ANY fisherman caught undertaking human trafficking activities will have his fishing license suspended for a period of one year, according to a new set of conditions laid down by the government Thursday, after repealing statutory Instrument No 165A of 2020 that restricted fishermen from plying their trade for one week.
The decision by government to keep fishers from leaving port was greeted with uproar by them and galvanized them into action. They met with Prime Minister Allen Chastanet this week out of which came the following conditions:
Fisherfolk to work collaboratively with authorities to share information and adhere to new guidelines moving forward; all valid fishers can go to sea from 4am – 6pm daily commencing this week Thursday; at all times, captains must carry their vessel documents and fisher IDs; before leaving port, captains must contact the Vigie or Moule-a-Chique Lighthouses to provide relevant information; the number of people allowed to engage in fishing on the vessel will be in keeping with the number sanctioned as per the vessel registration certificate.
The meeting featured discussion on ways fishers and law enforcement can work together to better protect the nation’s borders amidst the high occurrences of illegal entry into the country. Fishing representatives offered solutions and were expected back at sea on Thursday 5th November 2020 following the above conditions.
According to the Prime Minister monitoring the movement of vessels will assist greatly in controlling borders. A GPS system is soon to be a reality for fishers and will be part of fishing license holder’s agreement. In the meantime, a plea is being made for fisherfolks to join the fight to protect Saint Lucia’s borders.
“This is our war to lose, this is our war to win. If we have to keep our borders open and persons working, we must stop this community spread. We know that restrictions put in place cause hardship on certain sectors, but we must all work together for the greater good to protect the vulnerable in our society,” Chastanet said.
The Statutory Instrument to guide the new protocols was gazetted on Wednesday November 4th 2020 and came into effect Thursday November 5th 2020.
Present at the meeting held at the Finance Administrative Centre were Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet, officials of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) including the Commissioner of Police Severin Moncherry, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Natural Resources and Co-operatives Honourable Ezechiel Joseph, Minister for Home Affairs, Justice and National Security Senator Honourable Hermangild Francis, Minister of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development Honourable Dr. Gale Rigobert, Head of the Command Centre and Minister of Tourism Honourable Dominic Fedee and the Attorney General Stephen Julien.
Meanwhile the opposition Saint Lucia labour Party complimented fishers for standing up to the government, saying they were courageous.
“Today hundreds of Saint Lucian fisherfolk across the fishing ports and bays of Saint Lucia have set out to sea to pursue their trade, following their resistance to an arbitrary piece of legislation by the Government which barred them from fishing for seven days,” wrote the SLP in a statement.
“The Saint Lucia Labour Party compliments the fishing community for standing up to the dictatorial action of the Prime Minister and his Government and forcing them to reverse a policy that would have further damaged the economic livelihoods of a significant sector of the community,” the party release noted, adding that the party will continue to stand in solidarity with the fisherfolk because the Party is committed to putting people first.
“This incident has underscored the value of consultation with the people as a vital element of good governance- something which the Prime Minister has disdainfully avoided since he assumed office. In that regard the Saint Lucia Labour Party again calls on the Government for meaningful engagement with all relevant stakeholders to arrive at more sensible, effective and non-discriminatory policies to combat the COVID- 19 Pandemic.,” the SLP wrote.