By Latonya Linton
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The government of Jamaica has allocated $120 million in production incentives for fishers and fish farmers, minister of agriculture and fisheries, Floyd Green, disclosed during Tuesday’s (November 3) sitting of the House of Representatives at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
It is estimated that the fisheries sector could lose up to US$23.1 million during 2020, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Green said that approximately 4,740 licensed fishers across 137 fishing communities will benefit from grants in the form of vouchers for a total value of $67 million.
“Each fisher will be provided a voucher valued at $15,000 to be used to purchase fish mesh wire or equivalent fishing gear,” he indicated.
Approximately $30 million of the grant will be distributed through members of parliament (MP) to fishing communities in their constituencies. Each MP will be allocated between a minimum of $510,000 up to a maximum of $1.5 million, depending on the number of registered fishers in the constituency.
Minister Green said the vouchers will allow fishers to redeem fishing gear or material only from participating entities and are, therefore, not redeemable for cash. The other $37 million will be distributed through the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) under the Fisheries Incentive Programme, which will similarly distribute vouchers valuing $15,000 to registered fish farmers, through the NFA offices islandwide.
The minister also informed that approximately 260 fishers from St Catherine and St Mary fishing beaches, who were subject to lockdowns in April and May, respectively, and were unable to go to sea, will receive grants in the form of vouchers with a total value of $8 million.
“This is to allow them to recoup the loss that they suffered by damage to their fishing equipment that were at sea during the period and they were unable to attend to. These include primarily trap fishermen and some net and line fishers,” Green told the House.
Fish farmers in the aquaculture production areas, who had challenges in procuring feed and fish fingerlings, will receive grants in the form of vouchers with a total value of $20 million.
“Approximately 72 farmers will benefit from this,” Green said.
Also, the ornamental fish-producing subsector will receive just over $1 million to facilitate the provision of brine shrimp as feed to breeders as well as fish feed and support for infrastructure development.
Minister Green said that the government is in the process of procuring cold-storage containers to be placed on strategic fishing beaches islandwide to enhance value chain support.
“We have earmarked 20 million for this programme,” he informed.
Meanwhile, he noted that the ministry, through the NFA, continues to increase the adoption of climate-resilient practices among targeted fishing and fish-farming communities, under the US$5-million Promoting Community-based Climate Resilience in the Fisheries Sector project, funded by the World Bank.
He said under a project, a new fully equipped enforcement vessel valued at US$168,000 was recently commissioned, which will allow the NFA to provide greater support to stakeholders to monitor fisheries resources and strengthen the NFA’s enforcement efforts.
In addition, a 15-seater passenger bus valuing US$51,000; a sport utility vehicle, valuing US$49,000; and a super duty pickup truck, valuing US$119,000, were provided to bolster outreach, extension and support services.