Estimated EC$13,000 to bring the boat back home
August 6, 2010
Estimated EC$13,000 to bring the boat back home

Claiming that he has been given the “run around” by the government, Fisherman Mark Dennie has now taken matters{{more}} into his own hands to get his boat back from Puerto Rico.

Dennie, who along with two other fishermen, finally rowed his boat to shore in Puerto Rico, after being adrift for 10 days, says that the government has been slothful in fulfilling its promise to help get his boat back to St Vincent.

The boat has been in Puerto Rico since June 4, 2010, when the crew finally touched dry land after running into difficulty at sea on Fisherman’s Day, May 24, 2010.

At a media briefing on June 9, shortly after the fishermen’s return home, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves promised to help the men retrieve their vessel.

On Friday, July 30, 2010, Dennie, along with Caspar London and Fisherman Lloyd Baptiste set up an account at the St Vincent Co-Operative Bank Ltd. called the “Mark Dennie Fishing Vessel Recovery Fund”, to assist in the recovery on Dennie’s Fishing vessel, “Jah Love”.

It is estimated that it will cost EC$13,000 to bring the boat back home.

Sharing his dilemma with SEARCHLIGHT, the Rose Place resident said that he has visited several government ministries, including the Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Fisheries, but he has not received any concrete information on the status of his boat, which he says is presently in custody of a fisherman by the name of Pedro Mendez, in Puerto Rico.

Dennie said he later came into contact with Chief Fisheries Officer, Raymond Ryan, whom he said told him that money had been allocated to have the boat brought back to St Vincent, but permission has not yet been given for the release of the money.

When contacted, Ryan confirmed to SEARCHLIGHT that he had spoken to Dennie on the matter. He, however, made it clear that the Fisheries Division has no budget for matters relating to Dennie’s situation.

“I indicated to Dennie that there might be funds that can be utilised, but for me to utilise those funds, we have to get permission from the Ministry of Finance,” Ryan said.

Ryan further explained, before money is released, it has to go through the necessary channels and Dennie has to allow time for that to happen.

Dennie also said that he spoke with Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Montgomery Daniel, but was told by Daniel that he hardly had knowledge about the matter and would have to look into it.

Several attempts on Wednesday to contact Daniel proved futile as he was in Cabinet.

“To me, is like nobody doing anything and this is my livelihood…. I have been doing this for years and is not like I want my money, I just want some assistance to get back my boat, so that I can continue to make a living,” Dennie stressed.

Since his main source of income has been sidelined, Dennie says he is being supported by a small business he runs in Rose Place. “I am begging the general public for their assistance in helping me get my boat back…. I am sure I know more than 13,000 Vincentians,” Dennie said.

So far, approximately $1,000 has been paid into the fund to assist Dennie. The account number at the St. Vincent Cooperative Bank is 80411.