Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that there will be stricter monitoring of fishing beaches to ensure that unsafe chemicals are not being used to preserve fish.
Making the announcement at the re-opening on July 8, of the upgraded Parottee Fishing Beach in St. Elizabeth, Dr. Tufton said he has instructed the Veterinary Division to carry out more routine tests, the results of which will be made public.
“The Veterinary Division will collaborate with the Ministry of Health to run tests across fishing beaches in the island and publicise those that are clean, and expose those that are dirty, so that we can have the necessary enforcement,” he stated.
Recently, government chemists reported that levels of the chemical formaldehyde, used as an embalming agent, were found in samples of fish taken from the Mandeville market in Manchester. The tests were carried out after persons complained of getting sick after consuming fish bought at the market. Further tests and investigations are to be carried out to determine the source of the formaldehyde.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (2nd left), cuts the ribbon to the new gear shed at the Parottee Fishing Beach in St. Elizabeth, where fisher folks will store their equipment. Occasion was the opening of the upgraded fishing beach on July 8. Looking on (from left) are: Mayor of Black River, Councillor Jeremy Palmer: President of the Parottee Fishing Group, Alton Forbes; and Councillor for the Pedro Plains Division, Derrick Sangster.
Minister Tufton told the fisher folk at the re-opening, that they have a responsibility to expose those in the trade that are engaged in illegal and unhealthy practices. “Expose them so that the authorities can weed them out of the sector and ensure that the good players don’t suffer,” he urged.
The upgrading work at the Parottee Fishing Beach involved the reconstruction of the bathrooms and gear shed, and correcting faulty electrical wiring. The food stalls were also given a facelift.
A total of 30 fishing beaches across the island have been targeted for upgrading, with 15 already completed. Infrastructural work is underway at Old Harbour Bay in St. Catherine, while work is slated to start soon at Rocky Point, Clarendon.
Minister Tufton said the improvement being undertaken is to provide fisher folk with clean, safe and more comfortable surroundings from which to operate, and urged them to take care of the facilities.
Turning to impending legislation to govern activities in the sector, Dr. Tufton said that while stringent, they are not geared at preventing or lowering earnings, but to develop the fisheries industry.
“They are intended to support sustainable fishing, not to be hard on the fisher folk. It is about trying to ensure that your generation can benefit from the fisheries sector, the next generation, and the one after that,” the Minister stated.