Forget politics, fix our fishing depot

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HARD WORK: Fishermen at Carli Bay in Couva pull in their seine with the catch of the day on Friday. – Marvin Hamilton

Carli Bay fishermen are angry with their local government representatives and the Government for neglecting their fishing depot over the past 15 years.

The site, in Couva, not only caters for fishermen but also serves as a recreational facility for many activities in the community.

Speaking with Newsday on Friday, fisherman Patrick Foster said they were fed up with the politics between their fishing council, local representatives and the relevant ministry over securing the area.

“Since I know myself, this has been my home, this has been my livelihood, and now it is being threatened, and the people we have in authority to protect us are not doing anything,” he said angrily.

Speaking on behalf of the fishermen, he said a lack of infrastructure and safety were major concerns of the men who use the facility daily to support their families.

He said they wanted to speak freely without interference from their association’s president, local government councillor and MP, because they felt they were being used for political mileage.

His comments came after the fishing boats of Naresh Popal and Wayne Ali were burnt in what police believed was an arson attack on Monday.

MP for the area Ravi Ratiram subsequently visited and called on the National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds to set up a Coast Guard base and other security measures.

He then criticised the Government, saying it did not care about fishermen and farmers.

Foster said while the people of the area appreciated the voice added to their calls it was not enough to implement action.

He said, “We do not have adequate lighting. You can’t even see your hands in the night. When we are coming back from our catch, we can’t even see who is on land, so it is risky because we don’t know who is here waiting to rob us. We believe a police post will help significantly.

“We need cameras. Just on Monday two boats were burnt, and people continue to lose their businesses. This is our livelihood; we can’t just start over. All our money we have invested in boats, nets and engines.”

The fishermen also called on the authorities for a proper jetty, saying they were willing to help build it.

Foster said every day they were faced with the challenge of waiting out at sea until the tides rose so they could bring in their boats after a morning catch. Newsday arrived at Carli Bay on Friday around 11 am for an interview with the fishermen, but they had to remain out at sea for almost two hours.

Foster said this was a daily occurrence which could be avoided if there was a proper jetty.

He said they needed about 150 feet of jetty to operate effectively. He estimated the structure in place was almost 75 feet long, but it was not secure enough to use.

On Friday afternoonNewsday tried to reach local government councillor Alan Seepersad, chairman of the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo regional corporation Henry Awong and the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, but got no responses.

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