Without Law Enforcement, there can be no order.
Date: November 19th 2018
Shrimp trawling is regarded as the most unsustainable fishing practice. It decimates everything in its path leaving behind a marine desert. Illegal shrimp trawlers are once again openly violating and destroying the protected areas of the North Coast which are East of Saut D’eau Island and west of Saut d’Eau island at a distance outside of 2 nautical miles, “under cover of night”. This area is protected for our artisanal (pirogue) fisherfolk who have been complaining for the past 21 years that these trawlers are pillaging our seas and their livelihood.
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) have annually reported these renegade shrimp trawlers who are brazenly flouting the Law by scraping and destroying the protected spawning/ banking grounds … day after day.
Our Fisheries Officers stipulate that the Coast Guard must catch shrimp trawlers in the act with their nets in the water and a fisheries officer must be on board at the time of interdiction. However, when trawlers gain sight of the Coast Guard exiting the First Bocas, they raise their nets out of the water, sit back and evade prosecution. Even when trawlers are caught (as in the case of the December 2014, where three vessels were held), they were not even prosecuted. Are our Laws written to fail?
These important spawning grounds are rendered lifeless. Our already over-exploited benthic organisms and juvenile fish are on the brink of collapse while our fishing communities are left impoverished.
These lawless, uncontrollable shrimp trawlers have been ravaging our seafloor ecosystems for far too long. While trawler captains boast that “no one can stop us”, FFOS ask where is the Law and Order?
FFOS call on the Senior Coast Guard officers who own shrimp trawlers that flout the law to immediately resign from this honourable service. Where is our Fisheries Division? How are we to protect our vulnerable, voiceless communities if our territorial waters are not being monitored for all types of illegal activity (including illegal shrimp trawling)?
FFOS respectfully calls on the Right Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to act in defence of our vulnerable communities rather than continue to abandon them.
What is the Rowley Administration’s legislative agenda? The draft 2018 Fisheries Bill, does not even address shrimp trawling and has been gathering dust for the past two decades. When one law is hoodwinked, every single law in every corner of the country is weakened. Please Dr. Rowley please…. what are you waiting for?
Gary Aboud Corporate Secretary Fishermen and Friends of the Sea