PM Apologises To Fishers Over Controversial Suspension Of Licenses

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Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says he has apologised to fishers over when he described as the ‘abrupt’ one-week suspension of fishing licenses.

The fishers are due to go back to work on Thursday.

The suspension of the licenses was intended to assist in halting the spread of COVID-19 by preventing the illegal entry of people into Saint Lucia from neighbouring Martinique.

Martinique is currently on lockdown as cases of the virus continue to rise there.

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“I have apologised to the fisherfolk because there probably should have been an immediate consultation with them,” Chastanet said of the decision to implement the one-week license suspension.

Addressing reporters Tuesday after a second round of talks with fishers, the PM said the gathering, which also included the police and other stakeholders, looked at the matter in a holistic way.

“I am very satisfied that we were able to come to a consensus on the best way forward,” he stated.

A Government Information Service (GIS) release on the meeting indicated that acknowledging the importance of the fishing sector, its contribution to the local economy and food security, Government has decided allow fishers to resume their trade, but only between the hours of 4 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily.

Captains or owners of fishing vessels must share information on the vessel with the Marine Police, while the Vigie Lighthouse must also be furnished with all relevant information when a vessel is leaving port.

In addition, no more than three people are allowed on board a vessel.
A release from the Office of the Prime Minister stated that  anyone caught undertaking human trafficking activities will have their fishing licence suspended for one year.
The new measures come into effect on Thursday.
“We are going to continue revisiting the protocols and for the next three weeks, reduce the hours they are allowed to go out to sea, while we consider additional medium to long-term solutions,” the GIS quoted Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Natural Resources and Co-operatives, Ezechiel Joseph, as saying.
He said he was happy that the matter of the suspension of fishing licenses has been resolved.
“Whilst we were told that 95, 96 percent of our fishermen are listening to  the government and doing things legally, it’s the four to five percent that are creating problems for us and it’s the four to five percent we have to see how we can manage,” Joseph declared.
Headline photo credit: Random Institute

 

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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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