Vice President of the All Tobago Fisherfolk Association (ATFA) Curtis Douglas has thanked the THA Division of Food Production, Forestry and Fisheries for addressing concerns over the legality of fishing amid the second lockdown. In the same breath, however, the fishermen chastised officials for not clearing up their concerns sooner.
On Wednesday, the division, in a press releas,e advised the public that fisherfolk are still permitted to ply their trade. It noted that until further advised, fisherfolk are allowed to engage in commercial fishing, vending of catch and fishing-related activities without violating the regulation put in place by the Prime Minister on August 17, which makes it an offence for any person to be found at or in any beach, bay, river, stream, pond, spring or any public pool for recreational purposes.
Since Dr Rowley’s news conference, members of ATFA were calling for some clarity, asking whether fishermen were still allowed at sea or not.
Speaking with Newsday, Douglas said, “What they’re saying, basically, is that it’s okay to fish. This is what should have been done in the first place.
“When you’re making those decisions, you have to take everything into consideration because what you do would affect home and families, remember this is our livelihood. It seems to me that they didn’t understand the role and the function of the fisherfolk in Trinidad and Tobago, more so Tobago. So, we welcome it because it have fishermen were saying this is our livelihood and we are going to sea, if they want to lock us up... we were going ahead.”
He said the division took too long to respond.
“They took their sweet time in responding to the cries of the fishermen in Tobago, more than their sweet time. Even the Chief Secretary took more than his sweet time and this is what we’re talking about when we say representation for Tobago. No one , not even the MPs have stood up for us and that is what their roles and functions should be... to stand up, to bring clarity when necessary and to fight for Tobagonians,” he said.
In the interim, Douglas said fishermen continue to ply their trade observing all the covid19-related guidelines, which also includes no large gatherings.