San Fernando fishermen were left disappointed yesterday after their meeting with UDeCoTT about the San Fernando Waterfront Redevelopment project was suddenly cancelled without an explanation.
More than 30 fisherfolk turned up for the 3 pm meeting at Kings Wharf seeking answers, but at 3.10 pm they were informed that the meeting had been cancelled. They will be directly affected since the fish market is situated in the middle of the redevelopment project at Kings Wharf. In an interview with reporters, fisherman Bobby Sooklalsingh said they were hoping to get answers from UDeCoTT officials. He claimed that UDeCoTT assured them that the fish market would remain on the wharf, but recent media reports that they were going to be relocated by Hatters panyard. While they welcomed the project, Salim Gool, chairman of the San Fernando Fishing Cooperative said they are opposed to relocation.
“We want a fishing facility built here.”
He said they had presented UDeCoTT with a copy of their proposed plan for the fish market.
Between 2017 and 2018, Gool said they had 13 meetings with the Fisheries Division and in 2016 they wrote to the Agriculture Minister but got no response. He said yesterday’s meeting would have been the first meeting with UDeCoTT since the sod-turning ceremony for the project on June 26. Gool believes that UDeCoTT got wind that the media would be at the meeting and decided to cancel it. He also felt that the sod-turning ceremony was just political propaganda and no work would commence on the project.
“They really don’t plan to develop Kings Wharf and they really don’t plan to give fisherman anything.” He said the fishermen were not interested in meeting with UDeCoTT anytime soon.
“Calling for meeting and failing to show, this is a total embarrassment to the fishing community,” he lamented.
Gool said in the past they would write to the United Nations whenever they felt the government contravened the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and they would be writing them again over this matter.