Praslin fishermen are frustrated over what has been described as an escalation in thefts of their fish pots.
Fisherman Bernard Francis told St Lucia Times Saturday that previously, persons would raise the fish pots that had been lowered in the sea to catch fish and lobsters and remove the catch.
However, he explained that in recent time the buoys are were specially painted in the unique style of their owner for easy identification and attached to the fish pots have been removed and the pots relocated after new buoys are attached to them.
According to Francis, to construct a fish pot is very costly.
“A roll of wire is between six and seven hundred dollars,” he observed, adding that with a roll of wire a fisherman can make approximately five fish pots.
Francis disclosed that some 20 fishermen in Praslin are affected by the thefts.
“Praslin is one of the communities in Saint Lucia that makes the most pots on a yearly basis – one vessel would have, the minimum you would have is about 30 pots. Some guys have up to about 100 pots,” he stated.
“You would catch say, three lobsters per pot and at least five pounds of fish per pot, so if you have 10 pots, you know you have 30 lobsters and 50 pounds of fish. On that you can actually make a budget to take care of your family. But when the guys interfere with that, it is putting you off. You can’t pay your loans, you can’t pay your bills.”
Francis lamented that to make matters worse, the affected fishermen lose the pots they have made and have to make new ones.
“If you can afford it, you have to buy new wire and make pots,” the Praslin fisherman told St Lucia Times.
He revealed that the fishermen who have had their fish pots stolen suspect who the thieves are and have reported their suspicions to the police.
Francis recalled actually catching someone in the act.
“We caught him and apprehended him on the sea. I should have taken him in, but I didn’t. He admitted to raising the pot and everything, so I told him when I went to shore I was going to make a report. I went to the station, made a report – nothing was done. They never even went and checked the guys.”
Francis said the report was made to the Dennery police station.
He expressed concern that the situation of fish pot thefts could get out of hand.
“That is what happened last year – it got nasty,” Francis recalled, adding that a fisherman rammed the boat of a man at sea whom he caught interfering with his fish pots.
He said the action resulted in the persons in the boat that was rammed being thrown overboard.
“They could have drowned,” Francis told St Lucia Times.