In Government’s effort to ensure the sustainable use of the nation’s fish resources, being ever cognizant of environmental concerns, mindful of the food security needs of current and future generations and having due regard to the stakeholders in the trawl fishery, Cabinet has agreed to the following recommendations from Senator the Honourable Devant Maharaj, Minister of Food Production:
• An amendment of regulations under the Fisheries Act to allow for the following measures to come into force one year after the legislative changes come into effect:
• Implementation of a closed season for artisanal trawling activities for the months of September and October in the first instance, with the length and timing of the closed season to be reviewed every two years;
• A ban on trawling for non-artisanal trawlers;
• Appointment of a multi-sectorial committee to consider a relief package which can be offered to displaced fishers who will be affected by the change in legislation and the ban on semi-industrial and industrial trawling.
This decision follows a series of stakeholder consultations by the Fisheries Division to identify the issues in the trawl fishery, and consider the range of possible solutions to address the issues. As many are aware trawling is a method of fishing that involves the manual or mechanized towing or pulling of fishing net called a trawl net through the water or on the bottom of the sea bed. This process captures a large quantity of species incidentally, the vast majority of which are discarded, with a major proportion of the discards comprising juveniles of commercially important species (including carite, king fish, snappers and groupers) which are targeted by other stakeholders. This situation has resulted in serious conflicts among competing fishermen and has also been presented by environmentalists as compelling justification for strong action to be taken against trawling activities.
Over the years considerable criticisms has been directed at the trawl fishery from fishers of other fisheries and the general public. Additionally, conflicts have arisen between artisanal and non-artisanal trawl fishers concerning habitat destruction resulting from the dragging of the trawl gears on the sea bed during trawling operations.
– Corporate Communications Division,
Ministry of Food Production