Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development, Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie, Executive Director of the Economic Development Board (EDB) Dr Rikhi Permanand and representatives of the Department of Fisheries, the Sea Food Industries Development Company (SIDC), local government representatives and representatives of the Fishermen’s Associations of Toco and Matelot met recently as part of a site visit and fact finding mission led by the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development’s Economic Development Board.
Supporting the ministry on this initiative were Terry Rondon, Councillor for Toco/Fishing Pond; Dwayne Francois, Councillor for Sangre Grande West; Keegan Slinger of the SIDC; Kendall Zoe, President of the Matelot Fisherman’s Association and Ken Morris, President of the North East Coast Multi-purpose Cooperative.
The objective was to meet with the stakeholders in the two communities to initiate collaboration as well get first-hand the needs of the fishermen to begin working together. Toco and Matelot are two of five communities involved in Project Five Zero (Project 50), an initiative aimed at enhancing physical and economic conditions in areas along the North Coast of Trinidad. The five regions are Toco, Matelot, Blanchisseuse, Las Cuevas and Maracas.
The timing of the visit was apt because of recent destruction to facilities in Matelot by natural forces and damage by a vehicle to the fishing facilities in Toco. Tewarie and the other officials had planned the visit way in advance of these challenges. The discussion were engaging and focused on hearing first-hand the needs of the fisher folk from these communities to develop a collaborative relationship geared towards interventions that will alleviate much of their strife.
Project 5 Zero is closely linked to the development of geographic spaces through the growth poles and the economic diversification thrust via the enhancement of T&T’s food sustainability. The fishing industry and eco-tourism are being considered in addressing the development of the North Coast growth pole. Similar visits are being organised for Blanchisseuse, Las Cuevas and Maracas.