JIS News

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, yesterday (September 5) launched the first of three public consultations with fishers and other stakeholders on the draft Fisheries Policy, at Jakes Resort in St. Elizabeth.
Outlining the aims of the consultations, Minister Tufton said the industry will have to be managed and regulated so that there will be long term benefit to all who depend on it.
“It is a process that is firmly focused on the sustainability of the fisheries resources of the country; it is a process that recognises that, on the present course; if we continue interims of how we manage the resources of the sea in our area of responsibility, we are going to end up where we have nothing to reap. So we have to put certain things in place in order to have sustainability,” he said.
Dr. Tufton told the audience that the Policy document was developed with input from fishers at earlier consultations, and assistance from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Minister explained that after the present consultations are concluded, he will seek to have it debated and passed by Parliament, and thereby help to preserve the country’s natural resources.
“Some of the measures might be strident, but we have to practice fishing in a way that ensures that what we are taking out, there is sufficient fish left there to replenish and expand. So that we are not taking out more than the rate at which the expansion is taking place. The restrictions will provide opportunities and ensure that when you leave fishing your children and grandchildren can find careers in fishing, and can survive off it,” the Minister stated.
Meanwhile, he noted that the Government has set up a $50 million revolving fund for fishers, “So that when they go to sea they can improve their chances of not only catch, but of protecting themselves. The resources are with the PC Banks and the credit union movement, and fishers can access it there. Also some 30 fishing beaches across the country are being refurbished- over $100 million is being spent on that. A policy paper is before Cabinet where we are seeking to approve eight fishing sanctuaries. This is intended to provide a breeding ground for the fish stock so that we can have replenishment taking place and make the sustainable programme work,” the Minister informed.
The next series of consultations will be in Montego Bay on September 25; Port Maria on October 1; and on October 15 in Kingston. The public are invited to attend and participate in the discussions.