KINGSTON — More than 30 wardens and other stakeholders within the fisheries sector are benefitting from a three-day enforcement training workshop organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
The training exercise, which commenced on May 18 at the Farmers’ Training Centre, Twickenham Park, St. Catherine, aims to strengthen and reinforce understanding of the provisions of the Fishing Industry Act of 1975, particularly the preservation of the island’s 11 fish sanctuaries.
These areas are zones reserved for reproduction of the fish population where no fishing of any kind is permitted. The 11 existing sanctuaries include two established more than 15 years ago and nine declared by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton in 2009.
Speaking at Wednesday’s opening ceremony, Chief Executive Officer, Fisheries Division, Commander Richard Russell, pointed out that Dr. Tufton’s declaration of the sanctuaries two years ago was out of recognition that some “drastic action” was needed to protect the sector, which was being affected by overfishing.
He urged the participants, once they have completed the training, to “go and help to advance the country’s agenda in protecting our fish stock."
“You have to…enforce the law…and it will also mean talking to your friends and your family, etc. and trying to educate them as well. So, I want you to take this training very seriously,” Commander Russell implored.
Topics to be covered during the training include: powers and responsibilities of fisheries inspectors; surveillance strategies at sea; search and seizure; preservation of evidence; standard operating procedures; community relations; environmental education; and dealing with violations.
Presentations and lectures will be delivered by representatives from several public sector agencies and departments, including the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF); Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP); National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA); Caribbean Coastal Area Management (C-CAM); and the Ministry.
At the end of the intensive three-day course, which concludes on Friday (May 20), participants, who have successfully completed all modules, will be presented with a certificate.
They will also be recommended to be appointed as fisheries inspectors, empowering them under the Fishing Industry Act, to execute the provisions of the legislation, which governs the sector’s operations and activities, particularly within the designated sanctuaries.
Cabinet, in 2008, approved the establishment of nine sanctuaries in seven critical areas across the island, to complement the existing two at Bogue Island Lagoon in Montego Bay, St. James; and Bowden Inner Harbour in St. Thomas.
The others are in Black River Bay, St. Elizabeth; Portland Bight in St. Catherine and Clarendon; Bluefields Bay, Westmoreland; Orange Bay, Hanover; Montego Bay,
St. James; Discovery Bay, St. Ann; and Oracabessa Bay, St. Mary. Persons caught fishing in the sanctuaries could face prosecution.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter