KINGSTON – Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry says the aquaculture sub-sector can be beneficial for Jamaica, if it is adequately sustained, and made competitive.
Speaking at the opening of the first regional aquaculture development planning workshop at the Four Seasons Hotel in Kingston, yesterday March 14, Mr. Stanberry cited the increased demand for fresh water fish across the world, with this being the fastest growing sub-sector for food of animal origin.
Mr. Stanberry stressed that Jamaica therefore needs to tap into this market, adding that with the depleting fish stock, the sub-sector can provide significant relief to marine resources, as well as sustainable income for those involved.
“This is an opportunity for us to tap into. In Jamaica, we tend not to eat a lot of fresh water fish, but the world is out there in terms of a market, and the challenge for us is to organise our aquaculture sector to get more competitive, so that we can once again, even with the expanded opportunities under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), make use of that channel in terms of exports,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary emphasised that aquaculture provides tremendous benefits in terms of employment and rural development, and is far less susceptible to the weather, such as hurricanes, tsunamis and others.
He argued that the greatest challenge to the sector is to find ways to make it competitive and efficient. To this end, Mr. Stanberry said the Ministry must provide supportive measures, citing initiatives such as the cess on conch,which was implemented in 2009, and has over the last two conch seasons, brought in revenues of approximately $120 million.
“We are going to use those resources to provide the kind of support to the sector, that only governments can provide. We also have the Agricultural Development Fund, which is being funded from a cess on all imported agricultural products, including fisheries products, to be used to develop the agricultural sector,” he told the participants from six CARICOM countries and Japan.
In his address, Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency, Hiroshi Yamaguchi said the Caribbean, like Tsunami-stricken Japan, is gifted with aquaculture, surrounded by the sea and rivers from which it acquires many economic and social benefits.
“This partnership could not have been more opportune as Jamaica and CARICOM share a mutual desire to develop, and use aquatic resources in a sustainable manner, to support economic growth and human development,” he said.
Ambassador Yamaguchi added that the Japanese government’s involvement in the project is fitting, as Japan is well known as the most advanced country in fisheries management and aquaculture development.
The seven-day planning workshop is for a study on the formulation of a master plan on sustainable use of fisheries resources for coastal community development in the Caribbean. The Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is jointly undertaking the development study along with the CARICOM Secretariat and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Secretariat.
In addition to the master plan, the study aims to transfer relevant technologies to the institutions and staff of the CRFM member states, and Secretariat during the course of the study. A draft master plan is to be presented by November at a dissemination workshop.
The pilot for the project in aquaculture training and extension is being planned and carried out in Jamaica, in collaboration with the Fisheries Division in the Ministry.
“Over the next seven days participants will share experiences and lessons learnt from the promotion and development of agriculture within their respective countries, further analyse their aquaculture situations, and outline country specific actions plans,” Programme Manager, Fisheries Management and Development at the CRFM, Terrence Phillips informed.
They will also give consideration to the development of a regional network of aquaculture organisations, including fisheries authorities, research and training institutions, and other stakeholder organisations; and facilitate information sharing, research and capacity building.
CONTACT: ALPHEA SAUNDERS