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Senate Steps Towards Aquaculture Loan

US - The Senate Economic Development and Agriculture Committee voted out of committee Tuesday a bill authorizing the Public Finance Authority to tender a bridge loan of $34.3 million to Crucian Holdings for a large-scale tilapia (fish) and shrimp farming operation on St. Croix.

According to OnePaper, the bill, sponsored by Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste, would simply authorize the PFA to give the loan. It would not direct or require the PFA to tender the loan.

"I believe this bill offers significant economic benefits to the territory," Baptiste told OnePaper. "It is no secret tilapia has been a success at UVI, but the focus has been mostly on research rather than commercial development."

Farming fish on St. Croix would help the territory come a little closer to meeting its own food needs, he argued. And if the territory doesn't meet its needs, someone else will.

"Even as we speak, on the neighboring island of St. Lucie they are developing a shrimp and tilapia facility," Baptiste said.

Ellen Hardy

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