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Agriculture and Fisheries Minister of Jamaica, Pearnel Charles Jr., announced last Tuesday a package of incentives for fish farmers that will make it easier for them to access the industry. The details of this plan were reported by the national newspaper Jamaica Observer.

As the Jamaica Observer pointed out, fishing is the livelihood of around 200,000 Jamaicans and contributes with figures of more than 10 billion in GDP while earning an export income of over USD 14 million. For this reason, Charles Jr. explained that an investment in the field was necessary to boost Jamaica’s blue economy as well as profitability.

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His ambitious plan would give Jamaicans access to 15,000 fry per acre, with no cost for the first 50 acres of new fish ponds established this year.

“This is no easy task, but through cooperation with our international partners, the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme], and the Blue Justice Initiative, we will achieve a reduction in incidents of interceptions towards the elimination of IUU fishing in Jamaica,” Charles Jr stated.

The project aims to promote aquaculture to reduce overfishing and promote different fishing methods than the traditional Jamaican ones. Both are ambitious plans, but they have been discussed extensively.

Aquaculture and mariculture: reducing ocean pressure

The Minister explained to the Jamaica Observer that $13.2 million has been invested in a quarantine facility to allow the importation of shrimp and tilapia broodstock. “We have $450 million worth of investment now being spent for the creation of the Climate Smart Recirculating Aquaculture System hatchery, with a potential to produce five million fry by 2025 and increase fish production up to 3,400 metric tonnes,” Charles Jr stated.

Furthermore, it is not only focusing on the aquaculture area but also wants to promote mariculture. For this purpose, it will continue with the renovation of the Bowden facilities in St. Thomas, with which it expects to increase the production of oysters and marine moss.

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Fishing is no exception: pelagic fishing

Moreover, knowledge enables development, so under this philosophy, fishing plans have also been designed. Thus, in collaboration with the Caribbean Maritime University and the University of the West Indies, training will be provided on the sea. Topics such as the handling of small boats, safety at sea, and safe diving practices. The objective: to exploit pelagic fishery using fish aggregating devices and longlines.

“We are also in the process of purchasing a 45ft vessel to allow for additional training with this initiative,” Charles Jr said.

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