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Back to drawing board with new Fisheries Act – Shaw

Published:Wednesday | March 13, 2019 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer

Less than six months after it was unanimously passed into law, the adequacy of the Fisheries Act, 2018 has been called into question by Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw, who made public his concerns yesterday.

“We have just actually passed a new Fisheries Act, but even though we have passed it, I am concerned as to whether the issues of the penalties, the enforcement side, whether it’s even adequate,” he told ­journalists at his Hope Gardens office.

Shaw, who was addressing a media briefing on the crisis caused by depletion of the queen conch, for which he issued a close season from March 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020, went on to explain his sense of urgency.

“So it is still a work in progress, and I want it reviewed, and I’ll be sitting with our lawyers at the ministry and the Attorney General’s Department (because) we have to take a very careful look at it because this thing is an emerging crisis for Jamaica. It cannot be that we are gonna sit back and allow foreigners to come and deplete all our resources illegally.”

Passed into law on October 12, 2018, the act, which replaces the 1976 Fishing Industry Act, had been in gestation since 1995 and was envisioned to provide the enabling institutional framework for modernising Jamaica’s industry and have it conform with international best practices and norms.

In his address to last year’s International Fisherman’s Day Conference in Runaway Bay, St Ann, Shaw had expressed ­satisfaction with the passage of the legislation.

“This bill will not only provide the legal provision to facilitate sustainable fisheries management and development, but will also establish the Fisheries Authority that will transform the [Fisheries] Division into an entity that will be better staffed and resourced to serve the fisheries and aquaculture subsectors,” he explained.

Government, Shaw said, was looking to use it to maximise the fisheries industry’s potential to contribute to Jamaica’s economic growth.

“We must get to [the] point of a modern and coordinated ­fishing industry that will help us to achieve our aspiration for wealth creation and economic growth,” he told fisherfolk.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com