JIS News

The eight fish sanctuaries, which are being established by the Government to protect and develop the country’s fishing industry, should be in place by March 2010, said Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton.
He said the law governing the establishment of the sanctuaries is to be gazetted and recorded and “once that is done (we) will be working on putting in the boundaries to show where exactly the sanctuaries are.”
“I am hoping that by the end of the year, we will have at least the boundaries to show where the sanctuaries are. Certainly, everything should be up and running by the end of next March,” Dr. Tufton said.
He was speaking to fisherfolk at the Gallon Fishing Beach in Crawford, St. Elizabeth last week about the new measures being put in place to ensure the sustainability of the fishing industry.
The Government will collaborate with non governmental organisations (NGOs) and community groups in the management of the sanctuaries, which will be established across the island.
“The NGOs (will) monitor and police the sanctuaries because you are going to have a legal monitoring mechanism, so that if people are caught in the sanctuary fishing they can actually be arrested,” Dr. Tufton told the fishers.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Fisheries Division within the Ministry, Commander Richard Russell, informed that the sanctuaries have already been marked and NGOs have volunteered to police the areas.
Commander Russell said that a sum of $3 million has been budgeted for the NGOs “so that they can pay the monitors and do whatever they have to do”.
In addition to the establishment of the fish sanctuaries, fishers will be required to use one and a half inch mesh wires for fishing pots; replace the mechanical fishing gun with the Hawaiian sling; cease spear fishing at nights; and the fisherman’s licence will be revamped.
As it relates to the latter provision, Commander Russell told the fishermen that the new licence, which will come on stream soon, will be similar to the Jamaican driver’s licence and will include the fisherman’s Tax Registration Number (TRN).
It will document the size and species of fish that the fisherman is allowed to catch, a provision which will be stipulated in the new legislation governing fishing in Jamaica.
Fish sanctuaries are areas set aside for fish to spawn, rear young or rest. No fishing of any kind is permitted in the sanctuary.
Cabinet, in 2008, approved the establishment of eight such sanctuaries in seven critical areas across the island, to complement the existing two sanctuaries at Bogue Island Lagoon in Montego Bay, St. James, and Bowden Inner Harbour in St. Thomas.
The new sites will be established in Portland Bight, between St. Catherine and Clarendon; Black River Bay, St. Elizabeth; Bluefields Bay, Westmoreland; Orange Bay, Hanover; Montego Bay, St. James; Discovery Bay, St Ann; Oracabessa Bay, St. Mary and will benefit some 3,000 fishers. Persons caught fishing in the sanctuaries could face prosecution.
Meanwhile, Senior Public Education and Community Outreach Officer, with NEPA, Ava Tomlinson told the fishermen that under the Wildlife Protection Act, persons can be charged up to $100,000 or 12 months imprisonment for violation of this Act.
She implored the fishermen to protect the turtle population in the area, report oil spills, protect the mangrove on the beach, and contact the NEPA officers on any environmental concern in their area.
“We want community members to share with us anything regarding the environment. We are the first person you call,” she said.

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