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CMI trains fisherfolk across Jamaica through Gov't initiative

Published:Tuesday | December 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Herman Coley Senior and Jr share a proud moment as father and son, having received their certificate in safety at sea from executive director of the CMI, Dr Fritz Pinnock (centre), at the graduation ceremony for fisherfolk. - Contributed

Two hundred and fifty fisherfolk were trained and certified in basic safety at sea through an initiative between the Government and the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) School of Advanced Skills. This was done in an aim to implement measures that will ensure the sustainability of the fisheries industry. The programme forms part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries' $18.2 million Enhancement of the Cold Chain Supply and Safety Project. Graduates from this programme received their certificates during a ceremony held in their honour at the CMI, on Wednesday, November 19, 2014.

The programme, which had both theoretical and practical components, targeted fisher folk from across the island to participate in the three-day customised training exercise. This covered areas such as navigation skills, the safe use of life jackets and other safety equipment, as well as basic seamanship.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Luther Buchanan, during his keynote address at the function, informed that the Cold Chain Supply and Safety Project was in response to the challenges faced in the fishing industry, particularly in relation to safety at sea. He noted that the Fisheries Division accounts for eight per cent of all agricultural exports; therefore, the Government is committed to ensuring the sustainability of the sector, which "employs some 20,000 Jamaicans and provides them and their families with a source of livelihood and independence." He also cites initiatives like these as a way of improving the sector through modernisation of techniques, and training and education of the workforce.

According to director, School of Advanced Skills, CMI, Osric Forrest, the goal of the training course is to train at least 200 persons in eight parishes and 11 fishing beaches and that the certification of 250 graduates indicates that the programme was a success. He informed that focus was on elementary first aid, knowledge of sea and weather, types of emergency situations, understanding emergency signals, first-aid emergency drills, principles concerning survival at sea, and man-overboard actions. He also explained that one of the key aspects of the programme is its sustainability. He notes, "among the persons trained, we have selected top persons, who will also be trained as mentors. There are persons who will go on to be boat handlers".

The Enhancement of the Cold Chain Supply and Safety Project is being implemented by the Rural Economic Development Initiative of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund and is funded by the World Bank.