The Ministry has spent some $40.4 million on the management of these sanctuaries, which are no fishing zones reserved for the reproduction of fish population. The areas are breeding grounds for the fish population allowing young fish and other marine species to reach maturity.
The Ministry works with the fisher folk, to ensure that the restrictions are enforced, and to explain the importance of the sanctuaries to the country, the industry and the protection of their fishermen’s livelihood.
The sanctuaries are Bogue Island Lagoon, Montego Bay; Bowen Inner Harbour, St. Thomas; Orange Bay and Bluefields Bay, Westmoreland; Malcolm Bay, St. Elizabeth; Salt Harbour in Clarendon; Galleon Harbour and the Three Bays area in St. Catherine; Montego Bay, St James; Discovery Bay Lagoon, St. Ann; Boscobel and Oracabessa Bay in St. Mary; Sandals Whitehouse, Westmoreland; and Bird Cay, Pedro Banks.
Meanwhile, the Minister announced a slew of strategies to rebuild the aquaculture sector, which he says, has been challenged by heavy competition from cheaper imported tilapia and other fish, particularly those used in the fast-food industry.
The measures include: completion of an aquaculture development strategy to guide the development of this sub-sector; and two agro parks at Hillrun and Meylersfield, which will focus on the rehabilitation of abandoned fish ponds.
“These parks will come into operation in the latter part of this year, into next year…the government will provide infrastructure such as irrigation and roads (and) we are also engaging a major fish processor and distributor as well as a local hotel to buy our local production,” he informed.
Minister Clarke told the House that the Ministry recognises that the availability of quality seed stock has been problematic, and will be looking at rehabilitating the infrastructure at the Aquaculture Branch of the Fisheries Division, in order to provide quality stock, and research facilities.
The Fisheries Management Development Fund will finance these activities.