JIS News

Plans have been far advanced by the Ministry of Agriculture, for the establishment of some eight fishing sanctuaries across Jamaica, in an effort to ensure the sustainability and viability of the industry.
Speaking at the third in a series of public consultations on the Draft National Fisheries Policy in Montego Bay St. James yesterday, September 25, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, said that these sanctuaries were intended to provide breeding grounds for the fish stock to ensure sustainable replenishment of fish.
“When we speak about establishing and declaring fish sanctuaries, which is in the proposals this year, ten in total, eight additional to the two that we currently have, and engaging Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to monitor these sanctuaries, it is intended to achieve one primary objective, giving the fish an opportunity to multiply and expand its stocks in designated areas. These areas will be monitored carefully and what the law is going to say is that if you are caught catching fish in those areas, you are going to be subject to prosecution,” Dr. Tufton told fishers.
The Minister of Agriculture pointed out that the project is geared towards ensuring, that the resources of the sea in the country’s territorial waters can be tapped into and reaped, in order to benefit the country in a sustainable way.
“As fishers here today, you can survive off the resources of the sea, you can go out and get sufficient catch to trade and to enhance your wellbeing. But future generations, your sons and daughters and others can similarly survive off those resources,” he stated.
“It cannot be that we do the same things that we have been doing over the last twenty years. We must do some serious adjustments by conducting ourselves as fishers in a way that allows the fish in the sea to multiply itself, to breed more fish than the amount we take out, by so doing we will always have more to take out,” Dr. Tufton argued.
He also called on fishers across western Jamaica to be responsible and to adhere to the guidelines, rules and restrictions so that there will be bigger and better quality catch in the sea.
“We have looked at countries where these restrictions are in place such as Belize and other countries where fish sanctuaries are in existence with restrictions in terms of the size of the mesh and the spear gun … were those restrictions in place here within two to three years the fish stock comes back and once we follow the rules, we are going to see bigger and better quality catch where you will make more money for yourself and your family and the fisherman will feel important again,” Minister Tufton predicted.
He urged all fishers to unite and organise themselves into groups so that more can be achieved for the industry. Dr. Tufton further encouraged them to participate in discussions during the consultations so that there can be “a common vision, a common mission, and a common way forward” for the industry.

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