Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago are still in the process of negotiating a new fishing agreement; however, a draft protocol is in place.
This was outlined by Barbados??? Ambassador to CARICOM, Robert ???Bobby??? Morris, as he spoke to members of the media at the 35th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which ended today in Antigua.
Ambassador Morris noted that the Prime Ministers of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago had agreed on a draft protocol that deals with the arrest of fishermen, if they are caught illegally in either Trinidadian or Barbadian waters.
???And what I can say is that protocol in draft form is complete in terms of where Barbados wants it to be, as a result of several discussions with all of the various agencies – BARNUFO from the fishermen???s point of view, … [and] the Solicitor General???s Office,??? he stated.
He added: ???The old agreement that Barbados was thinking about, that type of agreement came to an end in 2006. And when we go to the table in terms of a fishing agreement, it would not necessarily take the same shape that existed at that time, because what happened in 2006 definitively was a clear statement that we cannot go into Trinidad???s Exclusive Economic Zone without an agreement with Trinidad.
???It is not a one-sided thing. Trinidad has to give us permission to come in there. Just as if they were coming into our (territorial) waters we would have to give them permission – a completely different thing from the old notion that we had a right to traverse the seas of the Caribbean, that we had equal rights to that zone that Trinidad had. So, it???s going to be a different ball game, but we are convinced that we have to do it and it will be done.???
Noting that negotiations were ongoing and were not time bound, he added that over the years, attention was focused on educating fishermen about their legal rights and helping them to understand that with those rights came obligations.
???So we have been spending a lot of time with BARNUFO (Barbados National Union of Fisherfolk Organisations), and BARNUFO has been very, very helpful in regard to training people not to break the law,??? he underlined.
Against this background, the envoy advised fishermen that until the fishing agreement could be concluded, they should concentrate on fishing in Barbados??? territorial waters as a way of earning their livelihood.
???Nobody has the flying fish ??? neither Trinidad, nor Barbados. So, we are looking at the scientific issues and not only the legal issues, but we want to assure the people of Barbados that that (the fishing agreement) is still a matter of high importance,??? Mr. Morris stressed.
Giving the assurance that the contribution of fisherfolk was vital to Barbados??? economy, he reminded persons that Prime Minister Stuart was very concerned about the Blue Economy. ???These are matters of great importance for us,??? he said.