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Fish sanctuaries get lifeline

Published:Saturday | January 31, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer

THE DECISION by Government to continue its monthly subventions, to help in management of fish sanctuaries, has been welcomed by two officials in charge of four of the country's 14 sanctuaries.

"It continues ... our money is not inexhaustible but, having committed, there is no decision to stop the funding. There were concerns about how sustainable it is to keep funding them, because money is not inexhaustible, but we have made a commitment to keep doing it," Donovan Stanberry, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, told The Gleaner.

"There were concerns about whether or not we can keep doing it, but the minister has made it clear that maintaining them is a priority, so that will continue," he added.

"That's great news," was the response from Jonathon Gosse, executive director, Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary, St Mary, on Monday, given that the agriculture ministry had advised last year of intention to discontinue funding the sanctuaries past end of this financial year.

Excited and pleased

Ingrid Parchment, executive director of the Caribbean Coastal Area Management (C-CAM) Foundation, which manages three fish sanctuaries in the Portland Bight Protected Area, was excited on hearing the good news.

"I am pleased that they decided not to renege on their commitment, and have recognised the importance of the sanctuaries to fishing, people's livelihood and economy," she said.

Concerned that operations would have to be significantly scaled down in the cessation of subvention, with some likely to be closed, late last year a group from the sanctuaries network had met with Agriculture Minister Derrick Kellier, and junior minister Luther Buchanan, to impress on them the far-reaching socio-economic impact of the fish sanctuaries. This was after they had been officially advised of the decision to pull the plug on government funding.