Vessel Monitoring System For Saint Lucia Fishers At Sea Amid Spike In Distress Calls – St. Lucia Times News

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

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Saint Lucia has begun rolling out a vessel monitoring system for fishers at sea amid a spike in distress calls from fishing vessels that encounter difficulties.

One veteran Vieux Fort fisherman, 64-year-old Marcellus George, is still missing after heading out to sea alone on Friday, August 5, 2022.

The Commander of the Marine Unit of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) Kentry Frederick disclosed that since July 1 this year, the unit received ten distress calls and attended to all but one to which Dominica and another partner nation responded some 90 miles West Northwest of Saint Lucia.

Commander Kentry Frederick

He said the nine local fishers in distress who received assistance from the Marine Unit encountered problems including running out of fuel and encountering engine failure.

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Frederick told St Lucia Times that the vessel monitoring device would be on registered fishing boats.

“In the event you are in distress it will send a signal to the receiving station which makes it easy for us to access the data and get to you quickly to save you,” Frederick explained

And he disclosed that this week, three fishing vessels in Castries were outfitted with the monitors.

There were also plans to place the monitors on some Vieux Fort boats on Thursday.

Frederick believes that the government may have to determine whether to make the devices mandatory.

“We are not comparing human life with dollars,” he asserted.

But at the same time, the Marine Police Commander revealed that a search and rescue operation is costly.

“There is no maintenance schedule for those engines and sometimes because of the Saharan dust and other matters that would restrict visibility, they would find themselves out of fuel and it has cost us almost $13,000 in terms of responding,” Frederick stated.

“If we were to engage a helicopter to assist with the search it costs XCD 6,754.21 per hour and a search is normally three to four hours in the air,” the senior RSLPF official told St Lucia Times.

“The French have had three sorties in terms of the last fisherman from Vieux Fort – the 64-year-old and we could say an average cost of $75,000 spent,” Frederick said.

“But more interestingly is the distress of going to the family members – what they have to deal with as a result of one person being lost at sea,” he declared.

Headline photo: Fishers put out to sea (Stock image)

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