 500lbs of fish which was in the fish chill store had to be dumped along with other items that had escaped the flames but could have been contaminated by fumes, the 12-15 tons of frozen fish completely sealed in the freezer at the opposite end of the Cold Store to the plant room was totally unaffected. This fish, the Island’s ‘larder’ during the out-of-season fishing months, was removed to the Fisheries Corporation Cold Storage facilities in Ruperts Bay early this week after being tested and passed fit by the Public Health Laboratory Service. The Corporation’s retail outlets have not been affected by the disaster and sales of fresh mackerel as well as frozen fish have been made around the Island as normal. However, the Corporation now has no machinery to chill or freeze freshly-caught fish at the Jubilee Cold Store and so it no longer has the capability to handle large fish catches.

Governor Massingham and many Departmental Heads were at the scene of the fire shortly after 4am along with Mr John Musk MLC, the Chairman of the Fisheries Corporation, Mr Terrence Richards, the Corporation’s General Manager, and many of the Corporation’s staff and fishers. Some of the latter were moved to tears by the tragedy occurring before their eyes.

During the day, cleaning-up operations were set in motion and by late Saturday afternoon, the main building had been cleared of the debris. The gutted remains of the plant room, where the fire appears to have been centred, have been left untouched pending investigations into the cause of the fire. No watch-keeping personnel were on duty at the time of the blast and fire and the only injuries suffered were minor cuts and grazes by several firemen.

Although saddened and shocked by this body-blow to the Corporation just after the most successful period in its short history, Councillor Musk and Mr Richards both stressed that, like the Phoenix, the Corporation would rise from the ashes. Their prompt action in setting-up the Ruperts facilities and assuring the public of continued supplies of fish even though beset with problems reflects the tenacity, flexibility and competence of the Corporation’s management and staff. The Corporation have asked that we publish their grateful thanks to all who helped during and after the blaze, including Solomons, who offered the use of their refrigerated container as a fish store. We, in turn, on behalf of the community express our sorrow at this tremendous loss to the Corporation and wish it a speedy return to normality and future prosperity.

Article: Argos Official Opening

Published in the St Helena News 3rd March 2000{5}

Argos Workforce
Argos Workforce

Last Tuesday, 29th February at Ruperts Valley, the long awaited opening of the Argos complex took place. 120 invited guests assembled outside the enormous building, which had just been given a wash courtesy of the Fire Department. HE the Acting Governor, Mr Clancy, Bishop John Salt, Executive and Legislative Councillors, Senior members of the Administration, the management of St Helena Development Agency (SHDA), Heads of Departments and NGOs, Members of the fishers’ Association and of course the work force who had constructed the building. Mr Peter Thomson of Argos Atlantic Cold Stores Ltd welcomed everyone and expressed his great pleasure at being present at this memorable event, which was the result of four years of negotiations and extremely hard work by all concerned. He went on to say that in the beginning a great many factors had to be carefully considered as there were considerable risks involved in a project of this size not least of which was would there be enough fish. He went on to thank everyone involved for making the project such a success and closed by urging the fishers to start bringing the fish in. He then invited Mr Clancy, the Acting Governor to say a few words. Mr Clancy began by saying how delighted he was to be present at the opening. He said that it had been important St Helenians had been directly employed in the construction of the very impressive building and that they would continue to be employed in the actual operation of the complex including the technical and managerial side.

Apart from direct employment the project will sustain or generate additional employment opportunities in the fishing industry. He reminded the fishers present of the times when the Fisheries Corporation had had to impose quotas on the fish that they could take. This should now be a thing of the past. Argos should be able to take all the Tuna that the fishers can catch. The potential for earnings to rise and the greater spending should have positive ripple effects throughout the economy. The project should have a very positive effect on employment prospects. The Argos project has acted as a flagship for inward investment. In the past inward investors have been discouraged by the access arrangements. We can now use this magnificent building as an indication of Argos Helena’s faith in the product of St Helena’s seas and the skill of its workers.

He complimented everyone on the high level of teamwork involved in bringing the project to fruition. It had been a multi-agency effort, which had included government departments, politicians, SHDA and the Fisheries Corporation and of course Argos all working closely together. The Attorney General played an important part in ensuring that the three agreements that had been signed were consistent. There had been a few challenges as the building went up, not least the breakdown of the RMS St Helena (1990-2018), but Gilbert Yon as SHDA project manager and Hugh Dowdall as Argos Project Manager working closely with Denzil Yon, the contractor, and his team of workers had risen to these challenges with professionalism and skill.

He closed by saying how pleased he was to have been associated with the project in the 2½ years he has been on the island and that seeing this very fine project come to fruition was particularly gratifying.

Mr Clancy closed his remarks by thanking all those who had been involved and wished the enterprise every success for the good of Argos Helena and St Helena.

HE Acting Governor declared the building open
HE Acting Governor declared the building open

Mr Gilbert Yon, the project manager for SHDA provided some of the background to the development, and said the it was Stuart Mosey who made the initial approach to Argos, and Gilbert, whilst on training in the UK visited Argos to determine whether or not they were interested in the fishing industry in St Helena. A further two years of negotiations and discussions leading to the signing of agreements in June 1998. Work on the site commenced in November 1998 and tenders for the construction of the building were finalised in January 1999. And DGY Building Contractors were successful. Gilbert praised Denzil Yon and his multi-skilled work force for their enthusiasm. The project provided employment for over twenty people during construction.

He closed by wishing all the agencies involved the best of luck, a fruitful future and tonnes of fish.

Hugh Dowdall expressed his relief that the day had at last arrived when the building could be opened. There were still some jobs to do but they would not take long to complete. A tremendous amount of hard work had been done by all concerned. It would not be long before the complex would be ready to receive its first consignments of fish.

HE the Acting Governor then pushed open the large steel door leading to the reception area and declared the building officially open.

The building had gone through a substantial improvement and clean up since the last time St Helena News visited. Guests were free to look round and have a drink and something to eat. Everyone was extremely impressed by the size of the place and the finish of the interior. The whole building has been quite a feat of engineering and ingenuity. And all those who took part in the project will justifiably look back on Tuesday, 29th February 2000 with a degree of pride.

“Fish and Fisheries of Saint Helena Island”

Much useful information can be gained from the book “Fish and Fisheries of Saint Helena Island” by Alasdair Edwards, published in 1990 (ISBN 0-9516480-0-4) - if you can get hold of a copy!

Although published , the sections describing the history of fishing on St Helena up to the end of the 1980s, and the detail on the fish that inhabit our waters, still provide useful reading.

The optimistic tone when describing the future of St Helena’s fishing industry reflects the feeling at the time.


{a} Governor Gallwey, in The ‘Blue Book’ 1910{b} Ian Bruce{c} Our thanks to Ian Bruce for support and the figures used in preparing this section{d} The ‘Blue Book’, 1929{5}{e} SHFC - see detail{f} Copyright © South Atlantic Media Services Ltd. (SAMS), used with permission.


{1} The environment here falls a long way short of current food-hygiene regulations!{2} As is explained in the Article about Mosely by Ian Bruce.{3} The four ‘Wirebird’ publications should not be confused.{4} ‘Stumps’ are still caught for local consumption, but not between 1st October and 31st December, which is the closed season.{5} @@RepDis@@{6} MV Atlantic Rose broke from its moorings, ran aground and could not be saved; MV Portzic became too expensive to maintain and was scuttled.{7} If you don’t understand, look up The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.{8} Jokingly, we assume…