Wednesday, October 5, 2022

SLP Condemns New Restrictions On Fishers, Warns Of ‘Biting Hardship’

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Press Release: The Saint Lucia Labour Party is calling for the immediate repeal of Statutory Instrument No. 165A of 2020 published in the official Gazette on Friday 30th October 2020, by the Government of St. Lucia, pursuant to Section 18 of the Covid-19 (Prevention and Control) Act which the Government had, only a few weeks before, hastily rushed through Parliament in the most questionable of ways.

This Statutory Instrument essentially restricts local fishermen from leaving port for seven days, from Monday November 2 to Sunday November 8, 2020, ostensibly for border control reasons related to COVID 19.

The Order was published shortly after the Prime Minister had mentioned at the end of a National Address and Press Conference on new measures to curb the spread of COVID 19, that there was “the likelihood, by Monday that we will be suspending licenses for fishermen to go out, for at least one week”.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party strongly condemns this action which is draconian, excessive,
without logic and good sense.

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It once again demonstrates that the current Prime Minister is absolutely apathetic and insensitive where ordinary Saint Lucian are concerned and that his Government continues to lack empathy for the poor and marginalized in our society.

Fishers are an important plank of our rural economy and support the livelihoods of hundreds of households.

Can’t the Prime Minister not comprehend what one week’s loss of income will
mean to them?

Does the Prime Minister not realize that the fisheries sector did not benefit from any
concessions as part of the COVID-19 Relief Programme; that, like the farmers, the fishers did not receive the promised $1,500 support for income loss?

Is the Prime Minister unable to comprehend that the sector continues to suffer from the Government’s “gas tax” for roads applied to their operations on the sea?

Why is the Government not sympathetic to a sector comprising in the main of courageous, hard-working, enterprising Saint Lucians?

This action against the fishers will only bring unnecessary and biting hardship to Saint Lucia’s fishing communities which are already reeling from the national economic contraction and from the Government’s closure of the Saint Lucia Fish Marketing Corporation and its hand over to private sector interests.

This has severely disadvantaged fishers who have had to resort to old ways to market their catch, while not fetching competitive prices.

Although the Prime Minister’s action against the fishers is being labelled as a border control
measure, it seems to be motivated instead by the need to maintain the “Backdoor” blame
narrative for the recent spike in COVID 19 cases as this deflects away from the inadequacies of “Front Door” protocols.

It is telling that one certified accommodation property has since recorded 7 cases of COVID-19 and that this hotel has not been shut for any length of time yet, instead, fishers – none of whom have tested positive for COVID-19, are being asked to stop their business operations.

This act of targeting local fishers again shows the Prime Minister’s blatant biases, preferences and misplaced priorities.

This country needs leadership that is not brutish, rash and without compassion but one that is prepared to consult and dialogue with its citizens.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party understands the need for additional measures to curb COVID 19 but urges the Government to provide more sensible, meaningful and non – discriminatory steps to combat its health and economic challenges, while properly guarding ALL doors, front and back.

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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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