The government is focused on the management and enforcement of hunting while providing the necessary resources that will allow bonafide hunters to enjoy the sport and allow rural communities to enjoy the economic benefits arising from it.
This was the declaration made to members of the Nariva Mayaro Hunters Group by Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat, during the opening of the 2016 hunting season on Saturday.
Rambharat said the government undertook the task of doing a comprehensive review of hunting and wildlife conservation in Trinidad and Tobago, and following its completion in August, several Cabinet-approved decision were made. One such decision was increasing the price of permits for hunting, while amendments were also made with regards to the wildlife that could be hunted.
"We have also made a commitment to go to Parliament and make the permanent legislative changes which are required; namely fixing the right fee for the permit; and more importantly increasing the fines for illegal hunting and illegal activities related to wildlife conservation.
"This season we are also committed to increasing the number of Honorary Game Wardens who will be appointed in a few weeks' time, and this would give us more comfort in terms of enforcement.
The Agriculture Minister's message to the hunters across the country was one of responsible hunting, saying, "'I trust the hunters and I believe that the bonafide hunters in the country will do the right thing and as always, I am particularly concerned about those people who engage in illegal hunting and illegal activities during the season. I am confident that the Wildlife Division within the ministry and the wider national security apparatus in the country will enforce the law and protect the hunters during the season."
Daren Ali, president of the Nariva Mayaro Hunters Group, said: "Today is like a Christmas celebration for us as we came out to the campsite, cook and celebrate. I was born and bred in a hunting family and hunting is something that we enjoy.
Ali pointed out that he personally did not have a problem with the increased price for the hunting permits. He also called on all hunters to responsible, urging them to be safe and to not break the rules and regulations.
Rambharat was joined by Senator Avinash Singh, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries.
The Wildlife Hunting Season opened on Saturday 1st October, 2016 and will close on Tuesday 28th February, 2017.