Negotiations Ongoing with Trinidad and Tobago

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Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago are still negotiating a proposed fishing agreement.

This was underlined by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he spoke to members of the media yesterday at the just concluded 34th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), in Port of Spain.

Giving an update on hammering out an agreement between the two neighbouring states, Mr. Stuart stated that at the end of the CARICOM Cuba summit, he had met with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and they had agreed to a number of initiatives, including establishing a protocol to manage the issue.

He said: ???Our Attorneys-General were supposed to meet and exchange views on the matter. That happened. Our CARICOM Ambassadors were to interface on the issues as well; that happened. We have a draft protocol in place, that protocol is with [the Government of] Trinidad and Tobago at the moment.???

Mr. Stuart made it clear that with respect to persons fishing in Trinidad???s waters, that this country was not going to ask a sister CARICOM state to allow Barbadians to violate Trinidad???s immigration laws.

However, he noted: ???At the same time, this is the Caribbean Sea we are talking about. We???re talking [about] regional integration and we think that when there are these little flare ups… that we should have a protocol in place that sets out the steps to be followed to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago is not compromised and that Barbados is not compromised and that fishermen and their families are not destabilised as a result from actions that may from time to time have to be taken in Trinidad and Tobago.???

He added: ???We have not had a Fishing Agreement since about 1990. We???ve done not too, too badly without it, but we have to remind ourselves, I think it is very often forgotten that the word agreement means not what one person wants, but what two or more people consent to.

???We can want whatever is within our own interests and desires, but unless our desires coincide with Trinidad and Tobago???s interests and their desires, [then] we don???t have an agreement.???

The Prime Minister noted that persons often remarked about the status of the fishing agreement, but he stressed that Barbadian officials could not draft an agreement and insist that the Government of Trinidad sign it.

???It doesn???t work that way. There has to be a process of negotiation and the two countries have to agree before any further steps can be taken,?????he emphasised.

Concerning the issue of plans for a new gas pipeline, he said that this was still being negotiated. ???The Minister of Agriculture of Barbados, Dr. David Estwick, heads the team negotiating that natural gas pipeline. It is still an agenda item for us. We???ve started to talk to Trinidad and Tobago about that. Other options have been put before us by other interests but the Trinidad issue is still a live one and still being pursued by the Government of Barbados, he revealed.??

cathy.lashley@barbados.gov.bb

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