Thu | Feb 25, 2021

Green warns poachers as conch season to restart

Published:Thursday | January 28, 2021 | 12:32 AM
Staff of the Fisheries Division sort through 55,000 pounds of conch, crab, fish and lobster seized from poachers in 2019. Contributed
Staff of the Fisheries Division sort through 55,000 pounds of conch, crab, fish and lobster seized from poachers in 2019. Contributed

Poachers have been warned to steer clear of Jamaica’s waters as the Government announced the imminent lifting of the ban against conch fishing.

Conch harvesting had been prohibited for almost two years but will resume on April 1, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Floyd Green disclosed on Wednesday.

Green said that strict enforcement of the law against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing would be a priority of the National Fisheries Authority.

“If you do not have a licence to fish for conch, do not go into our waters. That is the message right across the board,” he told a press briefing.

There will be a total allowable catch of 250-300 metric tons between industrial and artisanal fishers. That floor is below the traditional catch but was precautionarily set to guard against overfishing of the marine resource that earns Jamaica about US$6 million per year.

B &D Trawling, one of the 31 industrial fishing companies that will get a share of the $83 million in government support to help them prepare for the reopening of the industry, has welcomed the assistance, though describing it as drop in the bucket when viewed against the accumulated losses suffered since the ban was imposed on March 1, 2019.

Chief executive officer of B&D Trawling, Roderick Francis, was nonetheless excited about the prospects for the new season but said it would take some time for the sector to turn the corner.

“It may take many years to recover from the shock of the closure and the pandemic, but we remain positive that the industry will continue to expand and contribute significantly to the Jamaican economy,” Francis told The Gleaner.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com