Waitt Institute concerned by alleged ‘death threat’ to worker on Barbuda

(picture source: waittfoundation.org)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – An alleged death threat made to a representative of the Barbuda Blue Halo initiative by a Barbudan fisherman, has led the Waitt Institute to level complaints with the Barbuda Council over concerns for the safety of its workers.

Council Chairman and Barbuda Affairs Minister Arthur Nibbs, who confirmed reports that the threat was made, said the allegation came from Blue Halo project head, Dr Ayanna Johnson.

“She did inform me that, in fact, one of her technicians was in a situation where a fisherman reportedly made threatening statements to him. So there is some truth to that allegation,” he said.

Nibbs said he has since advised Dr Johnson to submit a formal report to the council, which will then register it with the police.

However, despite the threat allegations, Nibbs said there is no need to boost security since the incident was isolated. He said the council has since apologised to the Waitt Institute for the incident and has “given a solid undertaking … that matters like these will not occur again.”

But President of the Barbuda Fisherman’s Cooperative Devon Warner has dismissed the death threat allegations.

The fisherman said the action is uncharacteristic of Barbudans.

“Barbudans are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in, but to threaten somebody with physical bodily harm is not the way we do things,” he stated.

Warner said he has always advised the nearly 40 association members that their issues are not with Blue Halo, but with the Barbuda Council.

He said that, to date, he has not received any complaints from Blue Halo, the police or any other official on the matter.

Sources close to the Barbuda Police Station said no report of the incident has been lodged with the force up to press time yesterday.

The Blue Halo Ocean Conservation initiative is a programme undertaken by the Waitt Institute that is geared toward the sustainable management of Barbuda’s fisheries.

Nibbs said enforcement of the five no-fishing zones and other restrictions under Blue Halo, which were set for implementation this month, is now more likely to happen by the end of January.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)