Thu | Jul 29, 2021

Fisherfolk rejoice at insurance safety net

Published:Friday | June 25, 2021 | 12:09 AM
A man walks past boats beached at the Old Harbour Fishing Village, St Catherine.
A man walks past boats beached at the Old Harbour Fishing Village, St Catherine.

Fisherfolk in Old Harbour have expressed optimism about Tuesday’s launch of a first-of-its-kind insurance coverage plan for stakeholders registered with the National Fisheries Authority.

Farmers will also benefit from specially discounted rates for insuring their cars and homes. Annual payments will be as low as $45,000.

Industry interests at the Old Harbour Bay Fishing Beach in St Catherine said many of them have sustained property damage and have had to start over from scratch.

“I have known of cases where persons are now suffering still after losing their boats in peril like storm and high waves,” said Paulette Coley, a veteran fisherwoman.

“There was no insurance coverage, and being poor, they lost everything, so we think it (insurance) was long overdue.”

Coley said further that the replacement cost for infrastructure, particularly for boats and engines, was prohibitive.

“Although fishing is unpredictable and the price fluctuates, the price of boats is high. If you are buying a 28-foot, it’s about $700,000, plus the 40-foot horsepower outboard engine for $600,000. That is expensive, so we need the insurance badly,’’ Coley added.

In his address at the launch, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Floyd Green described the insurance coverage plan as a landmark initiative for artisanal fishers.

“It protects them against a wide array of perils. It protects them both at sea and on land,” said Green.

“It gives them not only greater security, it gives them greater accessibility to the things they need to enhance their business.”

Green pointed out that if fisherfolk insure their vessels, plus cars and homes, the rates will be even lower.

Vice-president of channel management and underwriting at Advantage General Insurance, Ruth Cummings, said that the package provides a safety net against accidental loss or damage to the fishing vessel and accessories by fire, explosion, malicious acts, flood, hurricane, typhoon, earthquake, volcano and other perils while onshore or offshore in Jamaican waters.

Protection is also provided against theft of the vessel or the outboard motor.

Meanwhile, Public Relations Officer Glaston Whyte of the Half Moon Bay Fisher Cooperative in Hellshire, St Catherine, said his members are eager to get on board.

“While we are overjoyed with this announcement, we await the proper starting of the insurance of the 110 members here. We want to see if the insurance is a one-size-fit-for-all members,” Whyte told The Gleaner.

“We have members with large vessels while others have the basic size, therefore, a tiered system would be ideal, but it is a positive move.”

Cummings said that the insurance package will provide a 10 per cent discount for farmers on either their motor-vehicle insurance or home-insurance premium. If both the vehicle and home are insured, a discount of 15 per cent will be applied.

Rasbert Turner and the Jamaica Information Service contributed to this story.