Control your fishermen, Shaw and Dom Rep

Control your fishermen, Shaw and Dom Rep

Observer staff reporter

Saturday, March 09, 2019

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HAGUE, Trelawny – Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Audrey Shaw has appealed to his counterparts in Honduras and the Dominican Republic to warn fishermen from their countries who are poaching in Jamaican waters to desist from the illegal practice.

“I really want to use the opportunity in this interview to preach to my colleague ministers in the Dominican Republic and Honduras and ask them to please tell their fisherfolks to stay away from Jamaican waters. Fish in your waters, leave ours alone, leave our conch alone! And that’s a very strong message that I am not only sending by this medium, but I intend to write to those ministers about it as well,” Shaw said this week.

The minister noted that illegal poaching and overfishing by locals and foreigners have contributed to the depletion of the local sea food stock, including conch.

“… Last week two vessels from the Dominican Republic were held out somewhere in the Petro Banks area doing illegal fishing. They (Coast Guard) have those vessels right now,” said Shaw.

The dwindling conch stock, he said, has resulted in the imposition of an initial one-year ban on harvesting of conch, which will run from March 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020, to give the depleted population time to replenish itself.

But he noted that the ban could extend beyond that period if the conch population is not adequately increased.

“In the first instance it’s been considered for one year with the possibility, that if we don’t see enough revival, then we might have to extend into two years. But as of now it is a one-year ban,” he remarked.

“We have had to take the decision to ban conch fishing this year because a survey carried out has been found [the population] to be severely depleted; if we don’t allow for the conch to be revived, then eventually we will have a total extinction of conch from our near shores.”

Shaw commended the marine police for their efforts which led to the seizure of the two foreign vessels in the local waters last week.

He added that more emphasis is being placed on the management of the security in the local waters.

“We are putting in place a stronger method of surveillance. We now have more equipment than we used to have and additional equipment can assist in that process, but we really are concentrating heavily on the interdiction and the investigation. It cannot be that those who remain legal are following the rules and there are others who are renegades out there,” Shaw told members of the media after delivering the keynote address at the 64th Hague Agricultural Show, held at the Hague Agricultural Show Ground in Trelawny on Ash Wednesday.

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