L to R - Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds MP, and Member of Parliament for Couva North, Ravi Ratiram MP, recently discussed security issues affecting fishermen. (Images courtesy Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago)

Member of Parliament for Couva North, Ravi Ratiram MP, is describing as fruitful, discussions held yesterday with the Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds MP, concerning increasing attacks on fishermen at sea.

In addition to Minister Hinds and MP Ratiram, the heads of fishing associations were present at the meeting—Imitaz Khan, President of the Carli Bay Fishing Association, and Necolson Seecharan, President of the Claxton Bay Fishing Association.  Also present were national security ministry officials, as well as representatives of the Trinidad & Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) and the Trinidad & Tobago Police Service (TTPS).

An official statement from MP Ratiram notes that the Minister and his team have given a commitment to addressing the concerns raised by the MP and the fishing associations, outlined in 10 key recommendations.

“It was evident that there is a lot of outstanding work to be addressed and I do hope that the discussions will bring about some positive outcomes,” the Couva North MP stated.

He added: “It is certainly a work in progress that we will continue to pursue to ensure that the challenges faced by our fishermen are alleviated, so that no more lives or livelihoods are lost.”

The following are the 10 recommendations presented by the MP and the fishing associations:

●   Establishment of TTCG/TTPS bases in Central Trinidad (Carli Bay Fishing Facility) and on the North, South, East and West coasts of Trinidad, to decrease the response time to emergencies and to increase the TTCG presence.  The Fisheries Division (who were present at these meetings) had indicated their willingness to partner with National Security to identify spaces at the various fish landing sites

●   Construction of a security booth at Carli Bay Fishing Facility

●   Installation of CCTV cameras at Carli Bay Fishing Facility

●   Coordinating with the Ministry of Public Utilities to improve lighting at the Carli Bay Fishing Facility

●   Emergency repair of TTCG interceptors that can operate in the shallow Gulf of Paria (promised since November 2018)

●   Ministry of National Security to partner with various registered fishing associations to provide GPS trackers for vessels and engines

●   An established procedure for fishermen to apply for permits to purchase flare launchers

●   A photographic log of all registered fishing vessels in T&T to be developed and lodged at the TTCG and TTPS

●   A mandatory fishing voyage notification procedure to alert TTCG

●   A functional radar system, as a matter of urgency