Fishers get well-needed lifeline
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has rolled out a raft of relief and incentives to commercial, artisanal, inland and ornamental fishers, in a bid to revive the floundering subsectors.
The timing of the support amounting to $128 million is to ensure that the fishers are well equipped to participate in the upcoming season. This does not include the $83 million in COVID-19 grant support to 31 industrial fishers, to include holders of finfish, lobster and conch licences for the 2018 fishing season.
Total fisheries production for 2019 was 13,518.69 metric tonnes with 12,372.24 for marine and 1.146.45 for the aquaculture sectors, respectively. Production decreased marginally for 2020 with marine fisheries accounting for 12,000 metric tonnes and aquaculture netting 906 metric tonnes.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green used a press conference to explain the breakdown of the allotted sum in production incentives for aquaculture and commercial fishing operations as follows:
• Two hundred and sixty fishers in St Catherine and St Mary who have been impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown are to benefit from $8 million for mesh wire (or equivalent).
• Four thousand seven hundred and forty fishers are to benefit from $75 million for mesh wire (or equivalent) as relief and/or incentive for small- scale fishers impacted by COVID-19.
• Twenty-four million dollars allocated for cold storage; containers for strategic fishing beaches islandwide to enhance value chain support.
• Seventy-two farmers are to benefit from $10 million for fish feed for fish farmers impacted by COVID-19.
• Seventy-two farmers are to benefit from $10 million for fingerlings for fish farmers impacted by COVID-19.
• Twenty farmers are to benefit from $1 million for feed and equipment for ornamental fish farmers impacted by COVID-19.
“The timely intervention by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to provide production incentives to many of our licensed fishers will see a stabilisation of fish production for the 2021 calendar year. Aquaculture production, in particular, is expected to rebound by the October-December 2021 quarter, when it is anticipated that seed stock that is now being put into production will be ready for harvest,” Green explained.