ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A local marine biologist has cautioned legislators that any trawling of Antigua & Barbuda’s waters would be “irresponsible” and possibly dangerous to the island’s delicate marine system.
During his contribution to the budged debate, Antigua Labour Party (ALP) leader Gaston Browne said one of his party’s medium-term strategies – if they regained power – would be to obtain fishing trawlers.
Browne said a “few” of the vessels would be acquired from Japan and local fisherman would be trained to use them.
They would be used to fish, what he called, the “under-used and unexploited” Exclusive Economic Zone, which is the largest in the Eastern Caribbean.
However, marine biologist John Mussington warned that what Browne called “unexploited” might just morph into an exploitation of marine life, if an in-depth feasibility study is not conducted before such a venture.
“That would be a very irresponsible statement to make and a very irresponsible policy to implement,” the biologist said.
He noted that the cost-benefit analysis must be a major part of the study.
“The first question is, are those fish really there to be caught?” he queried.
Mussington added, “You spend $10 million investing in these big trawlers and find out, down the road, that what these trawlers were designed to catch do not really exist here.”
Browne said that 10,000 tons of fish and fish products could be trawled annually from the waters off the twin-island nation.
Mussington, however, was unsure of that claim, saying, “We don’t know.”
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)