Government Earns $57 Million from Levy on Conch


The Government earned some $57 million during the 2009 fishing season, from a levy imposed on conch exports, Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton, has reported.
Speaking at the closing ceremony for the Improving Jamaica’s Agricultural Productivity Project (IJAPP) fisheries extension training course, held at the Fisheries Division’s offices, Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston, on April 21, Dr. Panton explained that the regime governing the levy sees the government collecting a cess on every pound of conch exported.
“Last year it was US$0.75 per pound and that allowed us to collect $57 million, which has been channeled into a Fisheries Management Development Fund, which is overseen by a Board, chaired by (financier), Mr. Christopher Berry. That Board, in collaboration with the Fisheries Division of the Ministry, has a very specific mandate – to look at how to develop our fisheries sector. It looks at sustainable issues, it looks at even fish sanctuaries, for example, the baseline studies that we need to do, so that we can understand where the bases are,” Dr. Panton outlined.
The Chief Technical Director pointed out that the unit price is slated to increase to US$1 per pound, this season.
Dr. Panton added that the Board also focuses on other critical issues, such as the safety of fisher-folk while at sea. He said that, to this end, the Ministry was exploring the possibility of developing a communication system that would facilitate stakeholders’ access to shortwave radios, enabling them to signal for assistance, in the event that they get into difficulties while at sea.
“Safety at sea is very important and we are not taking that issue lightly. I think this proposed undertaking augurs well for the sector. Basically, once we review it (fisheries sector development) in years to come, we can see what sort of improvement has taken place and what else needs to be done. So, that Fund has a very specific purpose,” Dr. Panton explained.
The five-week training course, which was held at the Fisheries Division, formed part of the capacity building activities being implemented under IJAPP’s sustainable marine fisheries management component. Just over 30 persons, inclusive of instructors and officers, participated in the course. They will serve as extension officers to the over 40,000 fishermen and women islandwide.
The IJAPP is a three-year project, being funded at a cost of just over C$5 million by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation in Agriculture (IICA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. In addition to the sustainable marine fisheries management component, the project will also focus on expanding green house production.

JIS Social