GPS Tracking Mandate For TT Fishing Vessels
Suppliers of GPS tracking devices for fishing vessels will soon have a captive opportunity to enlarge their customer base in Trinidad and Tobago.
The signal came when Clarence Rambharat, the TT Minister whose responsibilities include Fisheries, announced government plans to have all the country’s fishing vessels mandated to have GPS tracking devices installed by law.
Rambharat expects to bring the relevant legislation, known as the Fisheries Management Bill, to Parliament in September, 2019.
Rambharat made the announcement at the signing of an Inter-Agency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Collaboration in Regulating Fishing and Fishing Related Activities and Relevant Trade at his office in Chaguanas, central Trinidad on August 13, 2019.
According to data available on Trinidad and Tobago’s Fishery Country profile prepared by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN) in 2006 , artisanal vessels account for about 96 per cent of the country’s fishing fleet which also includes semi-industrial and industrial vessels.
The artisanal fleet includes those vessels between seven and nine metres in overall length and are usually open vessels, powered by outboard motors between 45 and 75 HP and operate on a day basis in the conduct of their fishing operations.
These vessels operate in inshore and coastal waters and are engaged in fishing methods such as the use of gillnets, fish traps, trolling, a-la-vive, and banking and manually operated demersal and pelagic long-lines.
Trinidad and Tobago is estimated as having 98 identifiable fishing sites.
The 2006 report estimated that 2,184 vessels (1500 in Trinidad and 684 in Tobago) were being operated in the artisanal fleet at that time.
In a later report prepared May 2018, the FAO estimated the country’s total artisanal fleet at 1,073 vessels (947 in Trinidad and 126 in Tobago).
According to the FAO: “The fishing industry has traditionally been an artisanal one, based on resources occurring in the coastal and territorial waters. There has however been a trend toward the development of larger, more industrial vessels targeting resources in areas inaccessible to the artisanal fleet.”
In recent years, TT fishermen have complained about an increasingly significant number of incidents where they were victims of attacks at sea.
The problem came to the fore on July 23, 2019 when a group of TT fishermen were brutally attacked by bandits in the Gulf of Paria. By July 30, the bodies of five fishermen were found. Four men survived the ordeal. Three are still missing.
Port of Spain – August 15, 2019