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The draft National Fisheries Policy, developed by the Ministry of Agriculture, was extensively discussed at a public consultation held at the Casa Maria Hotel in Port Maria St. Mary on Wednesday, October 1.
The consultation was attended by a large gathering of fishers from the parishes of Portland, St. Mary, and St. Ann, who made suggestions and recommendations in respect of the strategies they consider necessary for implementation, if the improvements contemplated for the fishing industry are to be realised.
Addressing the meeting, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Donovan Stanberry, said the aim and objective of the new policy and legislation, was the development of a sustainable fisheries industry in the country.
He noted that this means that the activities of the industry will have to be regulated, to ensure that it is protected and not abused, which would prevent future generations from having the opportunity to know the different types of fish with which the current generations of the country are familiar.
Noting that under the policy, eight areas have been designated fish sanctuaries, Mr. Stanberry said those will be provided with special protection to ensure that there is a discontinuation of the depletion of the fish resources currently occurring in their vicinity.
Stating that the policy also contemplates the transformation of the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture into an Executive Agency, Mr. Stanberry said a loan programme of $50 million, will be put in place to provide financial support for fishermen in need of assistance, to procure the necessary resources for fishing.
In thanking the European Union (EU), the Canadian Agency for International Development and the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (CIDA) for their efforts to put the loan programme in place, he said the programme of rehabilitating fishing beaches will also be implemented under the policy, to ensure that the best standards of the fishing industry are observed in those areas.
He asserted that there was a commitment to implement the programme on 30 beaches during the course of this financial year, adding that on completion, the facilities of these beaches will be in the best possible condition.