Monday, September 17, 2012

Brother B (hilson baptiste), minister of fisheries has to be joking!

After years of complaining about the lack of action seen with regard to enacting new fisheries regulations, The Antigua Conservations Society started an online petition (seen here) to request help from the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer. The news of this petition spread like fire and within a few days the Minister of Fisheries said that he would sign the regulations after more consultations. This was met with mixed feelings by the ACS for two reasons. 1) The Fisheries Act which was passed years before after a monumental amount of consultations with fishers and stakeholders provided regulations which were sitting at the minister's desk for years. It seemed to be a time wasting effort to have the same process done once again ignoring all the data that had been collected already which resulted in the very same regulations still sitting on his desk. 2) It was also felt that these consultations were just another in a long series of games played by the Fisheries Minister in an effort to make sure that the new act wasn't past. How would these new consultations be designed to get a different outcome?

Well the new rounds of lengthy consultations earlier this summer were managed by the Chief Fisheries officer and her team both here in Antigua and in Barbuda. Hundreds of hours or work eventually culminated months later in a new set of regulations which finally were sent to the minister for him to sign late last week. Today, a reporter asked Minister Baptiste when the regulations which were given to him by his Chief Fisheries officer were going to be signed. His reply was astonishing! He said that before he signs, there needs to be more consultations. Once again the work and effort done by the fisher folk of Antigua and Barbuda together with the Fisheries Department isn't good enough? Who is he going to consult with now? The Japanese? There doesn't need to be any consultations at all just a signature which will see a slight change in the way our marine resources are managed so that they may be there for generations to come. Too bad for them!

There you have it ladies and gentlemen. Our marine resources are being rapidly depleted and our Minister continues to stall much needed protection measures. It's time for a change and not just in terms of regulations!!!

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