A new fisheries regulation to set limits on the size and weight of fish catches is being drafted, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey, revealed Friday.
The regulation is necessary to balance productivity and sustainability in the fishing industry, he said.
The limits come as marine biologists and fisheries experts note increasing catches of juvenile fish that are attracted to floating beds of Sargassum seaweed. The experts warn that harvesting of juveniles disrupts the food chain and life cycle of several species of fish and leads to scarcity.
“It is going to require in some cases that we change the way we fish,” said Humphrey. “It is going to require in some cases that we put limits on to what fish can be caught, the weight and so on, the size. These are the conversations that we are having.
“But I also feel as we look at the legislation because we have now a fifth area; to look at sustainability. I believe that I’m the first minister with the responsibility so heavily upon my shoulder where I have to ensure people can catch more fish, but also to make sure that we have fish for people into the future so that we have a balance between production on the one hand but also in terms of preservation.
“So we must preserve that which we have and so we must do these things in a very sustainable way. It is going to require conversation.”
Humphrey made the comments at the reopening of the Tent Bay Fishing Complex in St Joseph. The complex was renovated at a cost of just under $200,000 and took four weeks to complete.
He said the upgrade at Tent Bay was further evidence that his ministry is following through on its promise to improve the infrastructure for fisherfolk and the industry.
Humphrey said since assuming office three years ago improvements had been made to almost all of the fishing complexes.
The fisheries minister said: “We’ve set out to do most of the markets and I’m pleased to tell you that we have now done some work at Oistins, Speightstown, Bridgetown. We’re about to do Weston, we’re about to open Paynes Bay, Pile Bay, of course, Tent Bay and lastly Consett Bay should be starting very soon as well, which would bring us to all of the fish markets under the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, leaving so far for me to conclude the landing site in St Lucy and the landing site in St Peter and hopefully the landing site at Martin’s Bay.
“When we’ve done those things in the next few years, because we couldn’t do all one time, but certainly we’ve done all the markets, then we would have given attention to all of the major markets and landing sites in the Ministry of Maritime Affairs.”
Work is also being done on jetties at Oistins and Bridgetown, he added.
He disclosed that $1.3 million had been budgeted for a haul out facility to be put in place at Consett Bay.
But Humphrey said he is not satisfied markets and their environs are being properly cleaned. One of his main grouses was derelict boats that continued to be an eyesore.
The minister gave an assurance he would continue to work closely with fisherfolk to ensure their grievances were heard and issues addressed.
Attorney General and Member of Parliament for St Joseph, Dale Marshall, said he was pleased with the refurbishment and hoped that one day Tent Bay would rival Oistins as an entertainment spot.
Marshall said: “A lot of people leave St Joseph and go up to Oistins for fish on a Friday night and a Saturday night and I look forward to the day when at this small location, when we are able to rival what is happening in Oistins and invite people to come to Tent Bay to experience not just the magnificent breezes and the wonderful views but experience cooking of seafood like no other.” (RB)