by Curlan Campbell
- Project expected to train 300 fishermen as Fishing Vessel Captains
- 78 fishers trained in Carriacou and Petite Martinique
- National closing ceremony for 225 fishers from mainland Grenada before end of year
Improving boater safety remains a top priority, as the Windward Island Research & Education Foundation (Windref) at St George’s University (SGU), in partnership the Ministry of Fisheries, is preparing to continue Fishing Vessel Captains Training on mainland Grenada after successful completion of the course on the sister isles.
“The last Captains’ Training was conducted in 2007. A number of young fishers are now operating large longline fishing boats going on the high seas without any basic formal training in rules of the road, navigation, safety at sea etc. This has resulted in many ‘near misses’ and accidents at sea resulting in loss of lives and property etc. It is like a young person starting to drive a truck or bus on the road without a driver’s permit,” said Roland Baldeo, coordinator of the programme.
The next course will be at Gouyave from 2-6 November 2020. The training will then move to Grenville from 9-13 November and the final course at Melville Street from 16-20 November. This training can accommodate up to 20 fisherfolk.
The project is funded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations through the Climate Change Adaptation of the fisheries sector in the Eastern Caribbean Project (CC4FISH).
The project is expected to train 300 fishermen as Fishing Vessel Captains in 14 one-week Captains’ Training Courses. Upon completion participants within the 7 fishing districts of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique will each receive a Certificate of Completion, a Captains’ Class II Permit, a new VHF Marine Radio with GPS, a flash drive with all training information and their captain’s cap.
The training modules taught during the programme include:
- Rules of the Road
- Coastal Navigation
- Seamanship & Boat handling
- Safety at Sea
- Distress Procedures and Search & Rescue
- Use of GPS
- VHF Radio Operating procedures
- Using VHF Radio with GPS and FM Radio
- Fisheries Laws & Regulations
- Fisheries Conservation Measures
- First Aid
- Conflict Resolution.
The recently concluded programme saw 78 fishers trained in both Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Attending the closing ceremonies in Carriacou on 16 October and in Petite Martinique on 22 October were Hon. Kindra Mathurine-Stewart, Parliamentary Representative & Minister of Legal Affairs, Carriacou & Petite Martinique Affairs & Local Government; Hon. Yolande Bain-Horsford, Minister of Sports, Culture & the Arts, Cooperatives and Fisheries; Michael Stephen, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Culture & the Arts, Cooperatives and Fisheries with responsibility for Fisheries and Cooperatives, and Rholda Quamina, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs.
The programme coordinator said from all indications, the training in Carriacou and Petite Martinique was well received by the fisherfolk. “The ability to programme waypoints in a VHF Radio with GPS was one of the areas where fishers learnt quite a lot. This is the state-of-the-art piece of equipment the fishers were trained to use and were each presented with one at the end of the course. Also, in areas of the Rules of the Road, distress procedures, engine repair and maintenance etc., were all areas where they learnt quite a lot and would be more competent in carrying out their daily fishing operations,” Baldeo said.
As part of the training module, fisherfolk were trained in Fisheries Conservation Measures. Baldeo spoke of the importance of boat captains to pay attention to marine conservation methods in their line of work. “It is very important that local fishing vessel captains understand the rationale for closed seasons and minimum size for certain species of fish. Why is it illegal to harvest turtles under 25 pounds? Why is it illegal to harvest lobsters with eggs? etc. Also, captains need to understand the importance and long-term benefits of MPAs (marine protected areas) as it could affect their livelihoods in years to come,” he said.
A national closing ceremony for the 225 fishers from mainland Grenada will be conducted before the end of the year.