Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has assured the Greenwich Town fishing community in Kingston that steps are being taken to assist them in restoring their livelihood.
A little over a month ago (September 11) close to 300 tonnes of Sulphuric Acid were accidentally released into the sea in the vicinity of Berth One, Port Bustamante, which affected fishing activities in the area and turned off customers from the fishing beach.
Dr. Tufton told fishermen at the beach, following a tour of the facilities, that the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), the Department of Fisheries and other agencies were collaborating to bring a speedy resolution to their distress.
As a consequence, officers from the Department of Fisheries have collected names of persons reporting damage, assessed the losses and applied value to them.
‘Come, come show me .’ seems to be what Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Dr. Christopher Tufton (R) seems to be saying to a group of fishermen at the Greenwich Town fishing village. Dr. Tufton toured the facility recently (Oct. 13) where close to 300 tonnes of Sulphuric Acid was accidentally released into the sea in the vicinity of Berth One, Port Bustamante affecting the livelihood of the fisher folk
He asked for their patience, as the Government seeks redress on their behalf. This is being done by first seeking dialogue with the entity held responsible for the acid spill, to try and get them to address the losses that were incurred.
“The intention is to facilitate a meeting to provide the information of the damage suffered and to seek redress. We hope that that meeting will bring about redress. There is the option of taking the matter to court. We are not averse to that, but we will work with a legal counsel in pursuing the matter,” he said.
Dr. Tufton promised the fisherfolk that he would be working closely with their Member of Parliament and Leader of the Opposition, the Most Hon Portia Simpson Miller, and other political and social representatives to ensure that they are kept abreast of any development.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Fisheries Division, Lt. Commander Richard Russell, told JIS News that losses suffered ranged from net and gear damage, to boats being stripped of protective paint and coatings and damage to outboard engines as well as loss of sea catch.
He stressed that the reports of damage to equipment would be cross-referenced to data already stored by the division on equipment owned, to guard against inflated claims.
The fisherfolk said though they were put out by their inability to go to sea, or use nets, they were happy for the action being taken by the Minister and hoped that a resolution would be arrived at, quickly.
NEPA says that fish caught and sold by the fishermen at the Greenwich Town Fishing Beach are safe to be consumed.