Fishermen in Belle Garden, Tobago, are calling for a Mauritanian boat to be removed from Clark’s Bay.
On May 28, fishermen discovered the boat floating off Belle Garden carrying 14 decomposing bodies and other human remains. Since then, itl has remained onshore in the area, covered with a yellow tarpaulin.
The bodies were taken to the Forensic Science Centre in Trinidad.
Speaking with Newsday on Wednesday, one fisherman, Doyle Cornwall, again insisted the boat must be removed.
“We would really like if they can move the boat from here for us now – it has been long enough.”
He believes poses a serious health risk not only to the fishermen but also to the community.
“We en know what if any kind of disease can occur, but we just want to ensure safety.
“The rain falling now and when the sun gets hot, it giving a stench from the boat – they en wash out the boat or treat it with nothing. Just as how they brought in the boat, they just covered it up with the tarpaulin and that can’t really protect any water from going inside.”
He said since boat was discovered, no one has been in contact with the fishermen, and they are concerned about plans for it.
“The police, they would have asked certain questions at that time, but since then nobody really come back on the beach to ask nobody nothing or say anything.”
He said he had previously raised the issue with his electoral representative
Dr Faith BYisrael, but since then he has seen no attempt to rectify the situation.
“I don’t know how far she would have get with it."
Another fisherman, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he was willing to burn the boat.
“We really don’t want to pick it up on ourselves and burn it but that’s the only solution that we as the fishermen see at this time. That is the only solution because like nobody en want to move it.
“All they need to do is give me $11 – $10 for the gas and $1 for the matches; problem solved.”
One of the fishermen who helped bring the boat to shore said, “I’ve been crucified for assisting, and now just to get the boat to move, it’s an issue.
“The boat was coming to land – the boat was going either between Big Hole or Granby and would have come in and turned over.
"At the same time, doing the favour and bringing in the boat – I am a fisherman, I don’t know what would be my path out there. I would like to know if I die at sea, someone comes to my rescue and bring my body in to my family.
"Fishermen already do a favour by bringing it in, I think they can do back a favour by removing it.”
He said the boat was causing a real disturbance in the community
"Really and truly, moving the boat is a real simple thing to do.”
The fishermen are appealing to Director of Fisheries Garth Ottley to visit the bay and intervene on their behalf.
“We never see him yet – he never came and even spoke to the fishermen. Ottley needs to come to Belle Garden and at least talk to the fishermen, We want to know what next, We really need this vessel removed. Fishermen need to have a word with Ottley. We need Ottley in Belle Garden Bay to have a word with him.”
But Ottley said he was awaiting an official document from the police authorising the boat’s removal.
“I am waiting on correspondence from the police, I spoke with ACP Nurse, telling him that they need to send some correspondence to the division saying that the investigation is finished, and they are handing over the vessel to the division.
"We can’t do anything with the boat until we get that. I cannot do anything until the police says that they are finished with the investigation, that has to be in black and white. ”
Ottley said in the interim he would visit the fishermen.
“I have my officers in the different districts and they have never reported that the fishermen need to see me. But as long as my officers report such, I am really and willing to meet with them. I would go. These fishermen have never contacted me, but I would visit them on Thursday and see how best we can have this issue addressed.”
In a WhatsApp message, BYisrael appealed to the police “to please indicate if the criminal investigation has been completed and to therefore give official authorisation to possibly the Department of Fisheries, to have them remove the vessel from the beach as it is currently a serious health hazard.”
ACP Nurse could not be reached for comment as all calls to his cellphone went unanswered.
County Medical Officer of Health Dr Tiffany Hoyte said she was unable to take a call as she was dealing with an urgent issue with her staff.