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Bharath: New laws to deal with depleted fish stock
Agriculture Minister Vasant Bharath says new fishing legislation is coming to help alleviate some of the issues facing the fishing industry, including a depleting fish stock as a result of illegal fishing. In a Thursday news report, Deoraj Seepersad, past president of the Otaheite Fishing Community, complained about a depleting fishing stock as fishermen try to meet the public’s demand for fish in the Lenten period.
Other fishermen from Mayaro and Tobago said that until their catch increases, the public would have to pay higher prices for fish. Bharath said illegal fishing was one of the issues that has contributed to the depletion of T&T’s fish stock. He was speaking on Friday to reporters during a welcome luncheon at the Carlton Savannah, St Ann’s for Indian scientist Dr Avvaru Sujatha, who’s in Trinidad for the next year to find a natural enemy to combat the red palmite pest that has been aggressively attacking local coconut industry.
Bharath admitted that the problems the fishing industry faced have existed for many years, that the outdated fishery legislation, dated 1916—almost 100 years ago—was part of the problem in finding solutions for the fishing industry’s woes. “Due to the old legislation, we are hamstrung to a large extent in terms of the action we can take regards to illegal fishing to trawlers who are fishing illegal in T&T and other countries who come to T&T to fish.”
He said new fishery legislation has been drafted and would be presented to the legislation review committee and be laid before Parliament within the next two months. Bharath explained that the new legislation would allow his ministry to implement new initiatives for the fisherfolk and the fishing sector. He said the ministry would continue its plan to refurbish all of the fish landing sites across T&T.
“We refurbished 11 fish landing sites last year and we plan to do another 11 this year. We would continue until we geographically complete all of the fishing ports in T&T.” Bharath said the refurbishment programme includes proper running water, refrigeration facilities and retail outlets close to ports and markets.
He explained that the Prices Council’s job is not to control prices, but monitor prices and alert the population if a produce is selling at a significantly higher price to deter them from buying at that particular location. “So the market forces would control prices until the Government can put in place the environment where consumers are protected,” Bharath said.
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