FISHERIES OFFICIALS TO DETERMINE WHETHER BAJANS OVERFISHING IN TOBAGO WATERS
By Jenique Belgrave
Officials from the Barbados and Tobago fisheries divisions are expected to meet to look into whether there has been overfishing in the latter’s territorial waters.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley told the media on Wednesday that she has agreed with Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley that the complaints of Tobagonian fishermen will be investigated.
Last week, All Tobago Fisherfolk Association’s (ATFA) president Curtis Douglas sent a letter to Dr Rowley claiming that Barbadian fishermen were overfishing flying fish in their waters “causing fish processors in Tobago to go out of business and the employees sent home”.
While giving no exact timeline on when the fisheries officials will meet, Mottley insisted that there is no tension between the two CARICOM states.
“Prime Minister Rowley and I have agreed that there is no way that we can tell if there has been overfishing. We do not believe so. My minister and his department have told me that, but I can’t be adamant and they can’t be adamant. So let the two fisheries departments meet and let them come to a conclusion based on the science and the evidence available.
“Our relationship is deep and it continues to be extremely collegiate and friendly and there is no tension,” she said, while speaking at the Accra Beach Hotel following the opening of the Climate Services to Support Adaptation and Resilience in the Caribbean workshop.
On the matter of a fishing agreement, Mottley reminded persons of the right of Caribbean citizens to establish businesses in other regional territories.
“The issue is irrelevant when you have the fact that Barbadians can go into Tobago and set up a fish processing plant anytime tomorrow or today, in the same way that Trinidadians can come here and establish a hotel right where we are now standing. The right of establishment under the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas gives any Caribbean person who lives in a country that is signatory to it, the right to go and set up a business anywhere.
“Now we may have to help some of the fishermen if they want to do that, but the bigger issue is that there are some issues with the sargassum seaweed and the flying fish. Let the fisheries department do their work..If we can get an agreement that deals with conservation and management of stock and preventing overfishing, then that is in the interest of all of us,” she said.