Charles Jr pledges big support for fish farmers
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Pearnel Charles Jr (centre) shares information from one of two booklets with Permanent Secretary Dermon Spence (left) and CEO of the National Fisheries Authority, Dr Gavin Bellamy, during a post-sectoral briefing last week.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr last Tuesday announced an incentive package for fish farmers which will see them accessing up to 15,000 fry (young fish) per acre, free of cost for the first 50 new acres of fish ponds established this year.

Charles Jr made the announcement during his 2023/24 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 2.

The minister was outlining the investments being made in the fisheries sector, which he stressed was critical to the development of the Jamaican blue economy.

"Fisheries contributes to the livelihood of over 200,000 Jamaicans, contributing more than $10 billion to the GDP [gross domestic product], while earning export income of over US$14 million," Charles Jr said.

Noting that the Government was serious about agriculture and fisheries, the minister said that year over year, there was an increase in aquaculture production, which moved from 869 metric tonnes to 949 metric tonnes, representing a nine per cent growth over the period.

"We spent $13.2 million on a quarantine facility to enable the importation of brood stock for both shrimp and tilapia. We have $450 million worth of investment now being spent for the creation of the Climate Smart Recirculating Aquaculture System hatchery, with a potential to produce five million fry by 2025 and increase fish production up to 3,400 metric tonnes," Charles Jr shared, adding that to facilitate this production, the removal of the CET from fish and shrimp feed has been extended.

For mariculture, the agriculture and fisheries minister said his ministry continues to encourage production with the renovation of the Bowden facility in St Thomas to increase the production of oysters and sea moss to develop these two emerging subsectors.

"Parallel to this infrastructure, we have provided support in the form of two boats and two engines to enable two fishing communities in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, and Green Island, Hanover, to establish oyster farms as well as provide training and capacity building in production techniques and management," he said.

In addition, Charles Jr said the National Fisheries Authority (NFA), the ministry and other partners will be establishing two new fish sanctuaries this year, bringing the number to 20, with a sanctuary cover of 10,498 hectares.

"While encouraging our fishers to reduce the stress on our reefs, the NFA in collaboration with Caribbean Maritime University and The University of the West Indies have been providing training for small boat handling, safety at sea and safe diving practices to equip our fishers to exploit the under-utilised pelagic fishery using Fish Aggregating Devices and Longlines.

"We are also in the process of purchasing a 45ft vessel to allow for additional training with this initiative," Charles Jr said.

Meanwhile, the minister noted the establishment of a marine VHF communication system for improved communication for safety at sea and the establishment of a compliance, license and statistics division under the NFA to reduce, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

"This is no easy task but through cooperation with our international partners — the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] and the Blue Justice Initiative we will achieve reduction in incidents of interceptions towards the elimination of IUU fishing in Jamaica," Charles Jr added.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at


  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Which long-term investment option is more attractive to you at the moment?