ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A spokesperson for the Antigua Conservation Society (ACS) has said that he is not convinced by an announcement that draft fisheries regulations would be signed in a matter of weeks by Fisheries Minister Hilson Baptiste.
Eli Fuller told OBSERVER Media that the consultation process being sought by the minister is a backward step that would only delay the signing.
“We are going backward. We are not going forward. The minister wants to take 25 steps back with this talk shop that he wants to have,” the ACS spokesman said.
Fuller said the document is signature ready since a consultative process was already held in 2010.
“They are ready to be signed and they should have been signed years ago. So many international countries and organisations were promised that they are going to be signed and nothing has happened.
“You’ve had the technicians and consultants get together and they have developed these regulations so all you are supposed to do is sign the dotted lines,” Fuller added.
He said the ACS will move ahead with its petition to Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, calling on him to fast-track the signing that is expected to lead to better management of Antigua & Barbuda’s marine resources.
“Quite clearly, the petition is directed to the prime minister and the reason we have petitioned the prime minister is because the minister is not doing anything about it,” the conservationist said.
The petition, initiated last week, has so far attracted 1800 signatures out of the desired 2000.
When the target is met the ACS membership expects to meet with Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer to present him with a copy of the signatures and to urge him to fast-track its implementation.
Baptiste dismissed the petition yesterday calling it a waste of time that would not lead to a fast-tracking of the regulations.
If implemented, the new regulations will give authorities the power to effect a closed season for fishing and crack down on illegal practices in the sector.