Green vows strong action against poachers
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green has signalled his intention to take strong action against poachers who continue to plunder Jamaica’s territorial waters.
Green, who delivered the keynote address at the formal handover of a twin-engine, seven-person-capacity patrol boat valued at US$165,000 at the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club recently, said the time had come to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing substantively.
“We are taking a zero-tolerance approach to those who want to benefit – poach and conduct IUU fishing in our waters. This Government will not tolerate it,” he declared.
Policing Jamaica’s territorial waters is complicated because the marine space is 25 times the size of its landmass, which is estimated at 4,411 square miles.
The Food and Agriculture Organization reports that between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish is caught through IUU fishing every year, with the cost to the global industry estimated at between US$10 billion and $23 billion annually.
The phenomenon continues to undermine the food security and nutrition of small-island developing states such as Jamaica.
Green said Jamaica has made significant gains in improving its fish stock by strengthening support to marine sanctuaries and called on locals to play their part to help. He also committed to drawing on more support from the international community to stamp out trespassing.
“We have seen, through the sanctuaries, the rebuilding of our fish stock, but we are at a delicate time, and that is why the Government is taking this big step, with the help of the World Bank, to put more money into enforcement and protection.
“But we also need the help of our fisherfolk to ensure that they see it as part of their responsibility to help us protect our sanctuaries,” he appealed.
Despite the challenges, Green said his ministry was now more empowered and positioned to tackle IUU fishing with the transformation of its fisheries division into an executive agency and promulgation of a new Fisheries Act.
He said the acquisition of the enforcement vessel, courtesy of the World Bank, was also critical to the promotion of climate resilience in the fisheries sector.