MONTEGO BAY — Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, says the review of the 1975 Fishing Industry Act, now underway, will provide increased fines and penalties for breaches, which would serve as a deterrent to poachers.
He was addressing the 33rd Annual General Meeting of the Gillings Gully Fishermen’s Co-operative, which was held on June 9 at the Culloden Vocational Training Centre in Whitehouse, Westmoreland.
Dr. Tufton noted that within the region, Jamaica’s fisheries laws are the least stringent and least enforced, which made local waters “open season” for poachers. He said that the fines imposed by the regional neighbours are several times higher than those allowed under the existing legislation.
“Two Jamaican vessels were seized in Nicaragua recently and they were paying an average of US$35,000 to retrieve those vessels. Those same vessels, if they were Honduran’s or Nicaraguan’s vessels seized in Jamaican waters, they would pay just US$2.30 per vessel,” the Minister lamented.
“So, we have to align the fines…our waters are left open to poaching and illegal activities because there are no deterrents,” he stated.
Urging the fisherfolk to buy into the process, Dr. Tufton said the changes will protect their livelihood and ensure sustainability of the industry.
“I am therefore asking you as fisherfolks to understand the measures put in place and also why we need to do what we have to do as this is really in your best interest,” he said.
In the discussions, which followed, the fisher folks cited the need for state-of-the-art communication systems for the safety of its members, especially when operating on the high seas.
By GLENIS ROSE, JIS Reporter