With the annual hurricane season beginning, a call has gone out to fisherfolk and fishermen to heed the various warnings and advisories and to put proper contingency plans in place to safeguard their vessels.

Chief Fisheries Officer, Steven Willoughby, urged those individuals to secure their boats within a timely manner, and to cooperate with his department to ensure their vessels remained safe in the event of a hurricane.

He said: "The Fisheries Division has a plan to safeguard vessels in the event of bad weather and the plan is activated as soon as the seas start to get rough and choppy.?? First of all, we have the coast being divided into seven zones and zone supervisors are assigned to each zone. In the event of bad weather, the zone supervisor goes out to the zones to assess the sea conditions and to collect information on the number of boats to be removed from the water.?? This information is then fed back to the Control Centre in the Fisheries Division for decision-making."

Mr. Willoughby also called on those persons working in fisheries to shoulder some of the responsibility when it came to preparing for the season.

"Owners are responsible for securing their vessels and we are urging boat owners to have, or, to develop a plan for storing and securing their vessels.?? In this plan, they need to identify where the boat will be stored and secured, the materials to secure the boat and where they [the materials] will be stored…," he underscored.

Pointing out that any emergency plan should contain a list of equipment, the Chief Fisheries Officer outlined that all items onboard the vessel should be marked, so that if they are blown around by the wind they would be easily identifiable.?? He went on to explain that it [the list] should contain key contact persons such as the Fisheries Division, the Zone Supervisor, the Chief and Deputy Fisheries Officer, the boat captain and the names of the fishermen.

The Fisheries Officer also pleaded with fishermen to obtain the required necessities such as rope, fenders, old tires, etc, so that they would be able to fender their vessels. He emphasised that they [fishermen] should make sure that their mooring and berthing lines were in good condition.

Reminding fishermen to make early decisions in terms of seeking safe harbor or hauling their boats out of the water, Mr. Willoughby stated "we will be visiting a site only once before moving on, so it means that they have to be prepared when they {fisheries officers} come on site to haul that vessel, because we will not be turning back to go to the site when there are people down the line who are waiting to get hauled out," he warned.??tblackman@barbados.gov.bb

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