For the first time in 104 years, a bill has been laid in Parliament to replace the old Fisheries Act.
These were the words of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley as he introduced the Fisheries Management Bill 2020.
He noted that the current Act, established in 1916, has been deemed inadequate and after five draft bills over almost 30 years, new legislation has been introduced for debate in Parliament.
The bill, according to the PM:
- strengthens and incorporates fisheries management and international obligations, in relation to its antecedent drafts as it allows for broader responsibilities, jurisdiction and powers in relation to fisheries management by the State and its representatives
- it creates a legal basis for compliance by stakeholders
- it establishes a legal framework for the State to fulfill its obligations as a flag, port, coastal and market State in accordance with the existing international framework for fisheries management and related sectors
- it establishes the legal basis for State to collect revenue through application fees for authorizations, licences and permits as well as penalties that are significant for deterring illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing
- it provides a way into the future in which the law can be relevant for at least 20 years, as it provides for validity of measures to give effect to other agreements and treaties, which Trinidad and Tobago may adopt in future
The Prime Minister says the new legislation also seeks to protect the lives and livelihoods of stakeholders.