Noted environmentalist Peter Espeut is cautioning Jamaica might have to ban the popular annual bird-shooting activity as it did about 40 years ago.
"We've been cutting down the number of birds that we allow the bird shooters to shoot every year, because the amount that is being shot is simply more than are born," he said. "But eventually one day, we will have to ban bird shooting as was done previously."
Espeut was speaking at a forum hosted by the Management Institute for National Development on Friday. The topic was 'Economic Development and the Environment: Jamaica at a Crossroads'.
In defining sustainable development in biological terms, Espeut described it as "harvesting animals and plants at or below their rate of natural increase".
Currently only four species, white-winged dove, bald-pate, pea dove and long-tailed pea dove can be hunted. There are set bag limits per hunter per shooting session, and shooting is restricted to Saturdays and Sundays, at specific times. But Espeut, in previous Gleaner columns, cautioned that poachers could undermine the sport. In September, Trinidad and Tobago's government ordered a two-year moratorium on bird shooting, citing preservation as its goal. Espeut likened his concerns to that of our sefood industry.
"You may know that CARICOM has determined that Jamaican waters are the most overfished in the Caribbean," he said.
Espeut admitted the Food and Agricultural Organisation does not have a global ranking for overfishing, but said he was certain Jamaica would rank among the highest.