EC$500,000 is the fine that the court will be able to charge the operator of a foreign vessel found fishing illegally in the territorial waters of Grenada.
The adjustment to the penalty was approved during Thursday’s sitting of the House of Representatives. Fisheries Minister Roland Bhola told the House that when the original legislation was approved in 1986 there was a typographical error which caused the fine to be read as EC$5,000 instead of EC$500,000. Local fishermen who engage in illegal fishing can be fined a maximum of EC$10,000.
“What we are doing today is really ensuring that the same thing is not only in word but in figures,” he said while explaining that illegal or unregulated fishing is not just a problem for Grenada but in the entire region.
“Their boats may be using equipment that are not in compliance with regulations and because they have no one to report to, the damage that are done can destroy the sector which brings in millions to our small island economies,” he said.
“The fishing sector means a lot to Grenada and the region, and we have to put structures in place to safeguard,” he said as he justified the fine. Bhola said that the high fee is a means to deter those who are involved in unregulated fishing which destroy reefs and marine life.
“Illegal fishing can destroy the fishing sector as it takes away our products. For example when persons come into our waters they take away undersized fishes and use things that can just damage our marine life,” he said.
“The sector is very important to us with regards to our nutrition and food security,” he told members of House who also learned that the sector contribution EC$23 million directly to Grenada’s economy in 2013.
“However, I must hasten to add that its overall contribution is well over EC$45 million,” Bhola said.
By Linda Straker