PR – The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Fisheries, and Cooperatives recently concluded a significant validation workshop aimed at revising and updating Grenada’s Safety at Sea Regulations, which were initially established in 1990.
This initiative is a collaborative effort between the Ministry’s Fisheries Division and the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) of St. George’s University. Funding support for the project is provided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
The proposed update to the regulations aims to address the evolving nature of the fishing industry and promote safer practices on fishing craft, as expressed by Mr. Aaron Francois, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Fisheries and Cooperatives.
The workshop, held on July 18, 2023, at the National Stadium, marked the final phase of a thorough review process that commenced in November 2022. Key stakeholders participated in a Focus Group meeting during the consultations, engaging in discussions on the development of a national strategy, themes, and an approach to revising the current regulations.
Chief Fisheries Officer and Technical Director in the Division of Fisheries, Justin Rennie, emphasised the positive impact of these updates, particularly in improving search and rescue operations.
“The existing legislation, dating back over 30 years, no longer adequately reflects the current state of the fishing industry, making the need for these regulatory updates more urgent” Mr. Rennie told attendees that “Whenever there is any distress out at sea, search and rescue is a big thing, it takes time, resources, fuel to actually go out and search for our fisherman.
The Chief Fisheries Officer also pointed out other advantages to the upgrade including food and nutrition security, poverty alleviation, employment generation, and foreign exchange earnings.
Safety and Sea Specialist at WINDREF, Roland Baldeo, working closely with the Division of Fisheries, stressed that the new regulations are vital in accommodating the various types of vessels now present in Grenada’s fishing industry.
“We are into the satellite age, and there are devices that can track a boat. If you are in distress, a land-based station can know where you are in real time. Having new regulations in place is critical for this industry now, with the number of boats, the size of the boats, the distance they are going out to fish,” he said.
Ms. Lisa Chetram, Fisheries Officer responsible for inspecting fishing vessels annually, believes that updating the Fisheries Regulations will lead to improved compliance and better management of fishing activities. According to Chetram, by placing greater emphasis on adherence to the rules and guidelines, fishers will be better equipped to ensure their safety, which ultimately benefits the entire fishing industry.
Following the consultation process, a comprehensive proposal will be presented to Cabinet, along with a justification for endorsing the updated regulations. Subsequently, the Minister for Agriculture will introduce the proposal in parliament to obtain the necessary approval before officially publishing the revised regulations in the gazette. Once gazetted, the updated regulations will become an integral part of the comprehensive Fisheries Legislation, further strengthening the foundation for sustainable fishing practices in Grenada.