Tobago’s Marine Waters Could be Increased to 11 Nautical Miles

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By Chantalé Fletcher

TOBAGO’S marine waters could increase from six nautical miles to 11 nautical miles which will be a great achievement for the island.

In debating the Tobago Self-Governance Bill 2020, Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis listed all the reasons why the island could not still govern itself without the support of central Government using examples of other countries that consisted of several islands and history.

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However, Tobago will assume more responsibility if not total and will no longer be referred to in historic documents as “a ward of Trinidad.”

The minister described Monday as “historic.”

Robinson-Regis said, “The seas around, between and connecting the islands of Trinidad and Tobago are under the sovereignty of the State of Trinidad and Tobago irrespective of the individual breadth and mention of the separation of the archipelago. This applies to every archipelago under the tribunal law of the sea.”

She added, “There are no separate waters belonging to Tobago or the island of Trinidad. All waters belong to people of Trinidad and Tobago.”

However, the Government proposes responsibility for more nautical miles.

“We propose that Tobago’s administrative responsibility for marine waters should extend to a distance of 11 nautical miles from the low water mark of the island of Tobago,” Robinson-Regis said.

“This is a significant improvement because the current act gives the limit as six nautical miles,” she added.

She also emphasised that the notion was instituted by the Joint Select Committee (JSC) which included three members of the Opposition United National Congress (UNC).

Robison-Regis stated that although the bill was tabled by the People’s National Movement (PNM), it was committed to a JSC on October 14, 2020.

She said, “This committee consisted of a mixed Government and Opposition elected members of parliament, as well as Government, Opposition and Independent Senators.”

Robinson-Regis said, “It is of significant that the report of this house was signed by all parties including the Independent Senators but not by members of the Opposition, who have tabled a minority report.

“The committee held 22 meetings and two days of public consultations, however, the pandemic required us to adapt to the new normal where all meeting and consultations were held virtually,” she said.

The minister indicated that a summary of the committee’s work, the minutes of meetings and a summary of the public consultations held were appended to the JSC’s report.

In addition, Robinson-Regis added that Monday represented one step closer to repairing a broken relationship since the annexation of Tobago to Trinidad in 1889.

She referred to a literature surrounding the current Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Act 40 of 1996, where persons felt that Tobago deserved.

The minister added, “We the PNM have never sought to insert ourselves in the debate preferring instead to let the people of Tobago speak for themselves.The accusations made by the members of Opposite that the bills before us are PNM bills must be rejected flatly for what it is.”

Robinson-Regis said, “The dying gasp of a party drowning in their sea of irrelevance not only to the national community, but more so to the people of Tobago whom the Opposition in its various incarnations has always treated with abject disdain and disrespect; never once fielding a candidate in a general election.”


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