BPTT facilitates a deep dive into the fishing industry

October 8, 2018

“With more rights comes greater responsibility.” This was the core of the message delivered to the fisher folk of Trinidad and Tobago by Agriculture Minister, Clarence Rambharat, at the ground-breaking Sustainable Fisheries Management Workshop hosted by BP Trinidad and Tobago at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre on Wednesday, October 3.

Delivering the keynote address, the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries outlined his expectations for the workshop and challenged the fishing community to take greater charge of the sector. “We need more leadership from fisher folk in the management of the infrastructure that is put in place to support the industry. You have to think about the long-term perspective and not just get caught up in the ‘hustle for today’. I applaud BPTT for providing this platform and I urge you, the fishing community of Trinidad and Tobago, to speak up and make your contribution to the future of our fishing industry,” Rambharat stated.

The Agriculture Minister also touched on the significant investments made in developing the fishing sector, including facilities in Carenage, Blanchisseuse, Cocorite and Otaheiti, as well as the fact that criminal elements were hampering the progress of fishing. He also explained the work being done to modernise the sector through the updating of legislation governing sustainable fisheries management.

Founded on BPTT’s long-standing dialogue with the fishing community in the south-eastern community of Mayaro and environs, the workshop was designed to expand the opportunity for the fisherfolk to contribute to the sustainable management of the sector and marks substantial delivery on a commitment made to the fishing community by BPTT. 

Welcoming participants was Giselle Thompson, Vice-President, Corporate Operations, BPTT. “The reality is that changes are coming to the local fishing industry and this change can be positive if we all work together in bringing about these changes. It is our hope that, positions and solutions on key issues affecting fisher folk, energy operators and other users of the sea, will be conceptualised and that beyond our discussions today, we keep the dialogue open and push forward with implementable solutions. We are pleased to continue investing in the people of Trinidad and Tobago and in processes that spur national development like this fisheries workshop,” Thompson explained.

The workshop saw participation from a wide cross-section of stakeholders, including fisher folk organisations from across Trinidad and the sister isle of Tobago, the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Institute of Marine Affairs, the Environmental Management Agency, the University of Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean Fisheries Training and Development Institute, the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs and representatives of other energy-based companies.

Presentations were made on a number of critical topics including legislation governing sustainable fisheries management, the role of fisheries, local knowledge and participatory geographic information systems, the state of fishing facilities in Trinidad and Tobago, changes in the fisheries sector, marine safety and security, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and the draft national relief guidelines to fishers for seismic operations.

In response to the challenge issued by Minister Rambharat, representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago fishing community spoke about the need for better infrastructure and more dialogue with all stakeholders.

In the words of Curtis Douglas, Vice-President of the All Tobago Fisher Folk Association, “This was a step in the right direction and I sincerely thank BPTT for facilitating this workshop. This was an unprecedented success and created an avenue for dialogue and input from the fishing community in planning the future of the fishing industry. There was transparency and open dialogue and we expect that this is the direction that we will continue as we all work together and do our part in ensuring that fishing in Trinidad and Tobago is sustainable and successful.”

At the end of the workshop, a number of outcomes were identified as being necessary for paving the way forward, including a more inclusive approach in terms of involving fisher folk at the decision-making levels, the creation of fit-for-purpose facilities where the fisher folk will be an active part of the management structures, legislation regulating industries which cause harm to the environment and building awareness on legislation that impacts on fisher folk.

Bringing a close to the successful workshop was Ronda Francis, Corporate Responsibility Manager, BPTT, “Everyone here today shared their findings and opinions in working together toward more sustainable fisheries management. I thank Minister Rambharat for setting the tone early on and applaud all of the participants who contributed to making this exercise a success. We look forward to future consultation and collaboration as we work together toward transforming the fishing industry in Trinidad and Tobago.”

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Contact:

Luis Araujo 868 793 3374

"We are pleased to continue investing in the people of Trinidad and Tobago and in processes that spur national development like this fisheries workshop"