Hundreds of fisherfolks in St. James will now benefit from a new fisheries station, which was constructed at River Bay Fishing Village.
Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke officially opened the Montego Bay Fisheries Station on Thursday (Feb. 19), which will provide a fully equipped facility catering for the fuel needs of 128 fishing vessels at the eight fishing locations in the parish.
The facility was established through a partnership between the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Petroleum Company of Jamaica, (PETCOM).
The new station was constructed by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and is equipped with a 27,000-litre tank, providing quality blended outboard motor fuel for high-efficiency performance, to some 500 registered fishermen. In addressing the official opening ceremony, Minister Clarke said that his Ministry was committed to making the fisheries sub-sector play “a monumental role in national development”, hence plans were underway to upgrade all 22 sub-stations islandwide.
“The upgraded capacity of this sub-station is part of the first phase of the three-year comprehensive development programme being executed in partnership with the Petroleum Company of Jamaica. This partnership, which was forged in August 2002, will not only see the upgrading of all the 22 sub-stations islandwide, but also the re-training and re-tooling of the front-line staff of the fisheries division,” Minister Clarke noted.
He stressed that with upgrading work now completed on three sub-stations, namely Port Morant, Black River and Montego Bay, the Ministry’s goal was to have at least 11 of the 22 sub-stations fully refurbished and efficiently running by year-end.
“It has been my commitment and indeed my passion to ensure that all our 20,000 fishers have access to adequate support services and amenities so that you can continue to play the very important role of feeding and building our nation. This comprehensive development programme for the fisheries fuel distribution system is but one of the necessary initiatives designed to achieve this objective,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Observing that fishermen were still using ancient fishing techniques, Mr. Clarke said that the time had come for more modern methods to be utilized in the industry, which was becoming more and more competitive.
“The Ministry is presently working out a programme with the Japanese in order to modernize the fisheries sector as best we can. We will not be able to give everybody a new outfit, but we will start somewhere this year,” he said.
Minister Clarke challenged all fisher folks from Montego Bay and surrounding areas to observe all the necessary safety regulations when using the new facility at River Bay.