LETTER: About Mill Reef Club and my right of way to the dock

26

To Whom it May Concern.

I write to ask the question in search of clarification on whether the Mill Reef Club has been granted dispensation to operate outside of the laws which govern our land of Antigua and Barbuda. I am appealing any information that can be offered to me on this matter by those in the know.

As a fisherman who has operated out of the fishing dock for over 30 years, I have long been subjected to the continued efforts of the Mill Reef Club to impede local fishermen from accessing the fishing dock and ultimately prohibit our right to make use of said fishing dock.

I am also fully aware that as the dock is located on one of Antigua’s beaches, locally known as Frye’s Head, I should have full right of access.

Despite my boat being moored there and me having used this dock to go fishing each day for a substantial portion of my life, I have encountered more attempts than I can count whereby the security and management will concoct one bogus reason or another to prevent my right of way to the dock.

This despite it being well known that one of the conditions that had originally been agreed between Mill Reef and the local fishermen was that they would continue to have unobstructed access to the beach that they had used to moor their boats and conduct their business since time immemorial.

Therefore, I can think of no legitimate reason that there should be any dispute about any of the local fishermen being able to work out of Frye’s Head Beach. Nevertheless, over the years, the Mill Reef Club have actively taken steps to inhibit my access and impacted my livelihood.

There have also been occasions where my wife who has regularly accompanied me to the dock has been prevented from entering the Mill Reef Club. On one occasion the Mill Reef security staff even acknowledged that while they were aware it was my truck that she was driving, they would not let my wife into the premises despite them having full knowledge that she had dropped me to the fishing dock that morning and that I was waiting on the dock for her to collect me!

As part of my work, I regularly do deep sea diving with tanks which holds inherent dangers, therefore instances such as I have described above have left me with understandable concerns that should I face an emergency where for example I required someone to bring me oxygen or any other form of urgent assistance, would Mill Reef personnel prevent this potentially lifesaving equipment from being delivered to me?

Understandably this ongoing situation causes unnecessary stress, and I am baffled as to why anybody should have to face irrational and unmerited obstacles when trying to earn a living.

I am not an employee of the Mill Reef Club and have no interest in any of their properties or equipment so feel that their treatment is wholly unreasonable.

Due to these unjustified actions of the Mill Reef Club personnel, myself and fellow local fisherman have been forced to take time out of work and incur personal financial costs to seek legal counsel in a bid resolve the issue once and for all.

This action was taken in the hope that it would thereby enable us to go about our daily business without the excessive and unwarranted attempts which effectively prevent us from making an honest living as is our full right to do so.

I suspect that it is possible that the lawyers that were approached were intimidated by the weight that the Mill Reef Club name carries which may have deterred them from taking up the case, as ultimately, I was unable to secure representation.

However, the fact that whenever I have challenged the Mill Reef Club to produce any paperwork to support their stance and inconsistent policies with regard to accessing the Frye’s Head fishing dock they are unable to do so, tells me that their actions are completely arbitrary and, in my opinion, reveals their discrimination towards Antiguan nationals.

Not only does it seem that the lawyers are intimidated, but this appears to be the case for the Government also (specifically the Fisheries division).

As mentioned previously, this situation has been happening to fishermen for a long while at the Mill Reef Club, and we as fishermen are constantly having to be battling for our own rights which were handed down by the court and clarify the agreement between Mill Reef and the Fishermen.

There was an occasion that they called a meeting with the intention it seemed to intimidate us as present at that meeting were policemen, coast guards, fisheries agents, Mill Reef lawyers, some Club members and management members.

Only us Fishermen were on our own with them telling the authorities that they only wanted to let in Fishermen with license.

Firstly, there should be no barrier across the entrance to the Mill Reef Club as this prevents anyone from entering, even beach goers.

There have been many times that the security has given us a hard time to enter resulting in us having no choice but to block the road until police arrive.

They eventually end up allowing access, but I think it is essential that the police need to educate themselves about the history of Mill Reef and the Fishermen and the ruling from the court case to prevent these instances from happening time and time again.

I would very much welcome a copy of that judgement if anyone can assist as it seems as if the white owners at the Mill Reef Club do not want to be in our midst, but only to enjoy our country.

What is right is right and what is wrong is wrong and this behaviour surely falls into the latter category and therefore must be challenged.

I would appreciate any and all genuine responses which may assist in finding a favourable resolution in order for me to go about earning a living without the harassment and stress that is currently being afforded to me and my fellow fishermen by the Mill Reef Club.

Signed, A Humble Fisherman

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26 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Humble Fisherman,
    Please excuse the bad manners of my fellow whites in Antigua. The American Boomer generation knows not what they do anywhere they reside. Their selfishness and self indulgence knows no boundaries. The disparity you speak of is one of the many reasons I am now a citizen of your beautiful country. The main reason why I am here is something they will never know: the kindness, selflessness, caring, beautiful people of St John’s, Liberta, Crosbies, Dickenson Bay, to name a few. I hope this all works out for you.

