CARIBARENA.COM REPORTS CHINESE BEING ACCUSED OF IGNORING FISHING REGULATIONSSunday 14th April 2013
Antigua St. John's -
Local commercial fisher-folk and sports fishing enthusiasts have joined with marine environmentalists to decry the destructive practices of Chinese residents of Antigua & Barbuda, who they say are “wiping out” entire species of marine life, including so-called “chicken lobster”.
Speaking on a local radio program President of the Sports Fishing Association Philip Shoul charged that residents of Chinese origin in particular are openly flouting Fisheries Regulations by harvesting immature lobsters. Shoul was supported by commercial fisherman Jason “Bubbla” Gregory, who reported that the illegal practice is being carried out by nationals of the Peoples Republic of China.
Shoul stated that Chinese nationals are stripping the accessible coastline of Antigua & Barbuda of any edible marine life, without regard to any regulation, environmental or conservation issues. Gregory strongly supported Shoul in his perspective, noting that such practices are being pursued in areas around Parham and Blackmans.
Gregory reported that Chinese nationals have been seen stripping the mangroves of oysters and other edible marine life, regardless of size or stage of development. Gregory also advised that police, when called to scene and encountering Chinese nationals engaged in such practices, have delivered warnings and taken no action other than to order that the immature lobsters be discarded. This information, Gregory said, had been reported to the Fisheries Division.
Gregory further alleged that Chinese workers who constructed the Wadadli Power Plant had virtually “wiped out” the entire population of “chicken lobster” from the area surrounding the Wadadli Beer Brewery.
Marine biologist John Mussington denied that there is any such thing as “chicken lobster”, noting that the phrase refers to “baby” or “juvenile” lobsters that are simply not ready for exploitation. The harvesting of such non-marketable lobsters, Mussington said, is against the Fisheries Regulations. Both Mussington and Shoul agreed that this practice has resulted from over-fishing of lobster, which means that fisher-folk now need to go further and dive deeper to find enough lobster to make a decent meal.
Mussington deplored the “free-for-all” environment, and observed that nothing is being done to curtail such practices, whether on Antigua by Chinese or in Barbuda by local fisher-folk. Policing is entirely non-existent, and the situation is exacerbated by commercial fishermen from outside of Antigua & Barbuda who exploit local marine resources at will.
Shoul stressed that these practices, particularly by Chinese residents, are destroying the coastline of Antigua & Barbuda. In this he was vigorously supported by Gregory, who reported that Chinese residents were also doing net fishing in local ponds.
Mussington, Shoul and Gregory concurred that such practices must by definition be illegal, since there is no way a license can be issued for such behavior. It remains to be seen what action, if any, the Fisheries Division will take in light of these revelations.
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