A scheduled meeting between members of the Coastal Support Unit and representatives from various fishing associations was abruptly cancelled, leaving the local fisherfolk deeply disappointed and concerned about their safety.
The meeting, scheduled for 10 am today, which was organized by MP Ravi Ratiram and representatives of the TTS Coastal Support Unit intended to address the growing threats faced by fisherfolk operating at sea, including alarming incidents where armed individuals in masks had been instructing them not to fish. These incidents have placed the livelihoods and well-being of the fishermen in grave jeopardy, and they were eagerly looking forward to collaborating with law enforcement to find solutions.
The meeting was confirmed that the TTS Coastal Support Unit will meet with representatives from various fishing associations, including those from Felicity, Brickfield, Orange Valley, Claxton Bay, and Carli Bay, to discuss criminal activities at sea and identify hotspots requiring police intervention. Late last night, Inspector Doodnath from the Couva Police Station communicated a proactive plan to dispatch Coastal Support Unit officers to engage with stakeholders and address the rising concerns in the marine environment. This initiative was designed to restore public trust, build effective community partnerships, and address the safety of those working in the fishing industry.
However, at 10:38 AM, the fisherfolk were shocked to receive last minute instructions of a change in plans by the Coastal Support Unit. The intended meeting, where fisherfolk were to discuss criminal activities and identify hotspots with the police, was cancelled.
The new plan involved conducting survival training, safety out-at-sea training, and the use of flare launchers at the Carli Bay facility. When the team of fishing associations agreed to meet the Coastal Support Unit at Carli Bay further instruction was then given to the TTS Coastal Support Unit to cancel the training, meeting and site visits that were scheduled for today.
These sudden changes left the fisherfolk perplexed, as these training were not previously discussed with any of them including MP Ratiram.
MP Ratiram, along with representatives from the fishing association, has raised a crucial question: “Who is giving the instructions?”
The fisherfolk, who face real threats to their lives and livelihoods, are seeking answers and transparency from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS). They cannot go about their work freely, as armed individuals are instructing them not to fish. The breakdown in communication and the cancellation of the meeting have left the fisherfolk in a state of vulnerability and uncertainty.
MP Ratiram and the fisherfolk call for immediate clarification from the TTS on the abrupt cancellation and demand to know who is responsible for giving these instructions. They emphasize the urgency of decentralizing resources, including vessels and a TTS Coastal Support Unit/ coast guard base, to ensure the safety and security of those who rely on the sea for their livelihoods.
In these challenging times, the fisherfolk deserve the support and protection they need to fish without fear and intimidation. It is essential to address these issues promptly to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of those in the coastal communities.
Ravi Ratiram, MP,
Member of Parliament, Couva North.