Fishermen face new restrictions
Published: Thursday | July 9, 2009
Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton announced the new bans in Parliament Tuesday during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate.
The fishing industry has been hit by a dwindling supply, Tufton said.
He said snapper and grouper now represented approximately 10 per cent of the catch, down from 40 per cent two decades ago.
Overall, the islandwide catch has been down 30 per cent.
In exactly a year, Government will place a ban on fish meshes that measure less than one and half inches to prevent the capture of immature fish.
Both home-made and manufactured mechanical spearguns will also be banned by next March.
"We are not banning spear-fishing," Tufton clarified, "just the mechanical spearguns, which have had a lethal impact on our breeding fish stock and on our reefs."
He said the Government will exchange each mechanical gun with a Hawaiian sling, which is slightly less accurate but effective for spearfishing, in a programme to be announced.
Spearfishing while diving at night will also be banned. The minister said it has been killing fish which are at rest.
Fishers will also be required to get special permits for compressors and other mechanical devices used for underwater breathing. That rule will also come into effect March next year.
The agriculture minister also said his ministry would be tightening up on other illegal forms of fishing like dynamiting, bleaching or the use of any other toxic substances. Failing to show registration on boats will also attract zero tolerance.
Another strategy to help the fishing industry includes a closed lobster season. This means there should be no storage or consumption of the shellfish.
Added to that, eight fish sanctuaries are to be allocated $36.2 million from the Budget and a cess has been placed on conch exports.
The last measure is expected to yield $59.5 million in revenue.