Fishers Meet PM Amid Uproar Over Suspension Of Their Licenses

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A group of fishers travelled from the South of Saint Lucia Monday for an audience with Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, to discuss the temporary suspension of their licenses.

A Statutory Instrument published in the Official Gazette on Friday, October 30, 2020, essentially restricts local fishermen from leaving port for seven days, from Monday, November 2 to Sunday, November 8, 2020.

The government implemented the measure for border-control reasons related to COVID 19, specifically to prevent persons entering Saint Lucia from Martinique which is currently in lockdown mode.

Fishers told reporters that the move by the government has caused an uproar in the fishing industry.

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Kurthany Cherry explained that on learning of the Statutory Instrument prohibiting fishers from leaving any designated port, there was much anxiety in the fishing community.

“We journeyed down to Castries this morning to see who we could have met. Luckily we did get an audience with the Honourable Prime Minister,” the spokesman for the group of  fishers explained.

He said the delegation of fishers met the PM for about 40 minutes to explain their concerns.

Cherry said in turn, Chastanet explained the concerns of the government, the medical fraternity and the police.

According to Cherry, the PM gave the assurance that the concerns of the fishers will be looked into.

He disclosed that another meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday morning at 8.30 am where it is expected that a wider cross-section of fishers will be present.

Cherry told reporters that at Tuesday’s meeting, fishers will be putting forward their recommendations with the hope that by Wednesday, their concerns will be addressed.

He made it clear that fishers understand the need to protect the country’s borders.

But Cherry asserted that legitimate fishers are not the issue.

He  revealed that in addition to the PM, the Police Commissioner and fishers, representatives of the telecommunications company Digicel will also be present at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Digicel is coming in with a GPS system for registered fishers that when we go out, if in case we get lost at sea, the GPS can be used to find us and it’s a way of detecting where registered fishermen are within our borders,” Cherry stated.

He said the fishers hope to discuss other outstanding issues at Tuesday’s meeting, including duty free concessions for vehicles and engines and the upgrading of different ports.

Cherry expressed the hope that ‘something concrete’ would come out of Tuesday’s talks.

He explained that there are several options available to fishers, who wanted dialogue first.

Cherry however expressed confidence that based on the preliminary talks with the Prime Minister, something will be arranged for fishers to go back to sea.

He was of the view that the Allen Chastanet administration could have waited to have dialogue with fishers before announcing the suspension of fishing licenses.

Cherry noted that fishing is a $30 million industry.

He said  citizens, restaurants, hotels and other establishments buy fish.

Cherry told reports that the suspension of fishing licenses will have a negative impact, as  last week there were three or four days of bad weather where fishers were unable to go out to sea.

Headline photo caption: Fishers pose for photo outside the government buildings on the Castries Waterfront.

 

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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