Drone ready for fisheries fight
ONE YEAR after the late agriculture minister Roger Clarke announced the acquisition of two drones to bolster surveillance and monitoring of vast marine space, and to increase safety at sea, the Ministry of Agriculture is reporting that the aircraft have arrived.
Derrick Kellier, who has assumed ministerial responsibility for the ministry since the death of Clarke, said in Parliament last Tuesday that the drones are "now being tested for early deployment".
The drones are to be used in the protection of Jamaica's fisheries resources, especially in light of the plundering of the country's fish stock by poachers.
Clarke had said the 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.
Contributing to the Sectoral Debate last week, Kellier said a critical plank of the protection of the fish stock will be the promulgation of a new fisheries law. He said the long-overdue bill, to replace the 1976 law, is to be tabled this year.
"I will also be bringing a bill to this House within weeks to amend the existing Fisheries Act of 1976, specifically to deal with increasing fines," Kellier said.
The minister also said proposals are heading to Cabinet for the amendment of the Conch Cess Levy Act of 2009 to make provisions for the imposition of a cess on other species.
"It is this cess that we will use to sustainably manage the resources, including the much-trumpeted clean-up of the Pedro Cays," Kellier said.