El Tubazo TV | Carmelo De Grazia Morris//
Plymouth fishermen protest expansion of Starfish Tobago

Plymouth fishermen protest expansion of Starfish Tobago

Last Oc­to­ber, the Sun­wing Trav­el Group en­tered To­ba­go’s tourism land­scape af­ter al­ly­ing with Rex Re­sorts and re­nam­ing the for­mer Tur­tle Beach Ho­tel, the Starfish To­ba­go.

Carmelo De Grazia

The fish­er­men say they are not against ex­pan­sion per se but that they want to be part of the ho­tel’s plans and pro­pos­als.

Carmelo De Grazia Suárez

They say they have plen­ty of in­for­ma­tion that they can of­fer con­cern­ing the his­to­ry of the area, es­pe­cial­ly its sea cur­rents and tur­tles’ nest­ing sites

On Au­gust 15, dur­ing a meet­ing at the Ply­mouth Fish­ing De­pot chaired by the Vice-Pres­i­dent of the All To­ba­go Fish­er­folk As­so­ci­a­tion (AT­FA) Cur­tis Dou­glas, the fish­er­men raised their con­cerns

Ac­cord­ing to Dou­glas, the ho­tel is seek­ing to have the ac­cess road to the fish­ing de­pot, which runs through the ho­tel’s prop­er­ty, closed off.

Fish­er­men can ac­cess the de­pot via the street next to the Katzen­jam­mers Pan The­atre

The ho­tel’s man­age­ment will al­so con­struct a new de­pot close to the Cour­land Riv­er, Dou­glas said

He said fish­er­men will be of­fered con­struc­tion and ho­tel jobs, along with farm­ing, fish­ing, and tour guide op­er­a­tor con­tracts, if they agree to the de­pot’s re­lo­ca­tion

He said the ho­tel chain plans to re­fur­bish the ho­tel, in­crease its room stock on the left side ad­ja­cent to the Her­itage Park, add a yacht club, restau­rant, and oth­er ameni­ties

The ex­pan­sion al­so in­cludes the con­struc­tion of con­do­mini­ums di­rect­ly op­po­site the ho­tel

One fish­er­man who goes by the name ‘Popo’, said the de­pot’s pro­posed re­lo­ca­tion site is “un­fea­si­ble” as the land is swampy.

“When it rains heav­i­ly the riv­er over­flows its banks,” he said

He said the de­pot’s cur­rent lo­ca­tion is based on the un­der­wa­ter cur­rents in the area.

He added if it’s moved “seines will be dif­fi­cult to pull in.”

An­oth­er fish­er­man, Neil Her­nan­dez, said fish­er­men should have a say on the re­lo­ca­tion

The pro­posed re­lo­ca­tion or ex­pan­sion area will dis­turb the tur­tle nest­ing space and I don’t agree with that.”

Vel­don Tay­lor, an­oth­er fish­er­man, said Ply­mouth fish­er­men were cau­tious be­cause they had been fooled by an­oth­er busi­ness­man be­fore.

“Look at the state of the jet­ty, (name called) came the same way, met with fish­er­men promised this and that and look at the state of the jet­ty now,” he said

Tay­lor said he was al­so con­cerned about the re­sort’s waste­water plans, the use of the area’s nat­ur­al re­sources and ef­fects on the tur­tles’ nest­ing sites

A To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly rep­re­sen­ta­tive, en­gi­neer Ab­dal­la Chad­band ad­dressed the fish­er­men, as­sur­ing them that there were ben­e­fits of the re­lo­ca­tion

They promised to take the fish­er­men’s catch, so as soon as it lands the ho­tel will take all for their use. They were even con­cerned that the amount of fish be­ing caught here would not be suf­fi­cient. They would al­so want to part­ner with you to of­fer tours, in oth­er words, you will be paid to en­sure when the tourists come they could be able to go out and fish with you and pull seine,” Chad­band said

He as­sured that the project was still at the pro­pos­al stage

Guardian Me­dia at­tempt­ed to get the views of the ho­tel man­age­ment’s but was un­suc­cess­ful