Jamaicans should see an increase in enforcement and monitoring to curb the unethical practice of overfishing, this year.
This was disclosed by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr, during his presentation at the 18th Jamaica Stock Exchange Investment and Capital Markets Conference, last Wednesday (January 25), at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
The minister said the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) is focused on expanding its cadre of staff to achieve the increased vigilance.
Overfishing refers to the removal of a species of fish from a body of water faster than the rate at which the species can replenish its population naturally, resulting in the species becoming underpopulated in the particular area.
“The main ways to address that issue are to define fish sanctuaries, to extend training, and to have robust monitoring and enforcement, and we are doing all three,” the minister emphasised.
He said there are currently 18 fish sanctuaries and another two will be added, while also hinting at a “special announcement” of a “very skilled individual who will be assisting, particularly in terms of a focus in bringing investment and support for fish sanctuaries” within the next two months.
Renewed calls for investments in the fisheries sector
At the same time, the minister renewed his call for investments in the fisheries sector, pointing to its enormous untapped potential.
“Fisheries is a short-term, immediate opportunity… . We need the skills and the investment, and we’re calling for it right now,” Charles Jr said.
He also noted, however, that while there are a lot of opportunities these must be sought after with respect for the environment in order to be sustainable.
“So, we need to invite the kind of large, long-term investments from persons who understand that balance is required between the economic return and environmental sustainability, because climate change and the environment are directly and inextricably connected to agricultural resilience,” the minister said.