Local authorities have implemented a Vessel Monitoring Device to assist fishers with maintaining more safety measures while at sea.
The initiative was recently launched in Vieux Fort and is expected to be spread within other communities island-wide.
According to Minister for Agriculture Alfred P. Prospere, government is keen on looking after the welfare of the country’s fishers and view this device as an integral part of providing security to fishers, while they are out in open waters to ply their trade.
“My Ministry has begun the installation of the Vessel Monitoring Device for fishers. About two years ago we commenced the project to assist the fishers …and it’s actually a device that is placed on the boat, so when fishermen encounter difficulties at sea, they can be located on the device through information transmitted to Digicel,” Prospere told reporters at a media brief, Monday.
Recalling the recent issue about two southern fishermen reportedly missing at sea, the minster noted, “We are well aware of the recent situation in Vieux Fort …where two fishermen have been missing for weeks and in the past (too), many of them have gone missing. And sometimes they are very close to our shores, but because we have difficulty locating them they sometimes perish at sea.”
Added Prospere: “The Vessel Monitoring Device is one way of us actually controlling (monitoring) that and preventing that from happening. Because, obviously we know the risk that they take each day; they go out to venture at sea and sometimes they go very far and we really cannot contact them.
“So, we have begun the installation of this device in Vieux Fort, last week, we are continuing to Savannes Bay and we are going throughout the communities to ensure that we place those devices on a boat.”
However, said Prospere, “Those devices are (to be used) voluntarily and we are not forcing any fisher folk or any boat owner to place it on their boats …because there are reasons why some of them will not want to have it installed on their boats.
“We want to appeal to all fishers of Saint Lucia, to all the boat owners of Saint Lucia to understand the significance and the importance of that device. How it can save our fishermen’s lives, how we can protect them and assist us in locating them when they go through this stress at sea.”