The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will, later this year, launch a major programme to register fishermen across the island, so as to better enable the Ministry to plan for the fisheries sector.
“Not only will we need to register the individuals, we (also) need to register the vessels,” said Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, at the re-opening of the refurbished Rae Town Fishing Beach in Kingston on Thursday (June 4).
“We are going to make it easy for you to register. We are going to visit you on the fishing beaches, we are going to come with the cameras, and work with agencies like the Electoral Office of Jamaica if we have to,” he told the gathering, noting that the registration programme would provide for the creation of a database of fisherfolk.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (centre), along with Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Ronald Thwaites (right) and Councillor for the Rae Town Division, Rosalie Hamilton (left), touring the refurbished Rae Town Fishing Beach in Kingston, which was re-opened on June 4.
He assured them that the information will not be used to impose taxes on the sector. “I know there are some suspicions around recording information. We are not going to give the information to any agency that may compromise your privacy. It is all about trying to determine how many people we have that depend on the resources of the sea to survive and so we can now determine what needs to be done… to be put in place to ensure your comfort,” he explained.
Turning to other developments in the sector, Dr. Tufton informed that the Ministry was in the process of revising the 1976 Fisheries Act, and upon completion, a copy of the Act would be sent to Cabinet for approval. It will then be tabled in the House of Representatives.
“I am confident that during the course of this calendar year we will be debating in the Parliament this new framework to guide the sustainable development of the sector,” he stated.
In addition, the Fisheries Division will be launching a major public education programme aimed at helping fishermen to form and strengthen support organisations, while the Ministry is in the process of doing the costing for a communication system that will allow fishermen to communicate when they are at sea.
A total of $6 million was spent to refurbish the Rae Town Fishing Beach, with improved facilities put in place to benefit the 110 fisherfolk and their immediate families.
The project, which began in December 2008, included the renovation of the bathroom facilities to create a better sanitary environment, repairs to the existing seawall, and the upgrading of some 48 gear sheds used for the storage of equipment such as fishnets, gas and engines.
In his remarks, Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Rev. Ronald Thwaites, stated that the redevelopment of the beach is a sign of interest on the part of the Government “in ensuring that there is dignity and purpose and profit in the craft of fishing.
“We are very grateful for the contribution that has been made in renewing the gear sheds and ancillary facilities. We promise to keep them in good condition, to pay the water rates for using the facility, and to see this event as an encouragement, as a caring gesture on the part of the Government and we look forward to a good future,” he added.