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Paray to raise fishermen's issues

■ Carolyn Kissoon

MAYARO MP Rushton Paray has promised to raise critical issues in Parliament regarding safety measures for fishermen.

He said this after three Guayaguayare fishermen were lost at sea for five days.

The men, Walter Whiteman, Shaquille Charles and Antonio Frank Sandy, were found on Tuesday at a beach in Morne Diablo.

The men told a story of surviving on the fish they caught and rainwater.

Paray visited Charles at his home on Wednesday.

The MP made a commitment to the family that since he is a member of the Joint Select Committee established to look at the Fisheries Bill 2020, he will be raising the relevant matters to address several shortcomings as identified by Charles.

Paray assured the family that key issues such as mandatory navigation and safety/survival equipment be placed on all vessels; and proper survival techniques and training for all fishing boat captains and crew will be addressed at the parliamentary level.

Charles recounted the experience while adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, describing the life-saving choices which his crew had to make to ensure survival, Paray said.

Paray distributed gifts to the men who 'braved nature to survive five days on the open ocean'.

Relatives said the men spent the day resting at their homes on Wednesday.

The three men boarded a fishing pirogue, Rango Starr, at the Guayaguayare Fishing Port and set off last week Friday. They were expected to return the following day. But when the men did not arrive by nightfall relatives filed missing person reports at Mayaro Police Station. The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard was also alerted.

Relatives said fishermen from the area went out in search of the missing men and an aircraft was rented to comb the waters. But the men were not sighted.

On Tuesday, boat owner Matthew Kissoon said he received a call that the vessel carrying the men washed ashore on Morne Diablo beach.

Kissoon picked up the men in another boat and returned to Guayaguayare.

The three men were treated at the Mayaro Health Facility and allowed to go home.

The men said the boat engine malfunctioned as they were returning home on Saturday. They fashioned a makeshift paddle with a stick and two bucket covers to assist in guiding the vessel to safety.

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