ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A non-governmental organisation (NGO) has taken action to force Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer to fast-track fisheries regulations that would ensure the protection of Antigua & Barbuda’s vital fisheries resources.
The Antigua Conservation Society (ACS) on Monday commissioned an online petition urging Spencer to take immediate action to save Antigua & Barbuda’s coral reefs and other aspects of marine life.
The petition on www.change.org, which garnered more than 300 votes in less than 24 hours, highlights how the lack of fisheries management is taking a toll on the fragile marine ecosystems.
The ACS is looking to amass 1000 signatures before taking their case to Prime Minister Spencer.
At the centre of the petitioners’ call is for the Antigua & Barbuda leader to advance the implementation of regulations for the Fisheries Act of 2004 and the accompanying regulations.
The Act makes provision for a closed season for certain species and prohibits certain types of fishing methods among other measures. But stakeholders believe the implementation of the regulations is being held back by Fisheries Minister Hilson Baptiste who has not signed off on the regulations.
Chief Fisheries Officer Cheryl Appleton-Jeffery confirmed that the regulations were being delayed “by the relevant authorities” although she did not name Baptiste.
Businessman Eli Fuller, one of the more vocal members of the ACS, told OBSERVER Media that “the Fisheries Act of 2004 is still sitting on the minister’s desk unsigned.”
“I am very happy that the Prime Minister is acknowledging that fisheries is under serious pressure and hopefully he will ask Hilson Baptiste to get that document signed so that the regulations can be put in place,” Fuller said.
People wishing to vote can go to www.change.org; search for Antigua.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)