The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in collaboration with a number of other local authorities is taking steps to improve efforts to ensure the successful prosecution of foreign poachers fishing in Jamaican waters.
In a multi-agency workshop spearheaded by the Fisheries Division of the Ministry, over 50 participants representing some 13 agencies participated in the European Union-funded Workshop to Develop Mechanisms to Combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing by foreign poachers held Thursday, November 21) at the headquarters of the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard in Port Royal. The main objective of the workshop was to formulate a protocol regulating the procedures for managing the mechanisms to handle illicit fishing by foreign poachers.
In his remarks to officially open the workshop, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon. Roger Clarke, welcomed the initiative as a timely and necessary one. He said it was important to clearly identify the processes, timelines and the integrated approach that would be implemented once the poachers had been apprehended.
“At the end of the day,” Minister Clarke said, “the process must be efficient and effective… both in terms of cost and results by ensuring that foreign poachers, when caught, are dealt with expeditiously.”
He said further, that the scourge could not be allowed to continue as it was an assault on Jamaica’s sovereignty with far-reaching negative impact on the livelihood of Jamaicans and the economy of the country.
Conservative estimates from the Fisheries Division of the Ministry is that at least US$ 10 million is lost to Jamaica because of illegal poaching for lobster in Jamaican waters.
Noting that local fishers are also involved in IUU fishing and sometimes collaborate with the foreign poachers, the Minister said that ironically, more stringent measures were being imposed on the local fishers as part of national efforts to address the decline of local fish.
The unfortunate reality, the minister said was that foreign poachers continue to exploit weak links in our fisheries regulatory system. More....