by Kaygianna Toussaint Charlery – Operations Manager, Goodwill Fishermen’s Co-operative Society Limited
On Saturday November 14 2020, we were alerted via the grapevine that a fishing vessel in St Vincent had been accosted on the open seas by a fishing vessel identified as having Venezuelans on it that demanded money and other wares.
Upon receipt of that information, inquiries were made via the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations (CNFO)communication outlet where two Vincentian counterparts including the President of the St Vincent Fisherfolk Organisation confirmed that this had indeed occurred.
This prompted us to disseminate that information, of a word of caution, to the fishing community and the Department of Fisheries, the Marine unit, e.t.c. for prompt intervention.
Through the network, the Regional Security System (RSS) was informed accordingly.
As much as this is not a novel problem, it is a serious problem. It’s already a daunting task for fisherfolk as the job in itself is a risky one.
Battling with all the new challenges of climate change and more recently the challenges posed by the Covid19 pandemic, it’s sore to now have to be fearful for your life at the hands of pirates.
According to the account from the fishers who fell victim, they fearfully gave up their GPS, phones, money, e.t.c in exchange for their life because they were forced to as threats of kidnapping in exchange for a ransom were made by the Venezuelans.
This is indeed an unfortunate situation and we are therefore calling on the fisherfolk to be vigilant, to be aware and to as much as possible remain safe.
More importantly though, we are calling on the necessary authorities within the region to work together to make our shared space safe for its users as the fishing industry is very important to our economies and our people.
I take this opportunity to thank all those who have over the last few days worked tirelessly to either inform and encourage the fishers, alert the authorities, e.t.c, all in a labor of love for the sector. Let us all continue to be vigilant as together we can overcome.