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As part of measures to protect the country’s fish stock, the Government has announced a ban on the use of mechanical guns for fishing, effective March 31, 2010.
“We are not banning spear fishing, what we are saying is that we are going to embark on a programme to replace, at the cost of the Government, the mechanical spear guns which have had a devastating impact on our reef fish, with what the fishers call the Hawaiian Sling,” Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, said during his contribution to the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate, in the House of Representatives on July 7.
He further informed that the Government will also ban the use of mesh sizes for fish pots below 1.5 inches, effective July 7, 2010.
“We want to give them enough time; we want to go through a public education programme; we want to give the trade enough time to use up what they have. But 12 months from today, we are expecting that no fisher should go to sea with mesh sizes less than 1.5 inches,” Dr. Tufton said.
Other measures to be put in place to protect the fishing industry include the ban on night diving for spear fishing, which will become effective March 31, 2010, and strengthening the Ministry’s enforcement efforts to ensure that all vessels and fishers are registered and licensed by March 31, 2010. Also effective March 31, 2010, a special permit will be required for compressors and other mechanical devices used for underwater breathing purposes for fishing.
Dr. Tufton stressed that there would be “zero tolerance in respect of fishers caught using dynamite, bleach or any other toxic substances, as well as those who fail to display their registration numbers on their boats or comply with the licensing regulations when they come into force.”
Meanwhile, the Government will be spending $30 million on a fishers’ registration programme, and over the next two years, the administration will be spending $14 million to set up 13 repeater stations to improve the communication systems for fishermen at sea. This will include coverage for the Morant and Pedro Cays, two major fishing areas where fishermen have encountered difficulties.