Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that it is imperative that stakeholders in the fishing industry understand the rationale for the institution of laws to curb illicit practices in the sector.
Dr. Tufton said that the move was in the interest of the preservation of the sector and legitimate stakeholders’ livelihood, as well as wider marine life.
“We are going to have to identify the one or two bad eggs in the lot, and we are going to, first of all, try to convince them to conform, to do the right thing. We’re not here to run down anybody and lock up anybody but, if they don’t conform, we’re going to have to enforce the law,” the Minister said.
Speaking at Wednesday’s (February 10) groundbreaking ceremony for the Old Harbour Bay Fishing Beach Rehabilitation Project, St. Catherine, Dr. Tufton noted that while a significant number of the island’s fisherfolk employed legitimate fishing practices, others were resorting to illicit practices.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon Christopher Tufton (centre), greeting Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Stephen Hallihan (right), at Wednesday’s (February 10) groundbreaking ceremony for the Old Harbour Bay Fishing Beach Rehabilitation Project, St. Catherine. Looking on is Country Representative for the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Cynthia Currie.
He said that while some fisherfolk) go to sea with nets and others go out with hooks and line and “try a thing”, which the law allows, some go out with dynamite which kills fishes of various sizes, and the reef that they breed on.
“Some go out with bleach, toxic chemicals, throw it in the water, (and) stun the fish. (These) toxic substances eventually hurt you and other people,.and (will eventually) kill everything,” he lamented.
Noting that the ability to be able to identify and retrieve fish from the sea was fundamental to the sector’s preservation, Dr. Tufton assured that in ensuing months, additional information will be forthcoming regarding measures to be employed to curb the illicit practices.
He said that, ultimately, the aim of the Ministry and its stakeholder partners is to work with the fisherfolk to ensure that they practice a type of fishing that will sustain the availability of fish in Jamaica for a very long time.
Dr. Tufton also stressed the need for fisherfolk to get themselves and their vessels registered with the Fisheries Division, to enable the Ministry to plan, over the longer term, for the sector’s sustainability.
The Old Harbour Bay Fishing Beach is one of six facilities being rehabilitated, as part of a three-year project under the tripartite Improving Jamaica’s Agricultural Productivity (IJAP) programme. The others are located at Calabash Bay and Black River, St. Elizabeth; Rocky Point, Clarendon; and Negril and Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland.
IJAP is a joint undertaking involving the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and the Ministry. It comprises two components, focusing on expanding green house production and encouraging sustainable management of the marine fisheries sector.
The initiative is being funded through a C$4.9 million grant from CIDA; C$134.956 from the IICA; and $1.5 million from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
The projects fall under the programme’s sustainable management of the marine fisheries sector component, and will be undertaken at a cost of some $19 million. They are executed by IICA Jamaica.