Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, has announced that a socio-economic census is to be conducted on the Pedro Cays to determine, among other things, the number of persons occupying those areas and the extent and status of infrastructure, to which they have access.
“It cannot be that we have (for example) a population of one thousand people on the cays, without (adequate) sanitary conveniences and other things. We are (also) going to make sure that those people who are on the cays are (there) legitimately, to deal with fishing,” the Minister said, while addressing Friday’s (Nov. 9) launch of the Caribbean Fish Sanctuary Partnership Initiative (C-FISH) in Bluefields, Westmoreland.
His comments came against the background of recent reports of the prevailing unsanitary conditions at the Pedro Cays, which are situated south of Jamaica. The cays are frequented by fisher-folk, mainly from southern parishes, who make their livelihood from fishing activities in that region.
In the wake of the reports, Mr. Clarke announced plans for a major clean-up of the cays, at a cost of $4 million, in collaboration with several government and non government agencies and stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the Minister also announced plans to institute a programme of “sustainable management” at the cays, on completion of the clean-up effort. In underscoring the need for this undertaking, Mr. Clarke contended that it was in the nation’s interest that the current “unregulated” situation there be addressed.
In noting that the fisheries industry had sustained damage and dislocation amounting to approximately $90 million, consequent on the recent passage of Hurricane Sandy, Minister Clarke gave the assurance that his Ministry was moving with dispatch to provide relief to the sector’s stakeholders.
The Caribbean Fish Sanctuary Partnership Initiative (C-FISH) is a four year £2.1 million ($302 million) project, being funded under United Kingdom-based Department for International Development (DFID).
It will facilitate the provision grant funding and technical support to fish sanctuary operations in Jamaica, Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Jamaica is earmarked to receive some US$400,000 ($36 million) in this regard.
The project’s implementation across the region is being spearheaded by the Caribbean Climate Change Centre (CCCC).