Feature
Senior Fisheries Officer at the National Fisheries Authority, Ian Jones.

Story Highlights

  • Stakeholders in the Jamaican fisheries sector can expect significant improvements in the services they receive from the National Fisheries Authority (NFA), when the new web-based Fisheries Licensing and Registration System is implemented.
  • “The main outcome will be much quicker, which the fisher folk will appreciate. What exists right now is largely a paper-based system for licensing and registration of fishers and fishing vessels. It is basically taking an interview in the office or at some sub-offices with a nationally recognised identification card for fishers and the vessels they are licensed and registered to operate,” he tells JIS News.

Stakeholders in the Jamaican fisheries sector can expect significant improvements in the services they receive from the National Fisheries Authority (NFA), when the new web-based Fisheries Licensing and Registration System is implemented.

Speaking with JIS News, Senior Fisheries Officer at the NFA, Ian Jones says that the system will reduce the processing time for applications.

He states that the Authority is now focused on developing the requirements of the system and engaging stakeholders.

“The main outcome will be much quicker, which the fisherfolk will appreciate. What exists right now is largely a paper-based system for licensing and registration of fishers and fishing vessels. It is basically taking an interview in the office or at some sub-offices with a nationally recognised identification card for fishers and the vessels they are licensed and registered to operate,” he tells JIS News.

The new system will be a web-based application bringing together information on the stakeholders of the Jamaican fisheries sector including commercial and recreational fishers and fish farmers; fish processors; vendors; importers and exporters of fishery products; vessel owners; equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

According to Mr. Jones, the implementation of the system could lead to enhanced interest in the industry.

“It can now facilitate the average person who wants to get involved in the fishing industry. So persons should be able to stay home and answer the questions, [as] the basic application process will be electronic, which means information can be uploaded immediately no matter where you complete the application,” he says.

“So instead of an application being couriered to Kingston for approval, with an electronic system, what we are expecting is that the upload will come instantly after someone is interviewed,” he adds.

He notes that the information in the system will be protected, as there will be various levels of security access to check and approve the applications.

Mr. Jones estimates that the turnaround time will now be four to five business days compared to the current waiting time of four weeks.

The five-year project is being implemented at a cost of US$1,200,000 and is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, under the Public Sector Transformation Programme in the Transformation Implementation Unit.

Fisherman, Henley Nichols is excited about the system, stating that it will save time.

“Sometimes the process to get the permit can take up to a month, so I am happy to know that we will be able to get these approvals in a much shorter period because we spend a lot of time on the sea, so this is an important move that will serve us well,” he states.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jones says that persons with a recreational interest in fishing will also benefit from the system.

“We have people in the recreational industry such as tourists that want a temporary licence to fish. With the new system, tourists won’t have to come all the way into Kingston,” he explains.

“With a new system, the hotels will have a facility which supports this web-based programme, so you can basically generate a licence by paying electronically for a temporary licence, or [you can use] other outlets where persons can engage self-help kiosks,” Mr. Jones tells JIS News.

Other agencies that will utilise the information provided by the system include the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), and the National Environment and Protection Agency (NEPA).

“The system will be a dedicated electronic-based system where we can actually have the data shared between the head office and our sub-offices around the island, as well as the coast guard and marine police. One of the best things we are looking forward to is that we will have that information to share with the coast guard, who will be able to access the database [for] relevant information at any time,” he adds.

Mr. Jones notes that there will be training for the NFA’s staff on the new web-based system. There will also be an upgrade of the building infrastructure at the Aquaculture Branch, as well as the Black River and Montego Bay offices/outstations and Regional Offices.

The new licensing and registration system is among the new initiatives arriving from the passage of the Fisheries Act 2018, which replaced the Fisheries Act of 1976. The transformation of the Fisheries Division into the NFA is another major change that occurred following the promulgation of the Act in 2019.

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