Mottley:Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados should talk on fishing dispute

Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley. -
Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley. -

BARBADOS prime minister Mia Mottley has suggested a fisheries meeting to address the ongoing dispute between Tobago fishermen and their Barbadian counterparts.

The conflict arose after Tobago fishermen accused Barbados fishermen of illegal fishing in Tobago's waters.

Mottley believes a fisheries meeting could help to resolve the issues between the two parties and ensure peaceful co-existence.

Speaking to the Barbados media after returning from the regional symposium on violence as a public health issue in Port of Spain, Mottley said there is no tension between the TT and Barbados governments over the issue.

She added: “There was a concern that was raised by Tobagonian fishermen, as I understand it, from PM Rowley.

“What PM Rowley and I have agreed is that there is no way that either the two of us can tell you whether there has been overfishing. We do not believe so. My minister and his department has told me that.

"But I cannot be adamant and they cannot be adamant. Let the fisheries departments meet and let them come to the conclusion based on the science and evidence available.”

Dr Shellyann Cox, head of Barbados’ fisheries, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Nigel Taitt Assistant Secretary in the Division of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development – with responsibility for fisheries – told Newsday he is open to discussions to have the dispute resolved.

Last week, Curtis Douglas president of the All Tobago Fisherfolk Association (ATFA), accused Barbados fishermen of overfishing in Tobago waters.

Speaking to Newsday on April 11, Douglas claimed Barbados fishermen have been stifling Tobago’s fishing industry and creating hardship in its economy.

“They are coming and catching the flying fish and making it harder for us to catch flying fish or even dolphin, tuna and other kinds of fish. I am saying it’s creating economical strain on us Tobagonians and the fisherfolk.

“AFTA is just here seeing the hardship coming on us and nobody is paying attention.”

He said if Barbados fishermen continue to benefit from Tobago’s resources, there must at least be a system in which Tobago’s economy benefits from it.

Last Wednesday Douglas wrote to the Office of the Prime Minister. He promised to take action against Barbados fishermen if the government fails to intervene.

Contacted for comment after Motley’s response, Douglas said AFTA is open to dialogue, but added, “I am disappointed that we are yet to get a response from our chief secretary and prime minister. It’s a shame.”

President of the Barbados National Union of Fisherfolk Organisation Vernel Nicholls had no comment when contacted by phone on April 11. She said she would only comment when her government publicly addressed the issue.

But in a follow-up interview on Thursday Nicholls had no comment on the matter or on what her prime minister had to say.

A statement from her association is expected to be released soon.


"Mottley:Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados should talk on fishing dispute"

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