Fishermen are being encouraged to have their commercial fishing vessels re-registered, as the Fisheries Division undertakes a re-marking exercise to bring them in line with international standards.
The process of remarking these vessels is now under way, and will see fishing boats bearing registration numbers starting with 8P, which is the call sign for Barbados, followed by the hull number.
Fishermen can visit the Fisheries Division to have their vessels re-registered, or have the new number assigned when they go for their annual inspection.
Fishing vessels are currently marked similar to motor vehicles, with a letter that denotes the parish, such as X075.
Chief Fisheries Officer, Dr. Shelly-Ann Cox, explained that while the latter was a highly practised format in Barbados, changes were made at the international level 15 years ago, in an effort to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing.
Dr. Cox stated that once completed, Barbados will join countries such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica, which have already complied with the new regulations.
“We have received a lot of positive feedback so far around the exercise. Some people are sentimental and they want to keep their older numbers, but they understand it is a mandatory exercise [which] is for the best, and we will be conforming with international standards…,” she said.
Dr. Cox added that some influential boat owners were engaged to participate in a pilot to test the application procedure and implementation strategy.
The Chief Fisheries Officer explained that the objectives of the pilot were to promote compliance with global standards; improve the efficacy of operations by the Barbados Fisheries Division; and to support the implementation and evaluation of a successful launch of the vessel re-marking exercise.
To date, 20 of the 1,156 registered boats have been re-marked during the pilot phase of the exercise, which is also expected to highlight how many commercial boats are still active.
Meanwhile, Vessel Inspector with the Fisheries Division, Winston Gittens, said: “All boats are inspected annually. Between January and December, all the boats should have had at least one inspection. So, once you apply for inspection, you fill out the re-registration form and once there are no issues, the new number will be issued,” he said, adding that there was no cost attached.
Mr. Gittens also stated that the Barbados Coast Guard, Marine Police, the Port of Bridgetown, the Director of Maritime Affairs, the Telecommunications Unit, and other stakeholders were already made aware of the change in registration.
The process of remarking the commercial fishing vessels is expected to be completed by year-end.