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B&D Trawling Spends millions on fishermen's safety

Published:Wednesday | July 29, 2015 | 7:00 AM
Roderick Francis (left), CEO of B&D Trawling, and Sean Francis (right) present safety devices to Derrick Osbourne and Sandra Bissiney of Artisinal Lobster Programme during a recent handover at Rocky Point.

Jamaica's fishermen are often lost at sea for days. Some have even been rescued by the coast guard of neighbouring islands and ferried back home. Others have never been seen or heard from again.

The B&D Trawling Company has noticed the plight of local fishermen, most of whom come from humble communities and have less-than-standard boating equipment, and decided to offer some assistance.

The company recently donated a number of Fast Find tracking devices, at a cost of $1.5 million, to ensure the safety of fishermen islandwide who might be lost or end up in other difficulties as they seek to make a living at sea.

Once activated, the Fast Find transmits a unique identification signal via the global 406-megahertz search-and-rescue satellite network.

It is connected to the Rescue Coordination Centre which then forwards details of the emergency to a designated local search-and-rescue (SAR) service.

The gadget features an in-built global positioning service (GPS) receiver that can pinpoint a lost fishing vessel's location to within several feet.

Another feature of the Fast Find is a 121.5-megahertz secondary homing transmitter, which enables SAR teams in its range to pinpoint the exact location of the vessel in distress.

This is the latest in a series of kind gestures by B&D Trawling to the fishing village of Rocky Point, which is based in the UNESCO-protected Portland Bight area.

civic duties

Earlier this year, the company donated solar street lights to the community valued at $300,000.

According to B&D CEO Roderick Francis, the company will do all in its power to assist the community of Rocky Point.

"B&D Trawling is delighted to assist the fishermen and women. We have to work with them on a daily basis. If we can aid in making their working environment safer and more secure, then we will all benefit in the long run," he said.

Francis said B&D Trawling saw the donation as carrying out its civic duties and was delighted to be of assistance to persons in genuine need.

"The donation was important as it fits in with the company's policy to uplift fishing communities to higher standards. In addition to donations, we want to do more meaningful work by developing their skills, through the establishment of the Bunny Francis Foundation to continue to hone artisanal fishers," Francis said.

B&D Trawling supports more than 2,000 fishermen on Jamaica's south coast and employs another 200 persons, with 80 per cent of that number being women.

B&D is the leading exporter of seafood in the island and employs only Jamaican fisherfolk to harvest conch, lobster and sea cucumbers.