Fishermen and Boat Owners still Upset about New Ordinance

Local fisherman gathered on the bay. Photo: BES-Reporter.

Oranjestad, St. Eustatius- The fisherman and boat owners on St. Eustatius are still upset about all the rules and regulations proposed in a new Boat Ordinance.

While a meeting is slated on Monday between the fisherman and boat owners, The BES-Reporter understand that tensions about the new Ordinance are running high. The first grievance against the Ordinance is the Dutch text. “Most of the fishermen on the island don’t speak Dutch”, a spokesperson for the fishermen said. “How do you expect our people to read and understand all that’s written in this ordinance?”

Lack of facilities

Another area of dismay is the fact that, while Governments seems to want to impose many new rules and regulations by means of the new ordinance, the facilities offered to boat owners stay behind.

“Fishermen in distress cannot call the Harbor Office, because the radio signal is very poor. Secondly the government does not even own a rescue boat. Even worse: when there is a emergency situation, it is we who have to provide assistance”, according to one boat owner.

According to the boat owners, proposed regulations are haphazard and made up ‘on the go’, regardless of the fact if they are reasonable and practical or not.


Another grievance is the fact that the new ordinance seems to put limitations on what boat owners of an SE registered vessel can or cannot do.

“This goes against our culture and our traditions”, said one of the boat owners. The boat owners also point to the fact that so far, no disaster has ever happened with one of the island’s boats. “We have a perfect safety record. So what is the problem”?

Pushing for ferries?

The fishermen and boat owners are also afraid that the new regulations are a way of pushing them out of the way so that a government-sponsored ferry can take over. “We were not consulted and we are not in agreement”, according to the group in conversation with the BES-Reporter.

According to information from the BES-Reporter and according to information recently provided in the Island Council, the Kindom Government is currently executing a study into how a ferry system between the island could work.

The text of the ordinance is in Dutch: a language many local boat owners and fisherman are not able to read all that well.

Measuring stick

The fisherman are also concerned about the fact that the new rules & regulations of the new Boat Ordinance will apply to them, but not for their Saban counterparts. “So you will be measuring with two measuring sticks. If we have to comply with rules and regulations that they don’t have to, we are holding the short end of the stick”.

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