Newtown Fisheries Co-operative began in 1978. Sister Shirley Agoo spearheaded the formation of the co-operative and Mr. Mike Prynn; a retired naval officer helped the co-operative to become registered.
The intention of the co-operative then, was to market the fish caught by the Newtown fishermen. After hurricane David many of the fishing boats got damaged, and as such the need to become a full fishing co-operative arose. They acquired the land through the auspices of Sister Alicia Detriemerie, and Mr. Ronan David, through a 99 year lease which is where the Newtown Fisheries co-operative now stands at 110 Victoria Street Newtown. Mike Prynn wrote a project to help acquire boats and fishing equipment from donor agencies. Newtown Fisheries became a registered co-operative in 1981, with Mike prynn as general secretary and Elwin Jules as general captain. The co-operative continued to grow and flourish.
They conducted different types of fishing such as, beach seining, tuna long lining (for which they became the first group to do that type of fishing in Dominica), deep sea fishing (flying fish and dolphin), and bottom long lining. The fishing venture was very lucrative and it was through this that they were able to acquire new equipment. They invested in a 65 foot motor vessel which was converted into a trawler. However, maintaining this vessel proved to be very costly, thus, it was sold and two smaller boats were built called “Alicia” after sister Detriemerie, and “Shane’ after one of their fishermen who got lost at sea. In the 1980’s Newtown Fisheries Co-operative was thriving with a membership of 65. Some of these members are still around, others have migrated and some have left fishing. Recruiting new members seemed difficult back then since the older members were gone and the younger people were not interested in becoming members.
The year 1998 was a turning point for Newtown Fisheries Co-operative. Mr. Mike Prynn died, followed by hurricane Lenny in 1999. Most boats were lost and it became difficult to replace both boats and fishermen, therefore fishing activity became minimal in early 2000 since there seemed to be a shortage of individuals who could do both beach seining and long lining. The older fishermen had either died or retired, younger ones had migrated and those who remained in Dominica did not consider fishing lucrative. Thus, the survival of Newtown Fisheries depended on new membership and a fresh approach.
In 2005 Newtown Fisheries Co-operative acquired the use of Roseau Fish Market with the help of Mr. Nigel Lawrence. Newtown Fisheries Co-operative was considered the best Co-op to run the Roseau Fish Market because of its good record. They were to find their own capital to buy fish, but were able to set up Roseau Fish Market. Presently Newtown Fisheries Co-operative sells a variety of quality fish including Tuna, Dolphin, Marlin, Red fish, Salmon, Kawang, Flying fish, Lobster and Squid. Other products and services are also offered such as crushed ice, bone meal, fish cleaning, packaging, storage and band saw cutting.
Newtown Fisheries Co-operative membership has increased by 35 in 2011. Older members include: Cecil Bertrand, Ronald Charles, Albert Mendes, Ivan Mitchel, John Riviere and Hypolite Xavier.