Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) pay our sincere tributes to a former Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Marine Resources (1995-1999), Dr Reeza Mohammed.
Dr Mohammed goes down in history as the man who pioneered inclusion, stakeholder empowerment and public participation in government affairs and public administration.
Dr Mohammed was the only Minister of Agriculture to ever embrace the principle of inclusion by appointing the Multistakeholder Advisory and Monitoring Committee (MAC), which led to the adoption of the Fisheries Regulation (control of demersal trawling ) in 2002., as well as a series of other sustainability initiatives.
The MAC was the first committee ever to co-manage the function, policy and direction of a government division. Under his leadership, key stakeholders including the Shrimp Trawler Association, the Long Liner Association, recreational boat fishermen and stakeholders from all east, west, north and south coasts and from Tobago sat down alongside Fisheries Division, Coast Guard of Trinidad and Tobago, Environmental Management. Authority, the Institute of Maritime Affairs and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute to form the MAC.
Dr Mohammed took into account the views of stakeholders and did more than lip service to the principle of public participation and inclusion, which had enabled all of our key stakeholders and grassroots fishers to s ” increase interest and disseminate information to their communities.
This committee had briefed the ministry and the minister firsthand with reliable stakeholder feedback on the proposed plans and operating procedures that already existed, and it created harmony within the ministry, where members of all specters policies were included in face to face discussions. with all the regulators as well as all the main players in T&T fishing.
This was the only time we knew the fishery worked so well and there was hope that the future would be progressive and sustainable, and that the legislation would be accommodating and inclusive of the concerns that existed at the time. From then until now, we have remained like a ship without an anchor, adrift with no course, no hope and no certainty of the outcome.
Upon leaving the ministry and after the removal of the Panday government, the Manning administration dissolved the MAC without notice and without any recognition of its functioning, function and merit.
May Doctor Reeza Mohammed rest in peace. Our prayers are with his family at this time.
general secretary, FFOS