Bajans have every right to fish in Tobago under Treaty – PM Mottley Loop Barbados

The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

Barbadian fishermen have every right to fish in Tobago waters and vice versa.

This assertion was made by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley on Wednesday, while speaking to the media at the sidelines of the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) workshop on Climate Services to Support Adaptation and Resilience in the Caribbean at the Accra Beach Hotel.

While responding to claims made by All Tobago Fisherfolk Association (ATFA) in another section of the media on April 10, that Barbadian fishermen were overfishing in Tobago waters and forcing Tobagonian fish processors to go out of business, Mottley sought to clear the air about perceived tensions between Barbados and the twin-island republic, Trinidad and Tobago.

She revealed that the flying fish issue was discussed with Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley and relations were “extremely collegiate and friendly”. Prime Minister Mottley said whether there was overfishing in Tobago waters should be determined by the fisheries department.

“What Prime Minister Rowley and I have agreed is that there is no way that either of the two of us can tell you whether there has been overfishing. We do not believe so.

“Let the two fisheries departments meet and let them come to the conclusion based on the science and the evidence that is available.”

Prime Minister Mottley voiced that the concerns regarding Barbadian fishermen plying their trade in Trinidad and Tobago was an “irrelevant” issue, as the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas gives any Caribbean person “the right to go and set up a business anywhere”.

“The issue is irrelevant, when you have the fact that Barbadians can go into Tobago and set up a fish processing plant anytime tomorrow or today, in the same way Trinidadians can come here and own a hotel and establish a hotel….

“The right of establishment under the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas gives any Caribbean person, who lives in a country that is signatory to it, the right to go and set up a business anywhere. Now, we may have to help some of the fishermen if they want to do that, but the bigger issue is that there are some scientific issues with the sargassum seaweed and the pelagic [zone] and the flying fish – Let the fisheries department do their work,” she insisted.

With the Caribbean threatened by not only climate change but also unsustainable fishing practices, the environmental champion, hopes for a regional agreement to protect the marine environment.

“If we can get an agreement that deals with conservation and the management of stock and preventing overfishing that is in the interest of all of us,” remarked Prime Minister Mottley.