$50 Million Retooling Loan for Fishermen


Come month end, fishermen should begin accessing the $50 million retooling loan facility announced by Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate on April 16.
The loan scheme, funded by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), is being made available at an interest rate of 7.8 per cent. It targets fishermen with small to medium sized operations and is primarily for the refurbishing of gear and acquiring safety equipment.
Chairman of the Jamaica Fishermen’s Co-operative, Havelan Honeyghan told JIS News that Credit Unions, People’s Co-operative Banks and approved micro enterprise agencies should begin disbursing loans by the end of June.
Under the scheme, registered fishermen whose licences are up-to-date should have access to loans of up to $300,000. He noted that the funds are badly needed as the sector has been heavily battered by hurricanes in recent years.
More than 17,000 fishermen have been registered since the Fisheries Division began its revised registration programme in 1996. Only about 9,000 fishers possess up-to-date licences, despite on-going registration and licensing programmes.
Mr. Honeyghan, who heads the 7,000 strong Co-operative urged those engaged in fishing to register and be licensed, so they do not miss out the benefits negotiated for the sector. In 2002 the group negotiated for and won a reprieve from General Consumption Tax (GCT) on fishing gear.
The Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture licenses and registers fishermen free of cost throughout the year at its 18 locations across the island. Registration is a one time process; however licences are renewed on an annual basis. Identification cards cost $350. Fishing boats must also be registered and marked.

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