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Turnbull blasts authorities who are targeting fishers

Turnbull blasts authorities who are targeting fishers

Yet another legislator has criticised local legislation that governs fishing, saying it makes no sense and does not benefit fisherfolk who serve the community.
The law that governs fishers is the Food Security & Sustainability Act (2022) which outlines a number of measures to improve fishing and farming locally.

But Natural Resources Minister Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull said aspects of the law are being enforced aggressively and are unfair to fisherfolk.

He said authorities have been insisting that each fisher must have their own boat because each fishing license is tied to a vessel. Turnbull said this prevents fishers from assisting their colleagues who may not have a boat. The minister said it also goes against the culture of cooperation fisherfolk share in the territory.

“You cannot tell me that a license is tied to a vessel and not a person. There is an unspoken language of cooperation among fisherfolk in this territory so if my boat is down or your boat is down, we have to earn a living. That’s all they do,” Turnbull explained.

He added that the authorities unfairly target local fishers but aren’t enforcing laws against people from other countries that illegally use the BVI’s waters.

Turnbull also said local fishers need to be protected because they have been supplying the community with food even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to address these things. We can’t have all this water and not protect our fisherfolk. We just need to make it make sense. And right now it’s not making sense,” Turnbull said.

His comments come just weeks after Territorial At-Large Representative, Neville ‘Sheep’ Smith highlighted the plight of local fishers, saying they are not benefitting from many of the improvements the law was supposed to bring them.

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