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Environmentalist raises concern about fish dynamiting

Published:Saturday | February 9, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Christopher Serju, Gleaner Reporter

SALT RIVER, Clarendon:THE INABILITY of the authorities to curb incidents of dynamiting by rogue fishers who continue to carry out this illegal activity unchecked, especially in the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA), is a matter of grave concern to Ingrid Parchment, executive director of the Caribbean Coastal Area Management (C-CAM) Foundation.

Parchment shared her frustration during C-CAM's observation of World Wetlands Day at its field office in Salt River, Clarendon, on Friday, February 1, a day earlier than the actual February 2 worldwide observance.

She told The Gleaner: "This whole matter of dynamiting has been a sore point in this area from Old Harbour Bay to Alligator Pond and nothing, nothing is being done. Dynamite does come not into this country like how you carry other things in your suitcase. It is a regulated thing. It should be one of the easiest things to stop."

Comparing the impact of one stick of dynamite to a very intense hurricane, in that it devastates the entire marine space within the explosion zone - killing in one blow, a number of marine species of all ages - she is not convinced that the marine police are on top of the situation.

"You are going to tell me that they don't know who is giving it to the fishermen going out there? Which fishermen have it?" she queried.

POLICE UNAWARE OF ISSUE

Meanwhile, a member of the Marine Police Division, headquartered in Kingston, said they were unaware that the dynamiting was an issue in the protected area which encompasses three fish sanctuaries.

However, an official in the fisheries division of the agriculture ministry said Parchment's concerns were well grounded in reality and a major concern for that agency as well. In fact, the fisheries expert also endorsed Parchment's recommendation for a comprehensive national environmental awareness campaign. This would include information about the impact of dynamiting on fish and how to recognise those so affected.

It is an issue about which the environmentalist is very passionate. "We need to educate people about what dynamited fish look like. What is really the size of a lobster we should be eating? These are things that we, as a people, need to consider because the more you kill off the baby fish, the less you have to catch and the thing is that they are killing off so much more than just fish."

In keeping with the day's activities which were celebrated under the theme 'Wetlands and Water Management', C-CAM's message to the many high school students in attendance centred on the importance of wetlands to Jamaica's sustainability and the livelihood of its people.