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Six of Jamaica’s major fishing beaches are to be rehabilitated, over the next three years, at a cost of $19 million, under the tripartite Improving Jamaica’s Agricultural Productivity (IJAP) programme.
IJAP involves the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It comprises two components, focussing on expanding green house production and encouraging sustainable management of the marine fisheries sector.
The initiative is being funded through a C$4.9 million grant from CIDA; C$134,956 from the IICA; and J$1.5 million from the Ministry.
The six fishing beaches earmarked for rehabilitation are at Old Harbour Bay, St. Catherine; Calabash Bay and Black River, St. Elizabeth; Rocky Point, Clarendon; and Negril and Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland. They are being rehabilitated under IJAP’s Sustainable Marine Fisheries Management component.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton; Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Stephen Hallihan; and Member of Parliament for South West St. Catherine and State Minister for Water and Housing, Hon. Everald Warmington, on Wednesday (February 10), broke ground for the commencement of the Old Harbour Bay project.
Dr. Tufton pointed out that it was part of the Government’s overall strategy to rehabilitate some 187 beaches, from which approximately 40,000 fisherfolk and other stakeholders operate and earn their livelihood, directly and indirectly.
Mr. Hallihan, pointed out that Canada’s input in the project was “natural”, given that both countries are bounded by the ocean.
“We came to Old Harbour first, because of the spirit and tenacity that we found in this community and because of the obvious commitment that members of the community have shown and demonstrated to future development,” the High Commissioner stated.
Country Representative for IICA in Jamaica, Cynthia Currie, explained that the overall scope of the undertaking will entail new construction, or upgrading, to provide adequate vending facilities, secure gear sheds, designated net mending areas, sanitary facilities and environmentally responsible waste disposal systems.
The project will also deploy 1,500 artificial lobster shelters, to resuscitate lobster breeding and spur reef regeneration.
Mr. Warmington, in thanking the major stakeholders for their input, urged the residents and fisherfolk to preserve the condition of the fishing beach after its rehabilitation.
“You have to co-operate and assist in making sure that it works. When you get this facility, you have to take care of it, it is your facility. You have to keep the place clean,” Mr. Warmington implored.
His sentiments were echoed by President of the Old Harbour Bay Fisherfolk Council, Kevin Baker.
The Old Harbour Bay Fishing Beach Rehabilitation Project is scheduled for completion within six months.

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