Fishermen win VHF radios from NTRC
April 23, 2013

Fishermen win VHF radios from NTRC

The National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) is doing all in its power to make sure that seamen are equipped with the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) radios.{{more}}

Administrative officer at the NTRC Andra Keizer said that the NTRC has embarked on an island wide raffle in which they will raffle off 50 GMDSS radios – five in 10 different fishing districts.

The first of these raffles was held on Monday at the Kingstown Fish Market at Little Tokyo. The raffle was drawn by onlooker Jomella Payne and saw five fishermen who operate from the Kingstown area winning radios.

Winning on Monday were Leslie Clarke, Eli Slater, Cornelius Roberts, George Browne and Andrew Gould.

Clarke, who hails from Green Hill said that he has been a fisherman for over 15 years and he is very happy to have won the modern radio. He stressed that the radio is an important tool while at sea, as on June 28, 2011, while fishing, the boat he was in capsized and he needed communication and didn’t have.

“I turned over four miles off Biabou and I swam for the whole day until I came ashore in Bridgetown…if I had this sort of communication, I would have received help”, said Clarke.

Another winner, Slater, who comes from Clare Valley, said that he has been a fisherman for over 20 years and the radio will help him to boost his communication at sea.

He revealed that in 2009, he capsized 55 miles north east of St Vincent and was eventually rescued by another fisherman, Angrew Gould, who was fishing in the vicinity.

“I was rescued 14 minutes after we turned over…I was with other fishermen, Cedric Walters and Kendol Degrads, and when Gould was passing, he saw the debris and we also had an oar up in the air with my shirt on it”, said Slater, who added that his radio and phone were swept away when the boat capsized.

He stressed that he is very grateful to have won the raffle, as in case of an emergency he would be able to summon help instead of relying on luck alone.

Roberts, another winner, also comes from Clare Valley. He said that he has been a fisherman all his life and “I feel good about winning the radio”.

He said that the radio is a good thing and he hopes that the fishermen take care of them.

Gould and Browne were at sea at the time of the raffle and were represented by family members who put their names in the raffle.

Meanwhile, the NTRC’s Keizer said that the raffle will take place in Calliaqua in the upcoming weeks, while the other districts will be notified of when the NTRC team will visit their area. A total of 50 radios will be raffled.

Registered fishermen desirous of obtaining the radios can purchase them at a subsidized price of EC$400 at the Lulley’s Fishing Supplies chain of stores located in Rose Place, Bequia and Union Island. Persons can also purchase them at the NTRC offices located in the National Insurance Services Building on Upper Bay Street.

The GMDSS radios allows a vessel in distress at sea to send out an SOS signal just by pressing a button. The button press will send a message to the Coastguard, which will tell rescuers exactly where a boat in distress is located and who exactly the boat belongs to.

The GMDSS service was officially launched on Tuesday, October 2, 2011, at the Coastguard base in Calliaqua.

Universal Service Fund (USF) Administrator Kyron Duncan said that the radios can save lives and encouraged fishermen to purchase them, as the NTRC has subsidized the cost of the radios. The GMDSS service was paid for by the USF and funds from the World Bank. The equipment and setting up of the service was done by telecommunications provider LIME, who submitted the only bid.

The GMDSS works on channel 70 while the NTRC Has Installed the Legacy channel 16. A third channel that can be switched to any of the maritime VHF channels is also available on the radio, while an additional channel allows for calls to be made to land lines or mobile phones.