Head of the Carli Bay Fishing Association, Imtiaz Khan said he is shocked by the silence of Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat on the plight of fishermen who continue to stay at home for fear of losing their lives while at sea.
Speaking to Guardian Media yesterday, Khan said he has heard not one word from Rambharat since five fishermen were murdered during a robbery at sea on July 22.
“It has been a very tough year for fishermen altogether, we had piracy, gas price increases, fishermen being murdered at sea and not even a word from the Minister of Agriculture, it is a sad state of affairs in this country,” Khan said.
He said before the murders, during a police town hall meeting in the Couva North constituency Police Commissioner Gary Griffith had promised to establish a Coastal Patrol Unit through the TTPS.
But since then, he said he heard that plan was delayed and now the fishermen must play the waiting game with their lives and their livelihoods.
“If the things we have been asking for all these years were provided, we would never be in this position. Fishermen in Orange Valley not going out to fish because it is not making sense to risk your life like that for a day’s pay.”
And with fear the determining factor in the fishing community, consumers will soon start to feel the backlash as Khan said the laws of supply and demand will take effect.
“When you don’t have a large amount on the market, the price for the fish that is being sold will go up and the customers will have to face it, a lot of people are not fishing in Orange Valley and Carli Bay.”
Contacted for comment, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat said the issue of the murdered fishermen is a “complex” one engaging the attention of the National Security Ministry.
He said if Khan or any of the fishing associations wanted to bring something to his attention, there are fishery officers attached to that area and they could use that avenue.
Rambharat said, however, he has been meeting with the National Security Ministry on several occasions to discuss the safety of the fishermen.
Guardian Media has reached out to the TT Coast Guard for an update on a Marine Patrol Unit but so far, no response has been forthcoming.