Stiffer fines coming for fishing breaches
HIGHER fines are coming for breaches of the Fisheries Act, minister with responsibility for Information, Senator Sandrea Falconer, told reporters on Thursday.%
Falconer, who was speaking at the Jamaica House press briefing, said Cabinet has given approval of an increase of all monetary penalties and custodial sentences under the Fishing Industry Act, aimed at strengthening enforcement efforts to curtail a number of problems facing the industry.
"The fishing industry continues to be adversely affected by issues such as pollution, overfishing, foreign poaches in Jamaica's maritime water, invasive alien species, and degradation of critical nursery and breeding ground for fish stock," she said. Dafting instructions, Falconer said, have already been issued to the chief parliamentary counsel.
She said that current fines for breaches are low, ranging from $20 to $5,000, with many paying scant regard to the provisions under the Act.
The revised Fisheries Bill will provide the framework for the proper regulation of the sector and efficient and effective management of the island's fisheries resources, said the minister.
In the meantime, Minister Falconer said Cabinet has approved an Inter-Ministerial Committee under the Chair of Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries to create an appropriate management regime for the Pedro Cays.
"This follows consideration of the findings of the socio-economic survey and carrying capacity study concluded on the Pedro Cays, North East Cay and Middle Cay," she said.
The study was commissioned to, among other things, determine the carrying capacity, the number of people residing and working on the cays and obtain the relevant socio-economic data as well as recommend measures to avoid further depletion and degrading of the natural resources and sanitary conditions.
Falconer said that the Pedro Bank has been used by fishers since the 1950s and currently, 430 operators are licenced to operate from the area.
"Issues of unlicenced fishers, the lack of adequate infrastructure and human and solid waste management, and the generally deplorable conditions on the cays have been among the problems affecting the fragile eco-system," she said.
She added that as at April 2014, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has allocated $34.5 million towards the management of the Pedro Cays.