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All at sea

Wade Gibbons

All at sea

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A CHRIST CHURCH FISHERMAN is seeking compensation from the Barbados Coast Guard after losing more than 20 miles of fishing line at sea last week Tuesday.
Victor Drayton of Ashby Land, Oistins, who has already sought legal counsel, is also seeking an explanation from the Coast Guard over the alleged misconduct of one of its officers.
Drayton told the DAILY NATION that he, along with his son Rico Brathwaite, nephew Andre Best and Mitch Johnson, set out from the Bridgetown Fisheries Division on a fishing expedition aboard Ocean Princess III about 5 p.m.
Drayton, who is captain of the vessel, related that about 7 p.m. when they were approximately out 40 miles they were intercepted by a small boat with three men in camouflage attire. He said the men showed no “blue light” to indicate they were law enforcement officers as required when outside 12 miles of Barbados’ coastline. He said the men identified themselves as Coast Guard officials, indicated they wanted to do a routine check, and two of them boarded.
Drayton explained that at the time they had already set down several miles of line and the reel was still in motion.
“The crew knew the drill and when the officers came aboard we automatically went to the back of the boat,” Drayton said, noting he observed that one officer had a rifle while another went into the cabin and started to search.
Drayton said there was no contraband on his boat and he had no problem with the search.
But he noted everything went haywire when the third officer boarded the boat.He said the first two officers identified him as their superior and he also took part in the search of the boat.
Drayton said the senior officer told him they were removing his crew off the boat and were taking the vessel to Pelican.
He recounted that the senior officer wanted him to take in the reel but he told him he would first have to rest. Additionally, his crew had been taken off the boat, transported to a larger nearby Coast Guard vessel, and it would have been impossible to take in the line by himself.
He said the senior officer cut the fishing line and this resulted not only in the loss of the line, but also over 300 hooks and about 360 snaps and a similar number of lead swivels. He said he also lost more than 57 buoys.
He said the crew were brought to Pelican where a further search of the vessel was carried out and they were then released.
Drayton said the loss of fishing gear had been valued at US$10 190.82, with freight at US$900.
Yesterday, Barbados Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Sean Reece said the Coast Guard vessel was investigating suspicious activity at sea and this led to the Ocean Princess being boarded. 
He added it was searched by members of the Royal Barbados Police Force. He noted there was a report surrounding the incident and an internal investigation had commenced.