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Offshore drilling, piracy ‘killing’ fish industry

By Richardson Dhalai Saturday, February 16 2013

Consumers can expect an exorbitant increase in fish prices as, according to San Fernando Fishing Co-operative Society president, Salim Gool, the industry is on the verge of collapse due to dwindling catches in the Gulf of Paria, the departure of fisher folk and piracy on the high seas and on land.

Gool painted a bleak future of the fishing industry saying fish prices, which currently averages $40 a pound for carite and king fish, could reach between $60 to $100 per pound as the Lenten season progresses.

He said the industry has suffered in recent years due to several factors including seismic explorations conducted by multinational companies and the advent of drilling platforms in the once fertile Gulf of Paria. “Governments past and present have never addressed the problems facing fishermen and this goes all the way back to when fishermen were protesting the various seismic surveys being done in the Gulf of Paria to the over fishing by foreign trawlers in our waters,” he said, adding, “and when we brought up these things, they either ignored us or said we didn’t know what we were speaking about.”

“But now the evidence is there for all to see. Nobody is catching big catches anymore because the fish is disappearing and now fishermen have to either go further out or either abandon the industry entirely,” he said.

Gool said an estimated 200 fishermen have left the industry to take up jobs with a private transhipment company and young people were unwilling to take up fishing.

“When these people leave the industry, who will do the fishing? We getting nowhere fast so the only thing the Ministry of Food Production can do is tell consumers to pay the increased prices,” he said.

He said fishermen were optimistic following a meeting with San Fernando Mayor, Dr Navi Muradali and members of the Fisheries Division last October on the construction of a new fishing facility at Kings Wharf, San Fernando but, to the present time, he has not heard anything more about the project although work has begun on a boardwalk at Lady Hailes Avenue, San Fernando.

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