T&T’s fishermen are warning that there may not be a supply of fish for the Lenten season as they are no longer able to absorb the losses they incur as a result of the higher cost of fuel.
Following Government’s decision to discontinue the importation of regular gas, which was the primary fuel fishermen used to power their vessels, the fishermen had to use the next best alternative; super gasoline.
But at $4.97 a litre compared to regular’s $2.60 per litre, the fishermen say this additional cost is too much to bear.
“Each boat using 20 gallons, approximately 90 to 95 litres a day. When we go out some nights and we fish, we catch 20, 30 pounds of fish, which cannot pay for the gasoline. Right now I in a deficit of $4,000 for fishing over five days for the cost of gasoline.” Kelvin Rajkumar, a fisherman and told Guardian Media.
Rajkumar was among a group of fishermen protesting outside of Parliament, Tower D, Port-of-Spainon Tuesday.
“We cannot cover the cost of gasoline right now because the fish stocks are dwindling. The seismic blasting running away all the fish, oil pollution - it’s a set of problems fishermen facing,” he said.
In Parliament last week, Energy Minister Franklin Khan said officials of the Energy Ministry will meet with Agriculture Ministry’s Fisheries Division to discuss logistical changes fishermen may have to adopt to access fuel following the cessation of regular fuel. He said talks may extend to working out whether a special subsidy can be paid if the Agriculture Ministry approves. He said fishermen may receive answers in weeks.
However, Opposition Senator Gerald Ramdeen who was present at the protest along with fellow senators Saddam Hosein and Khadijah Ameen said this timeline was not acceptable.
“The most disrespectful thing about this (the situation facing fishermen) is there has been no conversation with the people to at least find a short-term solution to give them some oxygen to breathe,” he said.
- by Rishard Khan