Eleven years after the revolution, Cuba is still fighting to survive against the problems of underdevelopment and of the economic embargo placed upon it by many countries, including those in the Organisation of American States.
Eleven years after the revolution, Cuba is still fighting to survive against the problems of underdevelopment and of the economic embargo placed upon it by many countries, including those in the Organisation of American States. Some food are rationed in Cuba but food industries are expanding to meet the needs of the Cuban people and fish, in particular, is providing much of their diet.
The Cuban national fishing industry is equipped with modern steel boats, trawlers and tuna boats which sail as far away as occidental Africa. In Cuba itself, modern fishmeal plants, fishing ports, docks and other installations and being built to handle the fish brought back.
Before the revolution, fish was mostly sold in the nation's capital Havana. In the cities of the interior, and the small towns and villages, fish was never a staple part of the people's diet because they were unable to buy any. Now, quite the opposite is the case: the fish catch of each province is distributed within that province and in addition, tans of thousands of tons of fish are shipped each year from Havana--where the steel-hull fishing fleets are based--to the interior.
In 1966, the National Institute of Fishing created an agency for the operation of the inshore fleets. Of the four fleets, there are state-owned and one is a workers's co-operative operating out of Batabano, a small port which gives its name to a large gulf on the south coast of Pinar del Rio--Cuba's westernmost province.
In Batabano, about 2,000 people are working in co-operative: 1,200 work on thee actual fleet and others in the small factories. They concentrate on shell-fish and lobster in particular. And make their own lobster-baskets shaped to an old indian design using bamboo, which prove very effective. In the factories the fish is prepared and canned for export to Canada, France, Spain and the People's Republic of China.
The shell-fish industry as a whole has a long-term prosect of becoming one of Cuba's major industries. The huge fleet of Russian-financed high speed, long-range boats carrying on board freezing equipment, could capture a large slice of the multi-million dollar freezing equipment, could Americas should the trade embargo be relaxed.
Cuba has given much attention to fishing research and recently accepted the invitation of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Inter-Government oceanographic Commission to join CICAR-- the Co-operative Investigation of the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions.