The cries of fishermen who recently lost their livelihood when their vessels were destroyed due to a combination of bad weather and inadequate equipment, have not fallen on deaf ears.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Haynesley Benn, yesterday revealed that Government was working assiduously to acquire the requisite equipment in another six to eight months, through a $3million allotment for equipment, which was outside of the provisions made in last July’s budget.
“We met with management of the Fisheries Advisory Committee (FAC) and an order has already been placed for equipment. Some equipment will take a long time to get here, but we are hoping that within six to eight months we can have all of the equipment needed to assist boat owners across Barbados,” he explained.
In addition to a crane and a sea lift, with the capacity to hoist boats of up to 70 tonnes, Minister Benn said they also had their “eyes on two trailers,” which could take boats away to safety during the hurricane season, or for repairs or maintenance outside of that period. He added that a tractor, as well as other accessories, was “also in the works.”
In terms of costs associated with the use of the equipment, Minister Benn said while a “fee” would be involved, costs would not be exorbitant.
“We don’t want to undercut private enterprise, but we certainly want to make it more affordable,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Senator Benn expressed concern at the lackadaisical attitude of some fishermen during the hurricane season, as it related to moving their vessels to safety.
“My concern is that once a hurricane is about to strike, not all fishermen want to be cooperative in getting their boats out. They are opting to leave them in the water, and say they will take a chance,” he explained, noting that when they sustained damage Government was called on to compensate such persons.
He said he would like to see fishermen form a cooperative and establish a fund that could be used to effect repairs undertake routine maintenance and the purchase of equipment.
The Minister cited ageing boats, inadequate equipment, limited storage and the unavailability of ice at landing facilities as among the fishermen’s major concerns at this time.