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Revisions to the Fisheries Act, currently being pursued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to facilitate development of the sector, are at an advanced stage, Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Dr. Marc Panton, has disclosed.
Speaking at the closing ceremony for Improving Jamaica’s Agricultural Productivity Project’s (IJAPP) fisheries extension training course at the Fisheries Division, Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston, on Wednesday (April 21), Dr. Panton said that the legislation was in the final draft stages with the Chief Parliamentary Counsel.
“Hopefully, that will go through the necessary rounds, so that it will eventually get enacted into law,” he said.
Some of the areas of focus Dr. Panton disclosed include increasing the size of the mesh used to make fish pots from 1.25 inches to 1.5 inches, to ensure against catching underdeveloped fish.

Chief Technical Director, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton (left), jokes with Director of Fisheries, Andre Kong, during the closing exercise for a 5-week fisheries extension training course, staged under the Improving Jamaica’s Agricultural Productivity Project (IJAPP), at the Fisheries Division, Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston, on Wednesday (April 21). Dr. Panton was the guest speaker.

“As a matter of fact, we have had dialogue with the importers of the mesh, and we are putting in place systems now, such that fisherfolk will really use the inch and a half rather than the inch and a quarter mesh,” he explained.
Another area of focus, Dr. Panton said, was the method of spear fishing currently used by some fisherfolk, in which a wooden or fiberglass shaft is used to project the spear to catch fish. He said consequent on consultations with a number of fishers, plans are afoot to explore the feasibility of introducing the Hawaiian sling, which operates similar to a bow and arrow using a rubber tubing in place of the wooden or fiberglass shaft.
He, however, pointed out that stakeholders have been making proposals for alternatives, which they believe can be explored.
“I think they have some very excellent plans which we are looking at right now. As such, we are taking their suggestions, under advise, and coming up with counter proposals to them,” Dr. Panton said. He added that other areas, such as night diving and air compressor diving, were also being looked at within the context of enhancing the sustainability of the sector.
The 5-week fisheries extension training course formed part of the capacity building activities being implemented under IJAPP’s sustainable marine fisheries management component. Over 30 individuals sector stakeholders, across the island, inclusive of instructors and officers, participated in the course. They will serve as extension officers to over 40,000 fisherfolk, islandwide.
IJAPP is being jointly funded at a cost of just over C$5 million by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. In addition to the sustainable marine fisheries management component, the project will also focus on expanding green house production.