Give Fishermen Guns to Defend Themselves 

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By Prior Beharry

A FISHERMAN who is eligible should be allowed to have a Firearm User’s Licence (FUL) to defend himself on the high seas.

Independent Senator Dr Varma Deyalsingh said, “I had suggested in Parliament sometime ago fishermen be given FUL to be able to arm themselves while they plied their trade.”

He was contacted by AZP News after the pirate attack of two brothers in the Gulf of Paria last Sunday.

Clinton Lochan and his brother Dennis were fishing in the pirogue “Zack” just off La Brea where they were robbed at gunpoint and told to jump into the sea. After four hours they made their way to land. The boat was found near Marabella but the bandits bored holes in it. The engine was never recovered.

Fisherman Clinton Lochan

This incident is just one of several that occur on a monthly basis to local fishermen. In July 2019, seven fishermen lost their lives in the deadliest pirate attack in the Gulf of Paria.

Dr Deyalsingh said, “These events keep occurring and we had promises of police posts, coast guard patrols in the Carli Bay area before. (Former police commissioner) Gary Griffith was granting shotguns to farmers to defend their property against praedial larceny due to the poor performance of the Praedial Larceny Squad.”

Independent Senator Dr Varma Deyalsingh. Photo: TT Parliament

He said, “Fishermen have to fight off persons stealing their engines as well as their catch from both Venezuelan as well as local pirates.

“Fishermen may also be in the precarious position if they witness human, gun and drug trafficking.

“I think it is time to give them the opportunity to defend their property, fellow fisherfolk and themselves.”

It is a view shared by Corporate Secretary of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) Gary Aboud.

He agrees that fishermen should get FULs but only those who are eligible and who don’t have a criminal record.

Aboud said, “We have assisted fishermen with obtaining FUL application forms and assisting those who are appropriately qualified and eligible.

“Not all person would be eligible but for those who are without a criminal record and whose intention is strictly self-defence in a dangerous career, we certainly support the idea of the FUL.”

File photo: Gary Aboud in the Gulf of Paria showing an oil

Aboud repeated his call to have a 100-metre safe zone for fishermen where no vessel should approach without fair warning and permission. He said no fisherman should presume that all vessels were friendly.

Aboud called for all fishermen to have flares to be used as a weapon and to show their location in time of danger.

He said fishermen should also log their destination whenever they leave the shore.

Aboud also called for working radars to assist the Coast Guard with recusing and protecting people out at sea.

Listen to AZP News interview with Gary Aboud below:

Dr Deyalsingh wanted clearer guidelines for the public to know the functions of the coast guard.

He said, “The excuse of no coast guard vessel is reminiscent of police saying they have no vehicles to attend to the citizenry.

“We need clear guidelines if a coast guard officer can go in a non-coast guard vessel as the issue if they are injured will they receive any compensation?

“We may need the police marine unit to be fully functional once more or the coast guard be equipped to protect our fisherfolk.”

Dr Deyalsingh lamented that fishermen have had to battle the challenges of the pandemic, increased fuel cost, lack of security and piracy on the open seas.

He noted that oil spills continue to affect their equipment and dwindling fish stock.


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