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Scales tipped against fishermen

Fishermen feel outnumbered and outvoted in debates that directly affect their livelihoods

Dear Sir,

The general public is understandably confused about why the island’s fishermen are dissatisfied with their engagement opportunities within the structure of the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme. The Minister says fishermen have been invited and involved at every step, and have a voting seat on the Steering Committee. It’s worth looking at the other voting members of that committee:

Entities that have nothing to do with Fisheries management:

1. Bermuda Business Development Agency

2. Bermuda Department of Health

3. Bermuda Economic Development Corporation

4. Bermuda Tourism Authority

5. Department of Economic Development

6. Department of Energy

7. Department of Planning

8. Department of Workforce Development

9. Estate Section, Ministry of Public Works

10. Regulatory Authority

Entities that are at least more ocean related:

1. Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority

2. Department of Marine and Ports

3. Environmental Authority

4. Historic Wrecks Authority

5. Bios (“Bios’ mission is to seek and share fundamental knowledge of the oceans through state-of-the-art scientific research, world-class field expeditions and comprehensive educational experiences.” From the BIOS website. Their role is as a scientific resource, not a policy development entity.)

Entities actively involved in Fisheries management:

1. Commercial Fisheries Council

2. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

3. Marine Resources Board

It’s no wonder the fishermen felt outvoted. And I’m not even opening the box of the US-based Waitt Institute’s influence, with their slick advertising budget that could have funded a new fisheries patrol boat. I know several fishermen who would have liked to be able to vote on Planning issues concerning the airport dump, which has destroyed a prime anchovy aggregation spot in Castle Harbour, however they were for some reason not consulted on that.

The Minister says the fishermen are welcome at any time back to the BOPP table. He’s missing the point that the discussion is so stacked against them, their input is over-ruled on issues that first and foremost, affect their livelihoods.

Nor did this contentious situation come about in a vacuum. Fishermen’s concerns have been historically ignored, over-ruled, and under-funded for decades. This did not come out of nowhere with just the BOPP, it’s been brewing for a long time.

The good news is, there are common goals, mutual benefits to be found. Let’s hope the people at the top can prove their intentions to make this a truly Bermudian solution, and make this a fair conversation.


St George’s

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Published December 28, 2022 at 7:36 am (Updated December 28, 2022 at 7:36 am)

Scales tipped against fishermen

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