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Government Looks to Revive Aquaculture Industry

Economics Politics +2 more

JAMAICA - The Jamaican Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, is to establish an Aquaculture Fisheries Monitoring Committee, as part of efforts to resuscitate the local aquaculture industry.

Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Dr. Marc Panton, said that the committee's terms of reference are currently being developed, with a primary mandate to examine the industry's output to strengthen supply to meet demand.

Speaking at the closing ceremony for the fisheries extension training course at the Fisheries Division's Marcus Garvey Drive offices in Kingston last week, Dr. Panton said that "it's a great time to be in aquaculture."

"Even though people say that there is a limited Jamaican palate for (fresh water) tilapia or pond fish, we know that, that is growing, and we know that the market for that (variety of) fish has tremendous opportunities.there is a renewed thrust towards redeveloping this industry," he said.

He contended that aquaculture provides an opportunity for an alternative livelihood for fisher-folk engaged in the competition for sea fish, noting that their engagement in aquaculture "will ease the pressure on those scarce resources".

Dr. Panton informed that as part of measures to resuscitate the sector, there is now a complete ban on all imports of tilapia products into Jamaica, so that "those who are in aquaculture. both small and large, will be given an opportunity to re-tool, to expand and get back into production of tilapia."

He acknowledged that while there are challenges to tilapia rearing, in terms of cost of energy, feed, and security "I can tell you that, in discussion with some of the major critical stakeholders, the excitement to get back into it and the belief that it can be brought back to previous levels, is very strong.'

The five-week training course was conducted under the Improving Jamaica's Agricultural Productivity Project (IJAPP). It formed part of capacity building activities being implemented under the project's sustainable marine fisheries management component.

Just over 30 sector stakeholders across the island, inclusive of instructors and officers participated in the course. They will serve as extension officers to the more than 40,000 fisher-folk islandwide.

The IJAPP is a three-year project, being jointly funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries at a cost of just over C$5 million.

In addition to sustainable marine fisheries management, the project will also focus on expanding green house production.