5,000 to be affected by trawling restrictions
Carolyn Kissoon email@example.com
FOOD Production Minister Devant Maharaj has advised local trawlers to submit a proposal on sustainable fisheries management, following protests against restrictions on trawling in local waters.
Maharaj met several trawlers at the ministry's office in Port-of-Spain at the weekend.
Orange Valley Fishing Association president, Shaffie Mohammed, said the meeting was fruitful and trawlers agreed to submit a proposal by October 26.
"The Minister told us that we would meet on October 26th. He wants the fishermen and trawler owners to come up with a sustainable fisheries management plan. So they can take a look at it and decide what is the next step," he said.
Mohammed complained that no consultations were held with fishermen and trawlers before a decision was taken to restrict trawling.
"That (consultation) is what they should have done in the first place. We had no consultation at all and now it is a step backward. I think they are now doing the right thing, listening to the concerns of the trawler owners. They should have done this first and then based on the outcome then a decision could have been made and things put in place. But they just went and do it the wrong way," he said.
Mohammed said persons involved in the fishing industry were disappointed by the minister's actions, sparking protests.
He said directly and indirectly some 5,000 persons were affected by the ban.
"We have the boat owners, captains, crew, fish vendors, electricians, mechanic, hustlers and many others involved in the industry. We are pleased that the minister met with us on Saturday. We had a fruitful meeting, voiced our concerns and (Minister) listened. We look forward to something positive," he said.
Two weeks ago, Maharaj announced restrictions on trawling in local waters, in the face of declining seafood stocks and environmental damage caused by wide-range dragnets.
Maharaj disclosed in a media release that he has mandated a ban on trawling for non-artisanal trawlers; the implementation of a closed season for trawling activities; an amendment of regulations governing the Fisheries Act; and the appointment of a multi-sectorial committee to consider a relief package which can be offered to displaced fishers who will be affected by the change in legislation and the ban on trawling.
Trawling has earned a reputation for being vastly destructive and has been the subject of calls for it to be banned, locally and internationally.
The practice has been banned or restricted in several countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada and Malaysia.