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Northern Fishermen Unable to Pay Fishermen
Written by Wendy Auxillou
Thursday, 07 June 2007 Anglers Angry At Northern Fishermen Co-op
This year's lobster season opens next week Friday but some members of the Northern Fishermen Cooperative are up in arms because they still haven't been paid for last year's season. Close to 50 fishermen showed up at Northern Fishermen's Office on North Front Street this morning to collect the remaining half of their payment for last season but most left empty handed. And if that wasn't bad enough, the fishermen are also complaining because no annual general meeting has been called. That's key because if it is held after the season starts on June 15th, most will be unable to vote since they'll be away at sea. But the pressing concern this morning was not co-op politics, but money and we spoke to some angry anglers who came from as far north as Sarteneja - or as far south as Monkey River for their money.

Fisherman #1,
"The poor fisherman works hard for his money and they don't want to pay nothing so we want to see if they will get pay or not get pay. They also don't want to have the annual meeting for the members. What happened to the fishermen, they don't have rights. The poor fisherman is suffering. They have to pay bills, they have to maintain their sons, maintain their house. Where will they get money if they don't get paid?"

Fisherman #2,
"Mr. Usher is asking for an extension to the 30th of July but if we fishermen stand up right now, we can get it for this Friday and I am not afraid because I work hard for that goddamn money."

Fishermen #3,
"They told us that 11:30 they will send something from the bank and then we can collect the rebates but we are waiting and right now it is after 12 and we haven't gotten any answer yet."

Keith Swift,
And you need your money?

Fishermen #3,
"I really need my money."

Keith Swift,
And where did you come from?

Fishermen #3,
"From way in Monkey River. We had to pay like $500 to charter something to bring us here."

Fishermen #4,
"I come from the same community like him, we are all the way south. For a couple of weeks now we've been hearing about the back pay and they just keep putting and putting us off and we got a phone call that today would be the real date so we came all the way from Monkey River, from deep south, and when we get here it is a big disappointment. They told us that pretty much by 11:30 they would have some papers they needed signed and they would get back to us but pretty much at this present moment I don't think we have anything to get. I am telling you from the bottom of my heart, the fishermen at Northern Fishermen Cooperative will get a screwing."

A Northern Fishermen Cooperative official told us by phone this evening that the fishermen have been paid. But the acting Registrar of Cooperatives Hugo Miranda confirmed that all the fishermen have not been paid. But more than that, Miranda says the cooperative cannot call a meeting because it has to submit an audited financial statement. It cannot do that because the cooperative is in negotiations with the DFC and the Belize Bank. The DFC you may have heard is auctioning the some of the cooperative's property. Miranda says the tentative date for a general meeting has been set for July 15th.

Last Updated ( Friday, 08 June 2007 )

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Usher and the rest of the board borrowed millions from the coop for personal use. Pay it back instead of auctioning off land.

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