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Agriculture Ministry Working To Fast-Track New Fisheries Act
KINGSTON (JIS) -- Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda, says he is working to speed up the process for the passage of the new fisheries Bill. He noted that the legislation, which will replace the Fisheries Act of 1976, is high on the legislative agenda. “We are attending to it. There is hardly a week that goes by that we don’t try to accelerate the pace through which it has to travel and the course it has to take. Mr. Chuck (Justice Minister) agreed to take it to the Legislative Committee and then to Parliament,” he said. Minister Samuda was addressing the opening of the 15thCaribbean Fisheries Forum at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston on March 30. The new Act will establish the legal and regulatory framework in creating the enabling environment for the sustainable growth of the fisheries sector. This includes ramping up measures to tackle poaching or illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Jamaican waters.
Minister Samuda said the Government is implementing several measures to address IUU, including improving surveillance via offshore patrol vessels and the planned use of drone technology.
Discussions are under way with the Ministries of National Security, and Transport and Mining with respect to the crafting of a tri-ministerial submission on the drone project.
Minister Samuda said the recent acquisition of new vessels by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard has produced dividends, with the interception of an illegal vessel near the Pedro Cays on March 25. An illegal firearm was discovered on board and the matter is to go before the courts.
The Agriculture Minister noted that IUU fishing affects Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.
New Fisheries Act…2
Conservative estimates are that Jamaica loses in excess of US$10 million per year from poaching of spiny lobsters on the Pedro Banks. It is also believed that Jamaica loses approximately US$1.03 million from the poaching of conch.
Mr. Samuda said eradicating poaching will require a collaborative effort from the 17 member states of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).
This body, officially inaugurated in 2003 in Belize City, Belize, where it is headquartered, promotes “the responsible utilisation of the region’s fisheries and other aquatic resources for the economic and social benefits of the current and future population of the region”.
The two-day meeting of the Caribbean Fisheries Forum, which is being hosted by the Ministry, will provide an update on the progress of the technical activities being undertaken by the CRFM.
It will also prepare recommendations on the way forward for consideration by the CRFM Ministerial Council that will meet on May 19 in Guyana. The Council is the chief policymaking body on fisheries in the Caribbean region.