Notes From The Margin

August 6, 2007

Sigh – here we go again…. TnT/Barbados Fishing Negotiations

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised but the Trinidad Express posted an editorial today on the fishing agreement talks.

Not long ago Prime Minister Manning stated that there was some sort of draft fishing treaty between this country and Barbados and that it was subject to discussions at meetings between the technocrats of both countries. Now we learn that a mission from Barbados is holding discussions in Tobago with a Trinidad and Tobago team, led by the head of the fisheries department of the THA.


What we find extremely strange is that there does not appear to be any involvement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Food Production and Marine Resources. When the first treaty was being negotiated some years ago everything was conducted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Knowsley, with top career diplomats leading the team. There were however advisors and observers. The diplomats were all fully versed in the requirements of the United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and were briefed on the technicalities of the dynamics of the flying fish industry

The question that we must therefore ask is-is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs involved in these meetings?


Of course, the simple answer is that the discussion is now REALLY about fish. In the discussions before what was at stake was the maritime boundary between TnT and Barbados. That has now been established beyond any quarrel. What the discussions now center on is the issue of fish and fish only. This has moved the Barbados/TnT agreement from something of strategic national importance to Trinidad to a local issue best dealt with by the THA.


No doubt the Trinidad government will have to answer more of these questions in the coming months, as most Trinidadians STILL seem to be under the impression that this was always just about fish.


Why the big difference in the negotiating teams? Now it’s about fisheries, before it wasn’t.



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