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Massive increases in fines and penalties proposed for fisheries breaches

Published:Monday | June 15, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Weighing activities taking place after a fishing boat gets in with a day’s catch.

Huge increases in penalties and fines have been proposed for breaches of Jamaica's fisheries law.

A bill, seeking to amend the existing Fisheries Act of 1976, which was laid in the House of Representatives last Tuesday, proposes fines of up to $3 million for fishing infractions.

Agriculture Minister Derrick Kellier said in Parliament last April that there is an "urgency attached to certain aspects of fisheries management", which necessitates the bringing of a bill.

"The plunder of our resources by poachers requires the urgent amendment of the act to increase the fines," the minister said.

In addition to increased finds, the bill proposes several new definitions of key terms, changing, for example, the way fish is to be regarded by law. Currently, fish includes shell fish, crustaceans, and marine or fresh water animal life.

The proposed new definition makes fish any aquatic plant or animal whether piscine or not (including their eggs and all juvenile stages thereof) and by-products and includes any aquatic mammal.

- D.L.

 

SOME OF THE FISHERIES FINES

 

- Fishing without a licence

Current law: $1,000 and, in default of payment, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months.

Proposed law: $3 million or a term of imprisonment for two years, or both fine and imprisonment.

- Failure to carry identification card

Current law: $20 and in default of payment thereof, imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month.

Proposed law: The fine is to be increased to $100,000.

- Using an unregistered or unlicensed boat

Current law: Fine not exceeding $200 and, in default of payment thereof, imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.

Proposed law: $3 million, or imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both fine and imprisonment ( Resident Magistrate's Court).

Fine or imprisonment for up to five years or both fine and imprisonment (Circuit Court).

- Not having registration marks displayed in the prescribed manner on the boat

Current law: Fine not exceeding $20 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month.

Proposed law: $500,000 fine.

- Disturbing any species of fish during closed season

Current law: (Conviction before a resident magistrate) Fine not exceeding $500 and, in default of payment, six months' imprisonment.

Proposed law: (Conviction in a Resident Magistrate's Court) $3 million, or up to 12 months' imprisonment, or both fine and imprisonment.

(Conviction in a Circuit Court) Fine or prison term not exceeding five years or both fine and imprisonment.

- Fishing in a declared fish sanctuary

Current law: Fine of $500 and, in default of payment, imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.

Proposed law: (Conviction in a Resident Magistrate's Court) $3 million, or up to 12 months' imprisonment, or both fine and imprisonment.

(Conviction in a Circuit Court) Fine or prison term not exceeding five years or both fine and imprisonment.

- Landing and sale of illegally caught fish

Current law: Fine not exceeding $1,000 and, in default of payment thereof, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months.

Proposed law: Conviction in a Resident Magistrate's Court) $3 million, or up to 24 months' imprisonment, or both fine and imprisonment.

(Conviction in a Circuit Court) Fine or prison term not exceeding five years or both fine and imprisonment.