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The village section of Buccament Bay on Jan. 1, 2024.
The village section of Buccament Bay on Jan. 1, 2024.

The government is banning the cleaning of fish on Buccament Bay as Sandals Beaches Resort races to its March 27 official opening.

Further, vending and other activities, including where fishers can store their nets and moor their boats will be regularised as competition for space among various sectors intensifies in the Central Leeward community.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves met last week in Kingstown with fisher folk, fishing boat owners, vendors and small business owners in Buccament Bay to discuss a number of issues to be addressed at the beach.

He said on Star Radio, his Unity Labour Party’s radio station, that the meeting was also attended by Orando Brewster, MP for Central Leeward, where Buccament Bay is located; former MP Sir Louis Straker; Minister of Tourism, Carlos James, who also has ministerial responsibility for national parks; and, among others, Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves.

The beach in the area of Buccament Bay where the resort is being built remains closed to the public as it is a construction site.

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The remaining section of the beach has become popular with tourists and Gonsalves noted that it is “very packed” when cruise ships call at Port Kingstown.

“… we’re going to ban cleaning of fish on the beach. The fishermen point out that they’re not the ones who are doing the cleaning. People who come and buy fish there, they clean and leave the [guts, everything there]. That can’t be correct,” the prime minister said.

Shops in Buccament
The shops that the government and Sandals has built in Buccament Bay on Feb. 1, 2024.

He said the meeting spent a lot of time discussing things that the government and fishers have done and what needs to be done.

The prime minister pointed out that the government, with Sandals’ help, built six shops on the beach.

“And there are a couple of people who have rough and ready things like tarpaulin in and so on. Don’t look good. And they know that they’re only temporary there. But will go over that side,” the prime minister said.

He said that for other vendors, he had “suggested that we can build some small shops, booths-like for when the ships are coming in, holidays time, you can actually roll them on and off the facility.

“And there’s a big parking space behind where the shops are built, where they can actually be put when you take them off the beach.”

He noted that Sandals has built a groyne on the resort side of the Buccament River  “to help save the sand but a second groin needs to be built at the mouth of the river. …

“Of course, we will then have to do steps to go down into the water for in tri tri time,” he said, referring to the delicacy that is caught at the river mouth in Buccament Bay.

Boats at Buccament Bay
Boats moored at Buccament Bay on Jan. 1, 2024.

Since the groyne was constructed most of the muddy water when the river is in flood flows towards the village side of the beach.

“We need to have in place a staff to keep the beach clean,” the prime minister further said, adding that there are some people who try and clean the beach voluntarily.

“But we can’t allow that. I mean it’s not fair to people. Some people may still help,” he said, adding that the Central Water and Sewerage Authority has to be “properly involved with the collection of the garbage and so on, put a skip in an appropriate place and so on.”

He said the government needs to build “a proper shed and storage facilities in a particular area” for people to put their seine and to store a number of different items belonging to the fisher folk.

“Some boat men, fellas with boats, they are complying from the earlier discussion to keep their boats a little way out so that people bathe closer. But some not doing that. So that has to be properly regularized. We have to demarcate any area within which boats can’t come.”

He said there is a drain in the area that needs to be properly configured.

“And there’s a problem with one of the private sector people who they — they have a problem to solve inside of their own business. And they said on Monday, they will be solving that with some water running out into the road and coming down to a particular drain.”

Gonsalves said work has started on the village side of the road, adding, “because you know the road needs patching and you have to reorient a part of it. That project is on its way.”

The government is spending just over EC$3 million to build a concrete road from Pembroke to the resort.

Vending in Buccament Bay
A vending operation at Buccament Bay on Feb. 1, 2024.

The prime minister further said vending on the beach has to be regularised as well as throughout the country.

He said the New Democratic Party passed a law in the early 1990s banning vending on beaches.

“But it has only been implemented haphazardly; matter has been inchoate. In recent times, not at all, except when there are such egregious excesses that police have to step in and say, No, no, no, no, no, you’re gone beyond all reasonable amounts.”

He said there has been consultation on a review of the law.

“And there is a review of the regulations to have proper regulation and we have to train people and have badges and all the rest of it, those who are licensed vendors, etc. Do it in a properly structured manner.”

The prime minister said the tourism product is enhanced all over the country.

“And where you could have let some things go laissez faire, kinda anything goes, though the Tourism Authority when we brought it in, put in standards and so on and so forth, these things have to be properly regularised. Because everybody acknowledges, while you live and let live, it is an important principle, the matter of live and let live has to take place within a structured framework,” Gonsalves said.

“Look, if it’s done properly, there’s lots of money to be made by everybody, you know,” he said.

He further stated that some mooring that the Maritime Administration has given permission to install will have to be shafted as the authorities had not taken enough account of fishermen’s concerns.