Diplomats are set to return to the waters between neighbours Trinidad and Tobago – revisiting co-fishing procedures that have proved as elusive as the flying fish stocks trawled by fisherfolk.
Barbados’ CARICOM Ambassador-designate David Comissiong has signalled his intention to focus on a protocol for common procedures relating to the arrest of crew, or detention of fishing vessels, in each other’s country’s territorial waters.
But he first has to do his homework, as he takes a “bite-size” approach to dealing with some of the seemingly intractable problems of regional integration, he suggested to Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
“I haven’t done any research on it [agreement]. It is part of my responsibility to deal with fishing and maritime delimitation and all of that. I will have to look into the whole files and get myself up to date with it,” Comissiong said in a brief comment, adding that with lots of issues on his plate right now, particularly the free movement of CARICOM nationals.
“I plan to take this CARICOM portfolio in different bites at a time otherwise you could get lost in these CARICOM issues with so many things coming at you at one time and you could end up achieving very little,” he said.
Comissiong said he would also need to speak with the national fisherfolk organization so he could be apprised of how the protocol was working. “I have to speak with the fisherfolk association to find out what is going on,” he added.
The diplomat said he wanted to fully address the current CARICOM Skilled Nationals Programme which he called a news conference yesterday to discuss. He revealed that he held discussions today with representatives of the Coalition of Service Providers and the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) on the movement of skilled Barbadians across the region.
“I want to pin these things down . . . that our artistes, our musicians and our service providers get to participate properly. I will try to make it work. But I have to start looking at those files on fishing matters and get up to speed on it,” he pledged. “The protocol seeks to put in place agreed common procedures that will be applied whenever the crew and fishing vessels of one State are apprehended for fishing illegally in the waters of the other State,” Trinidad and Tobago Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran said back in December 2014.
Dookeran signed on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago while Bridgetown’s non-resident ambassador to Port of Spain Robert Morris signed on his country’s behalf then.
Dookeran had also noted that his government was aware that Barbados considers the conclusion of a fishing agreement an important part of the bilateral agenda between the two countries, and would work with the Barbadian authorities to make this possible.According to the protocol, where a crew is arrested, or a fishing vessel detained, both parties shall maintain a log of events pertaining to the arrest, or detention. Within 48 hours of the docking of a detained vessel, the detaining State shall provide information to the other State, including registration or licence number of the fishing vessel, date and time of detention, coordinates of the location where the vessel was fishing, and the numbers or weight, and the type of fish on the vessel when detained. Before the protocol, the arrest of Barbadian fishermen had been commonplace for several years as Trinidad and Tobago’s coast guard seized boats found fishing illegally in Trinidad waters. (EJ)