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THA accuses ministry of running illegal fisheries

The Ministry of Tobago Development has been accused of illegally running a parallel fishing data-collection system among Tobago’s fisherfolk.

In a statement Friday from the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), assemblyman Hayden Spencer, assistant secretary in the Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment, said the ministry was carrying out this exercise contrary to the Fifth Schedule of the THA Act which gives the Assembly the sole authority for fisheries. He added that the Assembly’s Legal Department was looking into the matter.

Spencer, who was speaking at the weekly THA post-Executive Council media briefing in Scarborough on Wednesday stressed: “I want to make it very clear that, under the Fifth Schedule, the Assembly is responsible for fisheries. I am therefore urging and pleading with not just the members of the community but also the Tobago Development Ministry: you are causing a conflict. The Tobago House of Assembly has the responsibility to develop the fishing industry in Tobago.”

He said the division had recently increased the number of data-collection officers to 23 to serve all the island’s landing sites, and that this parallel operation, as well as being illegal, is also causing some confusion among the fisherfolk.

The ministry has also been accused of carrying out parallel programmes in reforestation and CEPEP.

Spencer added that the new Lambeau fishing facility on Milford Road will be completed next week and hopes that it will begin operating by the end of August.

It was also announced at the media briefing that two officials from German company Berth Hammers, who are coming to complete the $12 million refurbishment of the Mondo track at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, have been delayed in Miami due to visa requirements.

The two, along with a third person are needed to mark the athletic track which was re-laid earlier this year by Berth Hammers and local contractor Fitness Centre Limited.

Assistant Secretary in the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport Assemblyman Jomo Pitt said officials of the Sports Company of T&T have been communicating with the Consul General in Miami to resolve the matter. He also said the track marking to meet IAAF requirements is expected to take a week.

Pitt also announced that he will be going to St Kitts this week with the local basketball team to initiate discussions for an exchange programme similar to the one undertaken in football, and that arrangements are being made with the T&T Football Association to stage a football match in September involving the Guadeloupe senior team.

He said last week the Tobago House of Assembly presented a cheque for $325,000 to the Tobago Football Association to assist in meeting its commitment for prizes in their 2015 competition.

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