Kong urges increased protection of fisheries sector from larceny
Andre Kong, director of fisheries in the agriculture ministry, is urging the security forces to increase their efforts in helping to secure the livelihood of more than 24,000 stakeholders in the fishing industry. He wants them to crack down on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the sector.
Kong said larceny severely undermines the economic and ecological viability of fisheries in Jamaica and has contributed to the closure of two large aquaculture farms in 2013, resulting in the loss of 338 jobs.
He was speaking at a Praedial Larceny Prevention Workshop for police officers organised by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Jamaica Constabulary Force at the Medallion Hall in St Andrew recently.
The director of fisheries said that widespread larceny by foreign poachers also negatively impacts the number of licences available to Jamaicans such as the industrial spiny lobster vessel licences.
Jamaica has 23,594 fishers producing about 14,000 metric tons of fish, satisfying 33.2 per cent of total demand for fish and fish products and contributes 0.3 per cent to the country's gross domestic product.
Noting that the fisheries sector suffers an annual loss in excess of $1.4b owing to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and larceny, Kong said, "Every year, about 93,750 pounds of berried lobsters is caught in Jamaican waters by foreign poachers, resulting in the loss of the offspring of these spiny lobsters that would have valued some $231.6 billion in four years."
Among the challenges outlined by Kong in prosecuting foreign poachers is that approximately 20 per cent of the crew members may be juveniles and the provision of basic necessities such as food for the crew members which number more than 100 in some cases.