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Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that the fish sanctuaries, which were being established across the island, would overtime be developed into visitor attractions.
“The fish sanctuaries have worked in other countries and overtime . we are going to set up tours of the sanctuaries, where fishers can use their boats and be part of it,” he stated.
Dr. Tufton was speaking on Thursday (Feb. 19) at the opening of a gear shed at the Galleon/Long Acre fishing beach in St. Elizabeth, following a tour of the nearby Black River Bay fish sanctuary.
He urged the fisherfolk to protect the sanctuary, noting that “we have been over exploiting our natural resources and the sanctuary is intended to put an end to that.”
“If you go in the sanctuary and catch fish, you are defeating the purpose of the sanctuary, because you are taking out those fish that are there to expand the population. Every time you catch a fish that is about to multiply, you are destroying thousands of potential fish, and the impact to you is negative,” he stressed.
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 nine 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.
In addition to Black River Bay, the new sanctuaries will be established within the Portland Bight in St. Catherine and Clarendon; Bluefields Bay, Westmoreland; Orange Bay, Hanover; Montego Bay, St. James; Discovery Bay, St. Ann, and Oracabessa Bay, St. Mary. Persons caught fishing in the sanctuaries could face prosecution.
In the meantime, the Agriculture Minister stated that the gear shed, which was being managed by the Long Acre Fisher Group, was for the benefit of the entire community, and everyone must see to its management and protection.
The facility, which was constructed at a cost of some $2 million, comprises 14 metal lockers for the safe keeping of boat engines, fishing nets and other equipment. Some 100 fisherfolk are expected to benefit from the facility.
“Before we put the infrastructure in place, we engaged the local players to ensure that they were in agreement with putting an organisation together and having that organisation manage the facility in conjunction with the Fisheries Division. We are going to strengthen the group and give them institutional support, so that you can operate seriously and benefit to the fullest extent from the facilities that are available,” Dr. Tufton told the residents.