By Office the Prime Minister
(PRESS RELEASE) — The Government of Saint Lucia met with representatives of various fishing societies to discuss protocols to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
Present at the meeting held at the Finance Administrative Centre was Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet, officials of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) including the Commissioner of Police Severin Moncherry, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Natural Resources and Co-operatives Honourable Ezechiel Joseph, Minister for Home Affairs, Justice and National Security Senator Honourable Hermangild Francis, Minister of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development Honourable Dr. Gale Rigobert, Head of the Command Centre and Minister of Tourism Honourable Dominic Fedee and the Attorney General Stephen Julien.
The meeting featured discussions on ways fishers and law enforcement can work together to better protect the nation’s borders amidst the high occurrences of illegal entry into the country.
Fishing representatives offered solutions and can be expected back at sea on Thursday. November 5, 2020, on the condition of the following:
-Fisherfolk to work collaboratively with authorities to share information and adhere to new guidelines moving forward.
-All valid fishers can go to sea from 4 am – 6 pm daily.
-At all times, captains must carry their vessel documents and fisher IDs.
-Before leaving port, captains must contact the Vigie or Moule-a-Chique Lighthouses to provide relevant information.
– The number of people allowed to engage in fishing on the vessel will be in keeping with the number sanctioned as per the vessel registration certificate.
– Anyone caught undertaking human trafficking activities will have their fishing license suspended for a period of one year.
According to the Prime Minister monitoring, the movement of vessels will assist greatly in controlling borders. A GPS system is soon to be a reality for fishers and will be part of a fishing license holder’s agreement. In the meantime, a plea is being made for fisherfolk to join the fight to protect Saint Lucia’s borders.
At a joint press briefing, which took place after the meeting, the prime minister continued to stress the need for everyone to appreciate how dynamic this situation is and how vulnerable we remain as a country, especially at our borders.
“This is our war to lose, this is our war to win. If we have to keep our borders open and persons working, we must stop this community spread,” said Prime Minister Chastanet in his closing remarks. “We know that restrictions put in place cause hardship on certain sectors, but we must all work together for the greater good to protect the vulnerable in our society.”
The Statutory Instrument to guide the new protocols will be Gazetted on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 to come into effect on Thursday, November 5, 2020.