Jamaica-Chinese MOU on fisheries
THE EDITOR, Sir:
It was interesting to read in The Sunday Gleaner on October 22, Dr Peter Edwards' piece on what he saw as the Chinese connection to our fisheries. I think though, that although he meant well, that he may have misinterpreted the thrust of the MOU with China and Jamaica's MICAF. Although I am not in any way privy to the government document, I do know of discussions that had taken place some time ago between major players and buyers in China concerning the export from Jamaica of "live spiny lobsters". I am not at present aware of anything, but certain private sector exports of unknown quantities of this item to China and nothing about Chinese fishing for lobsters either now or in the future in our waters.
So, what am I really saying? I think that the impression that Dr Edwards got was one mainly concerning Chinese fishing vessels appearing on our horizons with fishing nets and lines out. I suggest that this might not be the case as I know it, and it may have been to mainly facilitate special Jamaican fisheries exports to China. I must quickly say that that I am unsure if the lobster stock on Pedro Bank can sustainably support any directed fishery to support a special export of lobsters to China if this is what is being planned, as existing fishing pressure on lobsters there is extremely high at present and should not be increased any further. In fact, it needs to be reduced somewhat, in my view, based on recent feedback from some industrial lobster fishers.
As a teacher of aquaculture, I hope that this Chinese MOU might also facilitate future technology transfer about aquaculture to us here in Jamaica (remember the Chinese are one of the world's oldest exponents of this science), particularly about species groups, including sea cucumbers and seahorses, which they are reported to culture in significant quantities.
The country would benefit from the MICAF disclosing at least the major objectives of the MOU to see if our concerns and out hopes can be clarified and some light shed on the matters mentioned.
Dr Karl Aiken,
Senior Lecturer in zoology,
Department of Life Sciences,
UWI, Mona campus.