New Fisheries Act to come into force soon

Thursday, April 04, 2019

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MINISTER of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw says the new Fisheries Act has been promulgated and will come into force soon.

He explains that this new law will not only facilitate modern fisheries management and development strategies, and significantly increase the maximum fines for breaches of the law, but will also transform the Fisheries Division into the National Fisheries Authority (NFA).

Shaw's speech was read by chief technical director for special projects in the ministry, Courtney Cole, at the Jamaica Fishermen Co-operative Union Limited annual general meeting, held at The Knutsford Court Hotel on Tuesday.

“The authority will be properly staffed and resourced to better meet the challenges of managing and developing the fisheries and aquaculture subsector,” the minister said.

Shaw informed that among the key improvements to be facilitated by the creation of the NFA is the establishment of a compliance division, which will have staff dedicated to fisheries surveillance.

“The NFA's compliance staff will certainly bolster the cadre of existing enforcement personnel from the partner entities, such as the National Environment and Planning Agency, Special Fishery Conservation, the Jamaica Defence Force, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force, among others,” he said.

The minister also noted that in addition to the increased number of enforcement officers, fisheries surveillance and enforcement will be further enhanced by the use of modern technology.

Shaw pointed out that the vessel monitoring system (VMS) will be mandatory for all motor fishing vessels, adding that this technology will enable the authorities to tell which vessels are legitimately in the country's water and where they are.

“Where possible, we will also use satellite imagery, along with the VMS information, to assist with our surveillance activities and help to identify and locate foreign poachers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shaw pointed out that enforcement and technology will not completely eradicate illegal fishing by foreign poachers.

He said that the approach to poachers requires a comprehensive, multipronged strategy that will see action, not only at the local level, but also at the bilateral, regional and international levels.

The minister said the Government will be engaging the countries from which poachers emanate, to establish practical mechanisms to eliminate these illegal incursions into the country's marine space.

“At the regional and international levels, Jamaica will solicit support, collaboration and cooperation from regional organisations, such as the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism; and international bodies, such as the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna and the West Central Atlantic Fishery Commission,” Shaw added.

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