Eighty-three fishers operating at four fishing beaches in St. Catherine have received vouchers valued at $30,000 each to purchase gear and equipment.
The beaches are Hellshire, Hunts Bay, Port Henderson, and Old Harbour Bay.
The fishers are the first recipients under the coronavirus (COVID-19) incentive programme, which will benefit stakeholders in the sector who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, in his remarks at the handover ceremony on Wednesday (December 9) at the Old Harbour Bay Baptist Church in the parish, said that the allocation is aimed at returning the fisherfolk to their livelihood.
He said that the support is part of a broader programme under which 5,000 licensed fishers from across 137 communities, will be receiving $15,000 to purchase fishing gear.
He noted that the fisherfolk in St. Catherine were targeted for special support, as they were severely impacted by the lockdown of the parish earlier this year due to the public health crisis.
In addition to the incentive scheme, he said that the Ministry has allocated $24 million to procure cold storage containers that will be placed strategically across fishing beaches.
“A number of our fishers have said to us that especially with COVID, they are having a challenge because of a lack of storage facilities,” he noted.
Minister Green said that fisherfolk form an important part of the economic base of the country.
“This is the start. We all want to see a sustainable fisheries sector, where you are able to invest and are able to make returns on your investment. We want to see our fishermen and women being treated with more respect,” he pointed out.
Secretary of the Jamaica Fishermen’s Cooperative Union, Paulette Coley, in expressing gratitude said that the “assistance could not have come at a better time”.
“We are looking forward to your continued intervention,” she said.