  2. From my understanding, all beaches in Antigua should be accessible by anyone who wishes to visit whether the land it is situated on is owned or not. In cases where homes/hotels have beach property, beach goers/fishermen/yachties etc. should have full use and have access up to the sand line(they cannot go onto property).. as for the dock, this depends on whether the dock was built by Mill Reef Club/another party or what’s stipulated in the written agreement. If it is built by the club or homeowners, then it’s totally up to them to say who can and can’t use it.. If built by an outside party/government or the villagers, providing there is nothing in writing stating otherwise, then anyone is within their rights to use said dock. In the case where there is a written agreement, then all parties involved should adhere to what is in writing as it pertains to the usage of the dock.

  3. But of course I stand corrected!

    I hope both fishermen/beach goers and the stakeholders at Mill Reef Club can all come to a peaceful solution so that everything works out in the best interest of all involved.

  4. Why are there no responses from Antiguans to this?
    When will black people recognise what happens to one will eventually happen to all. These white folks are making their monies in a predominantly black Island while simultaneously discriminating against the Islands people. Why is the Antiguan government allowing this occur, unchallenged? We have got to do better for our people. Time to stand up against bigotry.

  5. The black politicians selling out we black birth right. Same thing happened to the vendors in Jolly harbor. The work permits that are being signed for whites to come here and take up Jobs our children are more than capable. We have a hotel training school . We send off our young people to study hotel management, food and beverage management. Yet we offer work permit for expats to manage simple Resturant. Maintainance managers and Secetary. These jobs should be published in the new papers and at immigration. They we have free movement of Caribbean people. So professionals from other Caribbean countries should be given the opportunity before bringing European etc. we speak of Slavery and want them folks to pay. Yet right now we have them pushing around our people that are more qualified. They get ahead just by the mare color of their skins.

  6. I’m pretty sure this man has no case here. I am a born Antiguan and from what I see here, I think his wife has no right to enter the mill reef property by vehicle bc it is a private property, a gated security private protected property. Secondly, I would think that mill reef built that dock and if they did then once again that is their private property, and if so he has no right to just use it as he pleases unless he can provide the actual written agreement which states that the local fishermen are allowed to use that dock. Lastly, all beaches are public but only up to so many feet of the waterline so once again he would only be able to use the beach up to a certain point after which it becomes private land again. So I really do t think he has a case here at all.

  7. Son of Mami_Wata and Papa_Elegba, CHRISTened #Jumbee_Picknee(Spirit_Child) at life’s #CROSSroads of, SWASTIKA & SQUARE says…

    The whole issue of the Beaches, all 365 of them which have being declared PUBLIC, must be revisited to deal with…
    (a)…ingress and egress!
    (b)…public parking!
    (c)…restrooms!
    (d)…picnicking shelter areas!

    Maria Bird-Browne, the new political protégée on the block, these are issues which must be dealt with, if you say, that you are in poor people corner.
    Basically, the beach is the only place where people can go to relax and relieve some stress, since, most Communities don’t even have defined, designed, built nor maintained green spaces such as parks, botanical gardens etc(yes, the National Parks are developing certain areas as parks, but more can and must be done).

    The vexing issue of Mill Reef Club and access to the beaches which their properties are adjacent to have being ongoing since the 1950’s when TOURISM began to replace Agriculture as our main industry.

    Again, Maria Bird-Browne, you can put your legalese to great use, use eminent domain to accomplish something great for the Nation!

    The people will have to be more responsible when using the beaches/public spaces and for the #True_Love of Country. Therefore, such things as vandalism, trashing, etc will carry serious charges and fines!
    The property owners who fail to comply will faces serious charges and fines as well.

    #Do
    #Work

  8. I’m pretty sure this man has no case here. I am a born Antiguan and from what I see here, I think his wife has no right to enter the mill reef property by vehicle bc it is a private property, a gated security private protected property. Secondly, I would think that mill reef built that dock and if they did then once again that is their private property, and if so he has no right to just use it as he pleases unless he can provide the actual written agreement which states that the local fishermen are allowed to use that dock. Lastly, all beaches are public but only up to so many feet of the waterline so once again he would only be able to use the beach up to a certain point after which it becomes private land again. So I really dont think he has a case here at all.

    • The only way you can think that he doesn’t have a point is if you have an idea or know what the agreement between the fishermen/mill reef/government of A&B says. If you have no clue then frankly speaking you are just talking because you are on mill reefs side without proper knowledge of that said agreement.

      • If you understood what ‘MOOT POINT’ means you would not have written that comment. Further, his comment is clearly not defending the fisherman.

