Sat | Feb 22, 2020

Where are they? - Kong questions the NGOs’ actions to save parrotfish

Published:Saturday | January 25, 2020 | 12:07 AM
Andre Kong
Andre Kong

Director of Fisheries in the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Andre Kong, is questioning what he deems as silence from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as it relates to parrotfish.

Jamaicans were being encouraged to save the parrotfish by stop fishing and eating it, through different campaigns, as it was instrumental in preserving the marine environment, as a decrease was observed in the population of the fish.

A ban was requested by lobby groups but in April last year, Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Audley Shaw, indicated that there would be no ban in place on parrotfish as it was not practical to impose a ban on a single species in a multispecies fishery, without serious negative impact on some of the most vulnerable citizens. However, since then there has been no word from the groups and Kong wants answers.

“You had people standing up beside fish vendors and telling people that them mustn’t buy the fish. They go to the market and stand beside them and discourage people from buying the fish. Where are these people? Where are they? It was so easy for them to have this big campaign talking and coming on the news and saying ban this or that but they have gone very silent,” said Kong.

“In order to ban it, you have to ban the gear, the trap and the net. The fishermen can’t control what goes into the net; that is going to stop them from making a livelihood. We need to look at another way that is going to assist the fishers.”

PREMATURE FISH

Kong added that most of the fish that are being caught are not fully grown and this is destroying the industry, making it hard for Jamaicans, but a ban is not the answer.

“All of these NGOs that are going out there and talking about we must banned parrotfish, that is total and utter nonsense, that is not the way to do it, because we have a multi species fishery. The fishermen set a trap and them can’t control what goes inside of the trap, so if you are going to talk about banning parrotfish, what you are going to do is to stop the livelihood of thousands of Jamaican fishers and even if you say you are going to have a closed season, which means that you are going to have to throw away the parrotfish when you catch it, they are going to die,” he noted.

Kong is recommending a holistic approach to the issue.

“That is, to have more protected areas like fish sanctuaries and then work with the fishermen so that they would catch bigger adult fish instead of the juvenile, to give the population a chance to replenish itself. What we need is a set of well-thinking Jamaicans that will help us crusade for the good of the country. That’s what we’re asking for,” said Kong.