Jamaica’s fisheries sector is set to benefit from some US$400,000 ($36 million) in grant funding and technical support under the United Kingdom-based Department for International Development (DFID)-funded Caribbean Fish Sanctuary Partnership Initiative (C-FISH).
The initiative is a four year £2.1 million ($302 million) project, which will support the operations of fish sanctuaries in Jamaica, Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Caribbean Climate Change Centre (CCCC) will spearhead the project’s implementation across the region.
Grant agreements for provisions to local stakeholders were signed during a ceremony to launch the Jamaica leg of C-FISH at the Bluefield’s Bay Fishermen’s Friendly Society headquarters, in Belmont, Westmoreland, on Friday November 9.
Beneficiary stakeholders will include: the Bluefields Bay Fishermen’s Friendly Society for the fish sanctuary in that area; Breds Treasure Beach Foundation in St Elizabeth, for the Galleon Beach fish sanctuary; the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation for the Salt Bay, Galleon Bay, Boscobel and Three Bays fish sanctuaries in St. Elizabeth, Clarendon, and St Mary; and the Oracabessa Foundation for the Oracabessa fish sanctuary, also in St Mary.
Addressing the ceremony, Project Director for the grant implementing agency, CARIBSAVE Partnership, Dr Owen Day, explained that Jamaica was selected as the main beneficiary of the C-FISH project for several reasons.
These, he said, include: the government’s commitment, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and its Fisheries Division, to establishing a network of 14 fish sanctuaries; the dedication of community based organisations (CBOs) in managing the sanctuaries; the role of local scientists and the University of the West Indies (UWI) in ensuring that a network of sanctuaries was designed to yield optimal ecological benefits; and increased private sector involvement in and support of the sanctuaries.
“So the government of Jamaica should really be praised for this enlightened participatory approach to natural resource management. The world is waking up to the need to protect our environment, and improve the management of our natural resources. This greater awareness is creating new opportunities for building partnerships between communities, governments, scientists, and businesses,” he stated.
British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Howard Drake, in his remarks, said his country was delighted to be involved in the C-FISH project, while underscoring its importance in sustaining the region’s fisheries industry.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Roger Clarke, in his remarks, welcomed the initiative and expressed gratitude for the British Government’s for their intervention in assisting the fisheries sector.
Noting some of the challenges which the sector currently experiences, Mr Clarke said these include: unregulated fishing and the destruction of habitats; degradation of the marine ecosystem from the effects of pollution and global warming; and the onslaught of natural disasters such as hurricanes.
“(Being) mindful of these varying challenges, we have, through the work of the Fisheries Division, put a number of programs in place to support and safeguard the sector,” he informed.
These, he pointed out, include designation of several of the eight proposed agro parks to be developed in six parishes at a cost of some US$8 million (approximately $720 million) over the next three years, with the requisite infrastructure “to ensure sustainable fish production through aquaculture development”.