'Higher fuel costs can affect supply of fish'

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - 08:45

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