April 2020

Fishing in Anguilla’s Waters: Government Update


On 20 April, Executive Council again discussed the issue of fishing against the backdrop of the need to protect our borders and the wider corona virus threat. Recognising the particular difficulties for fisherfolk Executive Council agreed the following clarifications and amendments to the decision made on the 18th April 2020.

First – in the week beginning 20 April all fishers – licensed or unlicensed – will be able to retrieve catch from fish traps and secure any gear that is at sea if they so wish. Fishers wishing to take up this opportunity must do so between the 21st and 24th April between 5.00 am and 5.00 pm. These arrangements have been agreed with the Police Commissioner in compliance with the Emergency Regulations.

Fishers should note two points:

  • All fish caught during this period may be kept or sold by the fisher;
  • Should they wish to bait traps during these four days they may do so. However, going forward all fishers must comply with the requirements set out in paragraph 4, including being in possession of a license.

Secondly, a phased return to fishing. In the first instance, beginning on 30 April, fishers holding a valid licence as at 18 April 2020 will be permitted to fish under the following four conditions:

  • Their vessel is equipped with a GPS tracking device issued by the Department of Fisheries and fitted by a person authorized by the Police Commissioner. Once fitted, the GPS device must not be tampered with and no action taken which might cause it to lose power or signal. This applies whether the vessel is at sea, or on its secure mooring.
  • Fishing can only take place to the North of Anguilla. Fishers must not cross the longitudes marking the eastern and western ends of Anguilla. For the avoidance of doubt, this means no fishing in the waters between Anguilla and St. Martin.
  • Fishers must leave from and return to one of two harbours – Island Harbour or Sandy Ground. They must notify the RAPF of the harbour that they have chosen to operate from before their first trip to sea. And this can only be changed with the Police Commissioner’s prior written authorization.
  • Fishing can only take place between the hours of 5 am and 5 pm and on the following days allocated to each of the two harbours from which fishers must operate:
  • Island Harbour – Mondays and Thursdays;
  • Sandy Ground – Tuesdays and Fridays.

Thirdly, all fishers who are unlicensed as at 18th April 2020 can apply for a fishing licence from the 22nd April, 2020. They can resume fishing, other than on the 21st to 24th April, as soon as they meet the conditions set out in paragraph 4.

Executive Council believes these arrangements strike a balance between protecting the border and allowing some fishing. The GPS system will allow the Government to monitor the location of all boats which must remain away from the vulnerable southern coast. Any breach of any of the four conditions noted above will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

Executive Council will keep this issue under careful review. It is possible – if conditions permit – that further fishing may be allowed. In the interest of transparency, it is possible that these restrictions may be tightened if the circumstances require it.

We want to remind all unlicensed fishers that they must apply for a license. The Fisheries Department will be open from 8 am on Wednesday, 22 April. Unlicensed fishing will not be allowed.

All fishers should note that the possession of a licence will not – while the current COVID-19 restrictions remain in place – guarantee the right to fish. That will depend on meeting the requirements set out in paragraph 4, including the fitting of a GPS device, and the situation on the ground.