Government’s commitment to provide the fishing industry with the necessary support to ensure its sustainability has been underscored by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton.
Addressing a re-opening ceremony for the recently upgraded Rio Nuevo Fishing Beach, in St. Mary, on December 10, Dr. Tufton said this commitment has been made out of recognition of the critically important role being played by the fishing industry in creating a livelihood for fishermen throughout the country, and the unlimited potential it possesses to significantly contribute to the development of the national economy.
The beach was upgraded at a cost of approximately $11 million, and includes a vending area and bathroom facilities.
Dr. Tufton said his Ministry will be making every effort to put in place the physical infrastructure needed for the successful and profitable operation of the fishing industry, adding that in the past, not enough attention was directed at ensuring that the industry was properly protected and equipped to enable it to operate at maximum efficiency.
He pointed out that the upgrading of fishing beaches is one of the initiatives being implemented to develop the fishing industry, adding that upgrading of the Rio Nuevo fishing beach was just a continuation of a recently introduced programme by the Ministry to provide infrastructural development and support for fishing beaches throughout the country.
Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (right), and Member of Parliament for Western
St. Mary, Hon. Robert Montague, participating in the symbolic cutting of the ribbon to officially re-open the Rio Nuevo Fishing Beach, in St. Mary, on December 10.
The Minister said that 35 fishing beaches had been identified for immediate upgrading under the programme, with 20 being completed so far. He said the initiative will continue until the required improvements are carried out at all the fishing beaches.
Dr. Tufton pointed out that legislation would be introduced during next year to regulate and better protect the fishing industry, including restrictions on spear fishing and imposing limits on the size of the mesh used to make fish nets.
The Minister said the legislation would also ensure that fishermen are equipped with the necessary safety gadgets before venturing out to sea, and that they are registered along with their vessels.
He added that a number of communication towers will also be installed by the Fisheries Division at strategic points throughout the country, to facilitate communication with fishermen at sea, particularly at times when they are confronted with danger.
Pointing out that a total of eight such towers will be erected, he said the Government will also be making a special effort to provide fishermen with life vests to further enhance their protection at sea.
He encouraged the fishermen at the Rio Nuevo fishing beach to protect the facility, and implored them not to become involved in illegal activities carried out under the guise of fishing, as such actions will only result in irreparable damage to their reputation and the overall image of the country.