Community Focus: Fisherfolk want help from government
Fisherfolk at the Whitehouse Fishing Village in Westmoreland are upset over the lack of support from the Government, despite talks to pump resources into the critical local fishery industry.
"Everything is about agriculture and that is good, but I never hear them talk about the fishing," said Obrien Buchanan, a senior member of the Whitehouse Fishing Village Co-operative.
"If there is a bad storm and banana flood out, dem (Government) bail them out. Then what about the fishermen? We don't get help from the ministry. They only care about agriculture, and that's bad," he added.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is responsible for policies governing the sector. There is a Fisheries Division within the ministry.
HIGH GAS PRICES
Buchanan told the WESTERN STAR that the fishing community is often affected by damaged boats, fish traps and, most notably, the high rise in the price of gas.
"Our job is one of the most dangerous in the world. More dangerous than the pilot up there. Sun bun we, rain come wet we, and we have to pay fees and buy all sort of expensive equipment that the normal fisherman can hardly afford," he explained.
"There is no insurance or health benefits for fishermen. There is risk of drowning every time we go sea. So a full time now the ministry have some form of benefit for us," he added.
The fisherfolk, who number approximately three dozen at the fishing village, are also displeased about the limited support from banks and other financial institutions.
"The banks should lend us funds to buy proper boats and fishing equipment," said Gregory Wynter.
"We want boats that have proper wash, toilet and cooking facilities. So when we go to sea we can spend three for five weeks, because we have the storage to store fish and resources. The little boat we have, when go out a sea, we can only spend six to seven days out a sea and we have to come back. Sometimes we don't even make anything because the ice going, the food going, and we don't have enough storage facility," he added.