JIS News

To promote good fishing techniques, the Fisheries Division in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands is constructing a fishing device, which will be used in its Fish Aggregation Project.
The device, also known as a fish attracting device, is an artificial floating shelter made of bamboo, which is anchored to the sea floor. The equipment attracts, traps and collects large quantities of fish.
Speaking with JIS News, Senior Fisheries Officer, Ian Jones, explained that the aim of the project is to encourage small fishers to concentrate on catching large fish found in pelagic or mid-waters, and therefore shift focus away from coral reefs, which is over fished.
“We want less people using traps and more people venturing into the offshore, open sea areas,” he stressed.
Mr. Jones informed that the system would target tuna and other pelagic fish, such as wahoo, marlin, snapper and grouper, rather than reef fish. The mechanism will also provide food, shelter and protection of fingerlings from predators.
He noted that an experiment to test the feasibility of the apparatus is slated to be conducted with fisher folk in the community of Whitehorses in St. Thomas, but that the agency “is currently waiting on the permit to be passed by the National Environment and Planning Agency, to actually go ahead and launch at sea”.
Commenting on the importance of the project to the island, Mr. Jones said the country needed to look at alternatives and diversify the fishing sector, so that “we can reduce the stress on coral reefs, which is further exacerbated by hurricanes, algae and sewage”.
The division has already received international assistance from the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA), which has donated gears to the organization.
When the project becomes fully operational, the division is predicting an increase in fish quality over a three-year period, as well as the use of more effective devices that are positioned farther out in the ocean.