The Bill will provide the framework for the proper regulation of the sector and efficient and effective management of the island’s fisheries resources.
Mr Clarke made the disclosure while making his contribution to 2014/15 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives, Wednesday, April 23.
“The challenges to our marine resources due to overexploitation are well documented. We therefore continue to support the maintenance of our 14 declared sanctuaries, and I am advised that already we are seeing a rejuvenation of the stock in these protected areas,” he said.
Mr Clarke noted that amendments were recently made to the current Fisheries Act to significantly increase fines and deal with other urgent matters relating to the management of the fisheries resources.
In the meantime, he said the Ministry is in consultation with the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard and the Marine Police to acquire two drones.
He explained that the acquisition will assist in bolstering surveillance and monitoring of the vast marine space, and also to increase safety at sea.
Mr Clarke further informed that these drones will be fitted with cameras and be deployed as necessary, and will have the capacity to transmit data back to base, which will assist in detecting and deterring poachers, as well as assist with search and rescue at sea. He added that this is to be funded by a private sector entity.
Highlighting activities in relation to aquaculture, he said the Aquaculture Development Strategy has been completed.
“Consistent with this strategy we have obtained the approval of the Ministry of Finance and Planning to suspend, for one year, the duties applicable to floating fish feed.
We are taking concrete steps to introduce new, more productive species into the sector,” he said.
Mr Clarke pointed out that the Ministry is currently engaged in the procurement process in relation to restoration of some 12 ponds in the Aquaculture Branch as well as increasing their capacity to produce fingerlings to satisfy the needs of the industry.
He further informed that the Ministry is also working closely with Rainforest Seafoods to expand the marketing outlets for inland fish farmers.