- The Aquaculture, Inland and Marine Products and By-Products (Inspection, Licensing and Export) (Change of Name and Amendment) Act, 2013, was passed in the House of Representatives in July.
- Some 2,000 fisher folk from six parishes benefitted from the donation of well-needed safety gear, as part of the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI).
- A manual titled ‘Jamaica Ornamental Fish Quality Assurance Programme’ was produced and presented to the Ministry in November.
Throughout 2013 the Government continued its drive to further develop and adequately monitor the fisheries sector, undertaking several initiatives in the thrust.
BILLS PASSED TO ENHANCE SECTOR
Of significance was the passage of two pieces of legislation in Parliament, one of which sought to address the import of aquaculture products into Jamaica, and to establish proper and adequate guidelines for all aspects of the fishing industry.
The Aquaculture, Inland and Marine Products and By-Products (Inspection, Licensing and Export) (Change of Name and Amendment) Act, 2013, was passed in the House of Representatives in July.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, who piloted the Bill, said it also sought to plug loopholes discovered in the Act, since the opening of the conch season in 2001 and make provision for imports.
The Bill also spoke to effectively monitoring the sanitary requirements for fishery products, to ensure that fishing is being conducted using the requisite international standards.
Also passed in July was the Conch (Export Levy) (Validation and Indemnity) Act 2013, which sought to validate the levy of US$1per pound of conch exported which was charged during the 2011 conch season.
It sought specifically to confirm as lawful, the acts done in good faith by officers of the Veterinary Services Division in the collection of levies from conch exporters in relation to the 2011 conch season.
The mandatory collection of conch levies originated from the passing of the Conch (Export Levy) Act in 2009, which came into being in order to facilitate the sustainable management and development of the fisheries sector in Jamaica by imposing a levy on the export of conch, and establishing the Fisheries Management and Development Fund.
FISHER FOLK GET SAFETY GEAR
The safety of the nation’s fisher folk also received priority attention during the year, when in February, some 2,000 fisher folk from six parishes benefitted from the donation of well-needed safety gear, as part of the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), spearheaded by the Agriculture Ministry.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, said the programme would not only improve the personal safety of local fishers, but also the quality of seafood Jamaicans consume.
It is geared at increasing awareness among local fishers, of the need to practise safety at sea, thereby reducing the incidences of being lost at sea or losing their lives, as well as improving the quality assurance of local seafood.
Under the project, fisher folk from the fishing communities of Old Harbour Bay St. Catherine; Savanna-la-Mar , Belmont and Whitehouse, Westmoreland; Annotto Bay and Pagee, St. Mary; Manchioneal, Portland; Discovery Bay, St. Ann; and Rocky Point, Clarendon, received life jackets and marine distress flares to be used while at sea.
The programme also aims to promote sustainability of the fishing industry and will complement work being done under the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) project, which is upgrading physical infrastructure at six fishing beaches islandwide.
The project received funding support of some $21.6 million from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the World Bank.
ORNAMENTAL FISH MANUAL LAUNCHED
To standardise the production of ornamental fish in the country, a manual titled ‘Jamaica Ornamental Fish Quality Assurance Programme’ was produced and presented to the Ministry in November.
It is designed to guide, standardise and certify the operations of some 100 fish farmers and put them at an advantage to tap into the US$400 million export market. The manual provides a sound and practical way of achieving high standards for the ornamental fish sector. It offers guidelines to farmers, breeders, exporters and importers of pet fish.
The document was developed by the Jamaica Ornamental Fish Quality Assurance Programme (JOFQAP), being implemented by The Competitiveness Company with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The JOFQAP provides an effective mechanism and standards for the production and trade of ornamental fish, to ensure the bio-security of local stocks and to prevent the export of sick or diseased fish from Jamaica to export markets. The aim is to grow the industry into an internationally acceptable and viable export sector.
Since 2011 the USAID has been working with The Competitiveness Company to develop the local sector and specifically introduce ornamental fish farming to unemployed young men in the inner city.
AGRO PARK FOR FISH PRODUCTION
More good news was in store for the sector when Minister Clarke announced that of the nine agro parks being developed across the island, the Hill Run facility in St. Catherine would be dedicated to fish production.
Minister Clarke said arrangements are being made “where our local processors and people who import tilapia can buy into our local production”.
“We are working to see how we can up the breeds, and we are working with an entity that has brought in new genetic material, and is also producing these fish quite successfully,” he said.
Through a tri-partite partnership involving the Government, farmer/investors, and the private sector, a total of nine agro parks are being established across the island, which are projected to realise foreign exchange savings of some $4 billion, provide employment for about 5,000 persons, increase agricultural output and reduce the importation of targeted crops.