Thirty fishers from St. Mary, who have been hit hard by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, have been provided with cash vouchers valued at $30,000 each to acquire fishing gear and other inputs.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, handed over the vouchers during a ceremony on Thursday (December 17) at St. Theresa Roman Catholic Church in Annotto Bay.
Grants in similar amounts were presented to fishers operating at Hellshire, Hunts Bay, Port Henderson, and Old Harbour Bay in St. Catherine on December 9.
The support is part of a broader incentive programme under which 4,740 licensed fishers across 137 communities, will receive vouchers valued at $15,000 each to purchase fishing gear.
Fisherfolk operating at fishing beaches in St. Mary and St. Catherine who were unable to go to sea due to lockdowns in May and April, respectively, were targeted for special assistance.
They would have lost or suffered damages to their fishing equipment that were at sea during the period and left unattended. These include primarily trap fishermen and some net and line fishers.
“We know for a lot of you, 2020 has been a challenging year, and we have to ensure that, just as we are there to respond to our farmers in their times of need, we have to be there to respond to our fishermen in their times of need,” Minister Green said.
He said it is important for the Government to offer assistance that will stimulate the fisheries sector at this time, and provide encouragement for those who want to get into fishing.
President of the South East St. Mary Fisherman’s Group, Natalee Lynch, thanked the Government for considering the fisherfolk in the parish and pledged to work with the Ministry for the development of the fisheries sector.