Barbados signs fishing protocol with Trinidad
It is not a done deal.
But Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago have now signed a fishing protocol, setting the foundation for the long awaited fishing agreement.
Commenting on the new arrangement he signed in Port of Spain on Tuesday with Trinidad’s Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, this island’s non-resident Ambassador to the twin island republic, Robert Bobby Morris, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that the protocol formalises common procedures related to the arrest of crew and detention of fishing vessels.
“What this protocol does is that it sets out best practices in terms of how you deal with these persons if they are found to be in your waters. One of the first things it does is to have a contact position, focal point in the consulate of the two countries, so that if anything happens they had to be informed,” Ambassador Morris said.
He also said it seeks to provide information on the coordinates of detained vessels, the time of capture, if persons were to be charged, the nature of the offences and where the suspects were going to be held.
It also details the amount and types of fish seized.
“It gives us an agreement in matters relating to fisheries, which [provides] the groundwork for now trying to go ahead with the long-mooted fishing agreement that lasted for one year between 1990 and 1991.”
Noting there were difficulties since then, ambassador Morris said the protocol now “leaves room for us to start back the negotiations trying to get a fishing agreement between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago”.
“What we are getting from the authorities [in Trinidad] is a willingness to start talking . . . but we have to look at the economics of the sea. In other words, the same discussion our Prime Minister is having about the blue economies for Caribbean development, Trinidad is talking about that.”
Morris said any new fishing agreement must consider the requirements of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy that allows for the free movement of capital, labour and services, as well as rights of establishment.
“These things were not there before 2006,” Morris noted, adding that there was reason for optimism.
However, he said the biggest hurdle was being able to allay fears that there would not be over-fishing.
“I think we have to rely on scientific calculation about how much fishing on an annual basis could be allowed and once we have an assurance that there would not be a depletion of the flying fish stock from our waters . . . I think that is going to be the number one thing,” added the ambassador.
He did not think there were any political issues standing in the way.
“I think the major thing is about conserving resources.”
Head of the Barbados National Union of Fisherfolk Organisations (BARNUFO), Vernell Nicholls was unavailable for comment.