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State Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Ian Hayles, says the Ministry is committed to taking the measures necessary to strengthen the sustainability of the country’s coastal resources.

Speaking at the official opening of the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation's (C-CAMF) field office and station in Salt River, Clarendon on Thursday (April 19), Mr. Hayles noted that the coastal resources of countries globally, including Jamaica, were under increased pressure from population growth and development.

He noted that the growth in population puts a strain on beaches, marine plants and animals, water resources, and other natural resources. “Jamaica is reported to be one of the most heavily fished countries in the world… (and) the Ministry regards our fish resources as critical, in an effort to preserve the decline in fish stock,” the State Minister said.

Mr. Hayles informed that some measures taken, some of which he said, were unpopular, including reducing the size of the mesh used for fishing and banning spear and night fishing.

Nine fish sanctuaries were also established island wide, inclusive of three in the Portland Bight area of Clarendon, at Galleon Harbour, Three Bays and Salt Harbour.

Mr. Hayles advised that plans are in place to establish another sanctuary at East Polink Point in St. Catherine, while a new Fisheries Bill is to be tabled in Parliament shortly. 

In welcoming the opening of C-CAMF’s new field office and station, Mr. Hayles commended the organisation’s work as environmental watchdogs, particularly in promoting coastal conservation, and development of the Portland Bight Protected Area, and urged that they continue to be “vanguards of our coastal zones”.

C-CAMF’s field office was developed at a cost of over US$36,000, with inputs from United States-based non-profit environmental organization, Seacology; the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ); and the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. 

In noting the government’s contribution to the facility’s establishment, Mr. Hayles said the state is committed to providing funding for rangers, annually, to ensure that the sanctuaries remain unbreached. 

Thursday’s function also saw the signing of a contract between C-CAMF and West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO), which sees the latter providing some $9.5 million towards a fishery enhancement project for the three sanctuaries in the Portland Bight Area. This partnership was also welcomed by Mr. Hayles.

“We welcome the further enhancement of the sanctuaries. This will provide a habitat for fish to breed and reproduce in a safe environment. Let us protect Jamaica in going forward,” he urged.

A plaque, in honour of late longstanding former Chairman of the C-CAMF Board of Directors, Professor Aggrey Brown, was also unveiled.

 

By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter