Fishermen banned from operating at Hope Canal

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By Devina Samaroo

Fishermen who dock their boats at the Hope Canal Water Conservancy to guard against pounding waves are being asked to put an end to this practice.

Some of the fishermen are dissatisfied with this decision and are pleading with the authorities to allow them to stay.

Mohamed Haniff, a fisherman for over 40 years, told News Room that he has been docking his boats at the Hope Canal for the past three months in order to protect them from the threatening waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Haniff is one of about 40 fishermen who operate by Hope Canal and they say the decision to have them removed will affect livelihoods tremendously.

Haniff and the other fishermen say if they dock their boats elsewhere, the waves will destroy them.

Mohamed Haniff

Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder told News Room during a telephone interview that issue of having the fishermen at Hope Canal raises concerns about the integrity of the system.

“Basically, the problem is that we have to look at the integrity of the whole system in there and very often people have gone in ostensibly to do fishing and then they get involved in things like alligator slaughter and things of that nature, which is totally outside the remit of what they have been permitted to do and it has become difficult to monitor them. So it’s not something we want to encourage, fishing in that area,” Holder stated.

But Haniff and the other fishermen say they are willing to abide by rules. In fact, they are even open to paying a landing fee to use the area.

The proposal was made to the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and the fishermen are hopeful for a positive response. If not, then they will be forced to dock their boats by a nearby koker.

In addition to being exposed to the fierce waves, the fishermen said if their boats are docked at the koker, their engines and other parts would get stolen and so they would need someone on guard all night long.

For now, the fishermen say they will remain docked at Hope Canal with high hopes that the authorities will change their mind and allow them to continue to utilize the conservancy.

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