All fishing vessels would soon be mandated by law to have GPS tracking devices installed.
This was announced by Senator Clarence Rambharat, the Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries yesterday.
He was at the time addressing a ceremony for the Inter-Agency Memorandum of Understanding for Collaboration in Regulating Fishing and Fishing Related Activities and Relevant Trade, at the Ministry’s Chaguanas head offices at Narsaloo Ramaya Road.
Rambharat said the MOU would seek to control illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU Fishing) through different Government Ministries working together.
Rambharat said IUU Fishing can best be described as the money laundering of fishing unless the territorial waters are regulated.
He said the MOU would allow for the collection of valuable data relating to the source of the fish, the amount and the operators of fishing vessels and individuals involved in the industry.
The MOU was signed with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Tobago House of Assembly, the ministries of Finance, National Security, Trade and Industry and Works and Transport.
Rambharat said the fishing industry criss-crosses all these arms of the government.
He said some vessels are registered with the Ministry of Works and vessels under a specified size are not registered.
Rambharat said he expects to lay the proposed legislation, known as the Fisheries Management Bill, before the Lower House next month.
He said present legislation governing the industry is over 100 years old.
The minister said that under the new legislation all fishing vessels regardless of size would be registered and would be mandated by law to have a GPS tracking system.
He said this bill is before the Legislative Review Committee and would require support from the Opposition for its passage.
Rambharat said T&T has an open border that allows criminal elements to operate unchecked.
He said many criminals are posing as fishermen and using facilities to carry out their illicit trade.