The All Tobago Fisherfolk Association (ATFA) on Monday called on the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to provide it with a rescue boat.
The call came the day after Castara fishermen rescued their peers who were stranded at sea off Speyside in a 110-foot fishing boat, captained by Donald Ladee, for more than 12 hours.
The fishermen claimed they had called the Coast Guard for help but were told they could not assist.
ATFA president Curtis Douglas told Newsday, "We got a call early in the wee hours of Sunday morning that a boat was in distress. They said they had called the Coast Guard to no avail – no help, no assistance."
Quashie said a disaster was averted, as an industrial sandbag had got caught in the boat's propeller and stalled the engine. The boat was drifting towards a rocky area and could have been badly damaged and sunk.
"So Mr Junior Quashie (ex-ATFA president) organised a group of guys – (Kibwe) Walker and this team – to help these guys to free them. If that had persisted, it would be a colossal damage to them and marine life, which we preserve in Tobago.
"We continue to do our part to help each other in this industry.
"But it seems to us, no matter what we do and say we can't get help from Coast Guard. We are calling on the authorities to grant us our own private rescue boat, through ATFA, so we could deal with these urgent matters when they arise."
Weighing in on the issue, Assemblyman for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside Farley Augustine commended the fisherfolk of Castara, but called for the Coast Guard to get its act together.
Augustine said this was not the first time that Walker and his team had come to the rescue of other fishermen.
A few years ago, he said, Tobago fishermen anchored their boats in the harbour in Scarborough to protest the Coast Guard ignoring their plight. He said the protest was led by Quashie.
Augustine said, during the 2021 THA election campaign he spoke about the experience of a Speyside fisherman who had been stranded at sea, but got no help from the Coast Guard.
“He had to struggle with his boat engine and luckily, he made it home alive."
Augustine added, “This neglect has been ongoing for too long. Security is under the ambit of the Central Government and the THA has no legal authority. But our fisherfolk and the development of our blue economy require a robust security apparatus.
"Instead, our fisherfolk are still calling Coast Guard and they are not answering their phones, and when they do answer, it is to say they have no vessel available. That is unacceptable.”