For some time now, I have been speaking to fishermen throughout the coasts of Trinidad, and they have all lamented the drastic decline in fish stocks.
Yet for some strange and unknown reason, the relevant Government ministry has allowed trawling within our waters—even after knowing the devastating effects such a practice has on the environment. The relevant legislation to protect fisheries, known as the Draft Fisheries Management Bill of 2011, is yet not tabled in Parliament, and as such, in 2013, we are being governed by the Fisheries Act of 1916 (amended in 1975).
Why is it that on an island, it is cheaper to buy imported chicken and beef than to buy fresh, local fish?
If we have more fish in the sea and subsequently in the market, there can be more processing and even exportation of fish products. More fish means more businesses and employment in various forms for locals. Tourists can then enjoy our many seafood dishes that can only be savoured in T&T. We can also market line-fishing as a tourist attraction, but all this potential is based upon having abundant fish stocks and visionary leaders.
While our politicians try to decipher their "foot from their elbow", our fish stocks are depleting further and our citizens are paying the price.