Enforce the bans
The bans now in force on wildlife hunting and sea food trawling have long been on the cards.
Over the years, anxieties that some species were being hunted into extinction coincided with crusading concerns about terminal depletion of fish stocks through use of nets recklessly dragging the sea floor around Trinidad and Tobago.
Non-governmental organisations that long championed conservation over land and sea have finally gained official attention to the extent of securing regulatory responses.
Since the effect inevitably hurts the interests of “wild meat” providers and of sea food suppliers, their public protests only are to be expected, with the members of one hunting association this week displaying bumper stickers with the slogan, “Madame PM, No hunting, No vote”.
It is for the Government, with the support of NGOs, to defend the bans by showing how they are in the long-term best interest of T&T as a whole.
With a temporary ban on human predators, forest populations of deer, agouti, lappe, tattoo and other prized game should be able to expand.
Cessation of trawling should have similarly positive effects for the future of our sea food industry. Especially so, if such regulation includes controls on seismic survey activities that drive away fish and damage the fishing industry.
The advisability of restricting present exploitation to preserve hope for sustainable future development should be made clear to the public, for there is little doubt that at the current rate of depletion some species would soon be just a memory.
The hunters may threaten to withhold their vote, or put their X in another box, but any responsible political party should see the benefit of such a moratorium and also enforce it, to ensure that future generations would have the privilege of seeing wildlife throughout both islands.
No one group has a sacred right to anything in this country, so while the hunters may feel they are being targeted, they should acknowledge that many people go into our forests and swamps, along with a fair share of visitors from abroad, not to hunt down these animals but to take photographs and marvel at them in their natural habitat.
When Minister Ganga Singh announced his plan for a moratorium earlier this week, one comment on the Express website read: “People can live without wild meat for two years. Nobody is going to starve or be put out of work. The wildlife needs time to replenish itself.”
There may actually be some people who do make a living from the trade in wild meat, but they too must consider the long-term benefits of such action.
The debate may be too heated at present but it is even worth looking into implementing such a moratorium every ten or 15 years, the last one having been put in place back in 1987-’89.
It is up to the Government and its various agencies to enforce this ban and ensure that it is not all hot air on the part of the minister.
It is no use putting such a ban in place without rigorously enforcing it.