Jamaica to Fast-Track New Fisheries Bill

27 June 2016, at 1:00am

JAMAICA - The Fisheries Bill, aimed at protecting the multimillion-dollar industry and safeguarding the welfare of fisherfolk is to be brought to Parliament shortly.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Karl Samuda, who gave the commitment, said he intends to ensure that passage of the legislation is expedited, reports the JamaicaObserver.

He was addressing a press briefing at the close of the two-day retreat of the 10th Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) at Iberostar Rose Hall Suites in Montego Bay on June 17.

Minister Samuda said that in addition to increasing fines for breaches, the Bill will introduce a regime for ticketable offences, similar to what exists with traffic fines, where offenders make payments at the tax office.

It will also include new categories of licences such as for local fishing vessels, foreign vessels, and high seas fishing.

“That is an important part of the new provisions. We are desperately going to try all that we can to encourage members of the industry to go further out to set their traps and fish for deep-water, open-sea type of fish such as tuna and other species that will expand the market,” Minister Samuda said.

He said the Fisheries Bill will also provide for the constitution of the Fisheries Licensing Authority.

“Currently, the Licensing Authority is vested in one person. That will change. This new Fisheries Bill will allow for a nine-member Licensing Authority with all the provisions and safeguards for greater transparency. The key to our success will be based on our commitment to the principles of transparency and fair play,” he said.

He informed that a 13-member National Fisheries Advisory Council will also be established that will give guidance to the Minister on all matters relating to fisheries and aquaculture.

The estimated value of the global fishing industry stands at US$136 billion, with the local sector worth about US$86.84 million.

Statistics from the Ministry shows that last year the industry earned US$13.3 million from the export of fish products, including conch, processed and raw fish.