Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, says stronger methods of coastal surveillance will be implemented, to mitigate poaching in Jamaican waters and protect the island’s fisheries.
This comes against the background of the 57 fishermen from the Dominican Republic who were intercepted and detained by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard on Saturday, March 2, after they were caught fishing illegally along the Pedro Banks.
The poachers were reportedly caught with more than 15,000 pounds of conch and other sea wildlife.
At the 64th Hague Agricultural Show in Trelawny on March 6, Mr. Shaw pointed out that the Jamaican Government has imposed a one-year ban on the harvesting and trading of conch from March 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020, due to a depleted population.
The Minister told JIS News that continued conch fishing is unacceptable and he is prepared to provide the necessary equipment for maritime surveillance.
“We now have more equipment than before and that additional equipment can assist in stronger surveillance. So, we are really concentrating heavily on interdiction and investigation,” he added.
Mr. Shaw stressed the importance of reviving the conch population, “as overfishing can lead to total extinction of valuable mollusc from the country’s waters.”
“It is a combination of overfishing from our local people and illegal fishing from fisherfolk from other countries,” the Minister said.
“It cannot be that those who remain legal are following the rules, and others are renegades out there. It’s not just local people but foreign people as well. So, we are going to put a lot of emphasis on the management of the security around,” he added.
In the meantime, Mr. Shaw said that despite the ban, Jamaica still has plenty of conch in storage, adding that the country is prepared to import the item in the event of a shortfall.
The Hague Agricultural Show had on display the best of Trelawny’s farming sector. The event also featured livestock competitions, exhibits, farmers’ competition, the 2019 Farm Queen Pageant and more.