Members of the All Tobago Fisherfolk Association(ATFA), who rescued Trinidad fishermen off the coast of Speyside on Sunday morning, say the incident reflects the “terrible” service they have grown accustomed to from the nation’s Coast Guard.
The Tobago House of Assembly’s area representative for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside Farley Augustine endorses their comment. He said the Coast Guard’s performance, over the years, leaves much to be desired.
On Sunday, a five-member crew captained by Donald Ladee onboard the fishing vessel Alexandra was reportedly drifting dangerously close to a shallow area off Speyside’a reef.
The Trinidad fishermen said they began calling the Coast Guard at 8 pm on Saturday. Uncertain when they would respond, they also called their Castara, Tobago counterparts, who sent divers to rescue them after curfew ended at 5 am on Sunday.
Having lost Castara fishermen Kervin Williams in 2014 and mounted several sea rescues since then, the Tobago fishermen accused the Coast Guard of not doing its job properly.
“If someone in Tobago calls for help, I don’t see why we have boats park up in Scarborough, down at the Coast Guard, and Tobagonians and Trinidadians can’t get help,” ATFA’s vice president Junior Quashie said.
“ We are all fed-up with this situation. It’s time Tobago’s Coast Guard be allowed to do what they have to,” he added.
Reacting to the news of the rescue, Assemblyman Augustine commended the fishermen. However, he had some harsh words for the Coast Guard’s performance.
“For Tobago fisherfolk, the Coast Guard is of little to no use. Every single time our fisherfolk find themselves in danger or need of assistance from the Coast Guard, they struggle to get someone on the line. When they get someone, they are told, there are no vessels available to the Tobago Coast Guard.”
Guardian Media reached out to Coast Guard officials about the incident.
Lieutenant Lamy said the Coast Guard was in touch with the Trinidad fishermen throughout the ordeal and mounted a response at approximately 7 am on Sunday.
She promised that from now, the security service will improve its service to fishermen.