        MOOT Point, according to the dictionary means: An issue that is subject to, or open for, discussion or debate.

        It is better to be silent and be thought a fool than to talk and remove all doubt.

  9. How can a beach be public but a dock which is built on it be private? Doesn’t the land owner also have to provide a route for the public to access the beach? Wouldn’t this also make the Jolly Harbour situation somewhat illegal?

  10. @question. Beaches are public but u can get permission from the relevant authorities to build a dock if requested and approved. This does not mean that the public can use that dock, they can use the beach but not the privately built dock.

  11. Many thanks for your contributions and comments so far. Please allow me to clarify a couple of points;

    I refer to the fishemans dock several times in the letter as this is how the beach is referred to locally, but there is in fact no physical dock currently built on that site, it is simply a small sandy beach which was used prior to Mill Reef Club being established and has continued to be used for that purpose alone whenever we are able to get access. As such the Fryes Head beach / dock is where several boats belonging to local fisherman have been moored.

    Regarding my wife entering the Mill Reef property, as mentioned in the letter this has been the case when she has driven me to work and taken the vehicle for her own use. My point here was to highlight that as this is a regular occurence and the Mill Reef security team are familiar both with her and my vehicle, the occasion mentioned here was yet another attempt at them to make things unnecessarily difficult for us local fishermen.

    • @A Humble Fisherman…

      David Edwards(now deceased) along with other fishermen took the Mill Reef Club/Owners to Court and won their case.
      I’m not certain, as to all of the liitigants who were involved, but the case was tried in the Parham Court in those days. Therefore, a precedent has being set by the Courts.

      Check with the Courts archives!

      Mill Reef Club is one reason why FREETOWN always VOTE against ALP/ABLP.

      Wilmouth Daniel should never have relinquish St. Phillips South(I know that allegedly he’s a pimp, but it’s the MO of the Nations politicians), again Wilmouth Daniel should have groomed someone, to keep this SAFE SEAT for UPP in the Government.

      RASpect!

  12. Firstly: this fisherman wants public support, but has not the “balls” to sign his name.
    Secondly: a beach and a dock fall are NOT THE SAME and fall under different laws.
    Whereas… the law guarantees beach access, a dock can be built, with DCA permission, on and seaside property.
    He needs to build his own dock.

  13. Fact check : Mill Reef has a license as a Club which has special considerations not necessarily like a hotel. Further there are alliances between Mill Reef and some Ministries like Education where they give scholarships, and the Mill Reef Fund which helps variously. The people of Newfield for years have made up a major percentage of the employees during the first years – now the new Mill Reefers are not as solicitous as those older US folks, a lot of whom has passed on. They have opened up employment to non-Antiguans and the chummy atmosphere has changed. The peaceful co-existence is no longer at Mill Reef and Antiguans are now suffering for the thefts and tying up of old people while stealing, and other covered up incidents bad for their reputation.

  14. People think that giving you the right of access means trespassing whenever you want. If you Fisherman think you have a case, take it to the court.

    • @From The Sideline…plain and simple public access to Our National Park, the Beach MUST be revisited, to deal with…

      (i)…ingress and egress.
      (ii)…public parking
      (iii)…restrooms
      (iv)…picnic pavilions

      Again, the beach is basically the place where Nationals go to, in order to relieve stress, since, outside of the Cricket/football fields, a few unkept basketball, netball, volleyball, tennis courts, RECREATIONAL FACILITIES, to include flower gardens/parks, botanical gardens etc are woefully lacking in many communities!

      Long Bay looks like I’ll become like Mill Reef once, they established a Gate to the entrance at Devils Bridge, and charge a ridiculous entrance fee like what is happening at Shirley Heights.

      • You know the local that has the land at Valley Church. When Five O’clock comes he puts a chain in front of the road, and no one can get in or out. No one challenges him because he is a local. But you guys like to challenge foreigners. Again if he thinks he has a case, let him take it to the court.

        • @From The Sideline…please read and understand clearly..:

          A…as for a Court case, Mr. David Edwards and other fishermen won their case in the Parham Court years ago.

          B…I could careless whether the property owner is local, foreign, alien or Jumbee, when it comes to ACCESS TO OUR BEACHES S, what have being legally declared to be PUBLIC, we must now revisit those laws, to address this very vexing and contentious issue of PUBLIC BEACHES.
          Your political protégés Gaston Browne and Maria Bird-Browne owe the Nation and by extension, the good which came to poor people by way, of Vere Cornwall Bird Sr.
          They owe the Nation this much.

          It’s not too late to correct and strengthen the laws on the books, as they pertain to PUBLUC BEACHES.

  15. Understand your pain . Trying to take on banks insurance companies or big business in Antigua , you are gonna catch hell to find a lawyer to take your case . All the best

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