"Should an incident occurred out in the high seas again where fishermen are murdered their blood will this time be on the hands of the prime minister."
This statement came from a group of fishermen from the Carli Bay, Orange Valley and Claxton Bay areas on Monday as they spoke to members of the media while at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain across from the prime minister’s Whitehall office.
The group went to deliver a letter to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, who is also the head of the National Security Council.
The letter contained a request for a meeting and 12 recommendations to be discussed “together with the PM.”
Fisherman Imtiaz Khan said that Monday was “Day 49” since the murders of the fishermen and lamented the fact that they are still without security.
“Mister Prime Minister we are asking you to please help us in putting things in place as Head of the National Security Council…we know that you are able and we are appealing to you,” Khan said.
“The letter has 12 recommendations. We could go through it together and see what we could come up with to ensure that this does not happen again,” he added.
Khan said since the incident most of the fishermen, for fear for their lives, refuse to go out to ply their trade and as a result, many of them could not send their children to school at the opening of the new school term last week because of no money.
One fisherman, Premchand Rampersad said he cannot meet his loan payments to the Agricultural Development Bank because he has not been out to fish since the incident.
“We are afraid to go out there. I owing $100,000 and cannot pay my loan but them don’t want to hear what we going through they just want their money. It's hard for us. We want to feel safe out there. That’s all we are asking for,” he said.
Secretary of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS), Gary Aboud said the fishermen are “simply asking for them (referring to the Government) to reach out to us, to listen to us, to give us some kind of Cabinet directive…to meet, discuss and give a listing that has government input.”
“Prime Minister the blood will be in your hands if it happens again,” Aboud said.
On July 22, seven Carli Bay fishermen were beaten and thrown overboard. Five bodies were recovered and two still missing.
Two of the 12 recommendations include more regular Coast Guard patrols and VHF marine radios where distress calls can be made directly to the T&T Coast Guard.
- by Rhondor Dowlat-Rostant. Photo by Carisa Lee.