Fri | Nov 15, 2019

Western Ja to get three fish sanctuaries

Published:Saturday | October 26, 2019 | 12:08 AM

Three fish sanctuaries are being established between Montego Bay and Lucea, using the model put in place by the Oracabessa Marine Trust, which has proven to be a success in St Mary.

The trust has brought together Golden Eye’s Oracabessa Foundation and the Oracabessa Fishermen’s Association to be integral partners in the establishment of the Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary.

At the same time, alarm is being raised that funding of fish sanctuaries may be in danger with the banning of conch harvesting, which has been the source of funding for the sanctuaries.

“We have received US$150,000 from the Global Environment Fund to start three other sanctuaries between Montego Bay and Lucea, and this is utilising our model, that is, the collaboration between tourism stakeholders and fishermen associations,” Travis Graham, executive director of Oracabessa Foundation told The Gleaner on Thursday.

Graham said several hotels on that side of the island have shown interest in the two-year project, which started in August and is currently at its preliminary stage.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN

But while the establishment of additional fish sanctuaries is a welcome move, Graham says the government’s banning of conch harvesting is a cause for concern.

“Sanctuaries are presently receiving support through the fisheries department, from the fisheries development fund, which is based on a cess from conch, and with the banning of the conch that support is possibly in jeopardy,” said a concerned Graham.

He explained that the Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary gets just about 30 per cent of what is needed to operate from the Government, but that support is vital and should remain in place.

“We believe fish sanctuaries are one of the best conservation models. Marine parks are so big, they have been proven not to work as efficiently, and we think it is important for the government to really show their commitment to marine conservation by ensuring there is a mechanism in place to support the establishment and the management of the sanctuaries islandwide,” Graham stated.

– C.G.