- The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is looking into the use of drones to man the country’s fisheries resources.
- Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS) either controlled by pilots from the ground or increasingly, autonomously, following a pre-programmed mission.
- The local fisheries industry has been losing tens of millions in foreign exchange annually due to poaching.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is looking into the use of drones to man the country’s fisheries resources, to combat illegal fishing by foreign poachers.
“We are now in the process of looking at drones to deal with policing our fish resources, because we are losing millions of dollars each year to foreign poachers when those catches should be here to feed our people, to export, and to make money,” said portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke.
He was addressing the launch of the Rainforest Seafoods Festival on Tuesday, February 11, at the company’s Slipe Road offices in Kingston.
Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS) either controlled by pilots from the ground or increasingly, autonomously, following a pre-programmed mission. Low cost UAVs can be specially designed that are equipped with sensors able to detect and locate poachers.
There are countries that are using drones for activities such as countering the poaching of endangered species, and the Pacific nation of Palau has tested the use of the unmanned craft to patrol its vast ocean waters.
The local fisheries industry has been losing tens of millions in foreign exchange annually due to poaching. Conservative estimates put the annual fish loss at US$10 million with a further US$9 million in lobster earnings lost to foreign poachers in Jamaican waters.
Minister Clarke, while addressing a workshop on mechanisms to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing by foreign poachers, said that the illicit practice could not be allowed to continue as it was an assault on Jamaica’s sovereignty with far-reaching negative consequences for the livelihood of Jamaicans and the economy of the country.
At the function, he gave the Government’s commitment to putting measures in place to conserve and boost the fisheries industry, which provides a livelihood for thousands of Jamaicans.
He noted that already, there has been the designation and proper management of fish sanctuaries, which has resulted in an increase in fish stock and fish sizes.
He said that focus is being placed on increasing aquaculture production to meet local consumption and export demand, and create employment. In this regard, two Agro Parks – Hill Run in St. Catherine, and Meylersfield in Westmoreland – will focus on the rehabilitation of abandoned fish ponds.
As typical of the agro-park model, Government’s role is to provide the infrastructure and work with partners and investors along the value chain.
Minister Clarke welcomed the interest that Rainforest has expressed in facilitating the marketing of local Tilapia, noting that the farmers are “delighted” in the move.
The Rainforest Seafoods Festival will be held at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre in St. James on Ash Wednesday, March 5, with all proceeds going to the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St. James.
Minister Clarke is expected to attend the fundraising event, which will feature entertainment for the entire family.