Maritime Consultant with the Ministry of Tourism, Cuthbert Didier, has told the Times that he is not surprised at the number of local fishermen who go missing every year.
Didier recalled that during the Easter weekend he went to Martinique via a 27-foot boat, then on to Dominica.
“The seas were very rough – we had about four to six meter waves in the channel,” he recounted.
Didier said the vessel on which he was travelling passed a number of fishermen in distress.
“The alarming thing was that they did not have any VHF radios, compasses, no cell phones – they had absolutely no equipment, but they were venturing into some very dangerous waters,” the Maritime Consultant observed.
The Maritime Consultant said he was not surprised that a great majority of local fishermen get lost.
Didier expressed the view that a level of enforcement is needed.
But he also said it was an issue of personal responsibility.
“If fishing is one’s livelihood then one would expect a fisherman first of all to have life jackets, VHF radios, flare guns and paint their vessels a certain colour to stand out in the distance, but more importantly to have homing devices to indicate where you are and where you are heading,” Didier observed.
While acknowledging the need for enforcement or an agency to vet the fishermen when they go out, he asserted that the ultimate responsibility must lie with the fishermen.
Just this week the Marine Police Unit disclosed that a fishing boat from Anse La Raye with two men on board had been spotted by a French search and rescue aircraft, after the vessel had been reported missing.
The men were airlifted to hospital in Martinique while the vessel was abandoned.
The two are expected back in Saint Lucia shortly.