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  • A total of 250 fisherfolk are now certified in basic safety at sea as the Government continues to implement measures to ensure the sustainability of the fisheries industry.
  • The fishers, from fishing beaches across the island, benefited from a training programme undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, under its $18.2 million Enhancement of the Cold Chain Supply and Safety Project.
  • The three-day customised course was delivered by the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI), and covered topics such as basic seamanship and navigation skills.

A total of 250 fisherfolk are now certified in basic safety at sea as the Government continues to implement measures to ensure the sustainability of the fisheries industry.

The fishers, from fishing beaches across the island, benefited from a training programme undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, under its $18.2 million Enhancement of the Cold Chain Supply and Safety Project.

The three-day customised course was delivered by the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI), and covered topics such as basic seamanship and navigation skills; and the safe and proper use of life jackets and other safety equipment. The training involved a combination of practical and theory-teaching methods.

Several of the fishers received their certificates on Wednesday, November 19, at a ceremony held at the CMI’s Palisadoes Park headquarters in Kingston.

State Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Luther Buchanan, in his remarks at the function, informed that the Cold Chain Supply and Safety Project was in response to the challenges being faced in the fishing industry, particularly in relation to safety at sea.

He noted that under the initiative, 2,000 fishers have been supplied with marine flares and life jackets, while 400 fish vendors have received training in food safety, sanitation and portable cold storage.

Mr. Buchanan said the Government is committed to ensuring the sustainability of the sector, which contributes 0.4 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounts for eight per cent of all agricultural exports.

“It employs some 20,000 Jamaicans and provides them and their families with a source of livelihood and independence,” he stated.

He noted, however, that there is room for improvement, and the Government is working to modernise and expand the sector.

Director, School of Advanced Skills, CMI, Osric Forrest, informed that the training course began seven months ago, with the goal to train over 300 persons in eight parishes and 11 fishing beaches.  The programme ended with 250 graduates from across eight fishing beaches.

He informed that the training looked specifically at elementary first aid, knowledge of sea and weather, types of emergency situations, understanding emergency signals, first aid emergency drills, principles concerning survival at sea, and man overboard actions.

“Among the persons trained, we have selected top persons, who will also be trained as mentors. There are persons, who will go on to be boat handlers,” he explained, while imploring the graduates to share the knowledge gained with their fellow fisherfolk.

Expressing gratitude on behalf of the participants, Junior McDonald from the Old Harbour Bay fishing community in St. Catherine, said he welcomed the intervention, which has helped to sharpen his seafaring skills.

“Our knowledge of the sea is mainly learnt from a traditional standpoint where we learn from the older fisherfolk but, in order to conform to formal principles, we have been taught by the CMI and for that we are truly grateful,” he noted.

Castel Smith from the Manchioneal fishing beach in Portland said the training has taught him the vital importance of having a life jacket while at sea.

He said that before the training, he was not very concerned about safety at sea, noting that once he “had food, gas and the boat wasn’t leaking, I was satisfied.”

“If it wasn’t for this training, I wouldn’t know a lot (about safety at sea) and I’ve been fishing for about 30 years,” he noted.

The Enhancement of the Cold Chain Supply and Safety Project is being implemented by the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), with funds from the World Bank.

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