Speaking in his Sectoral Presentation entitled A New Deal for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ferguson said the passage of the Fisheries Bill 2018 which is now being debated in the Lower House of Parliament, will establish a National Fisheries Authority which would offer greater accountability, transparency and protection for fisher folk and increase their capacity to earn.
He said the Bill has taken 17 years in gestation but it will pave the way to provide for the efficient and effective management and sustainable development of fisheries, aquaculture and other related activities in accordance with internationally recognized norms and standards. This Bill when passed will repeal the Fishing Industry Act 1975.
“There are about 18,000 licensed fisher folk and approximately 186 fishing beaches including the National Fisheries Authority. This industry impacts all the communities on the coastal plain and inland in some parishes and is important to thousands of our citizens,” Dr. Ferguson said.
He is also calling on the government to put in place: a concession on fuel for fisher folk; Group Life Insurance which is affordable and tied to their licensing renewal each year. He said this facility should also be subsidized by the Government. The Shadow Minister is also calling for a Government contributory disaster preparedness fund for fisher folk and the fixing of the Pedro Cay which has eluded both Administrations.
“This Cay is a logistical nightmare – no water, poor sanitation, weak security, poor housing and commercial buildings and no wharf,” Dr. Ferguson highlighted.
The fisheries industry in Jamaica is a multi-million US Dollar Industry, with the World Bank’s estimates that the annual value of the Caribbean Sea is at US$400 million and further predicts that the entire Sea Economy could be generating US$3 trillion annually.
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