Senator proposes season for parrot fishing instead of ban

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

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THE Government could now consider seasonal fishing for parrot fish instead of a ban.

Government Senator Matthew Samuda, who had previously mooted a closed season and eventual ban on the harvesting of parrot fish during his contribution to the State of the Nation debate in the Upper House in December, told members of the Rotary Club of Trafalgar New Heights in St Andrew last Thursday that he would be taking a proposal to the Senate soon to implement a season instead of a ban.

“For the simple reason that 30 per cent of the fish that we catch in Jamaican waters is parrot fish. There are 18,000 fishermen who depend on that 30 per cent of their income, so it's not as simple as banning,” he said.

“I'd love to, but it's not just the right recommendation,” Samuda said.

He said a working group comprised of seven environment groups, which includes the Jamaica Environment Trust and the Alligator Head Foundation, as well as marine biologists, have agreed to the recommendations.

“The good thing with a season is that we have already seen successes with implementing seasons on lobster and conch, so we already have some learnings there and it can be done and it will give replenishment time and growth time to the stock,” he said, noting that parrot fish are significant to the sustenance of reefs, which are important to the replenishing of sand.

“You go to Hellshire you don't have a beach anymore and that's largely because we have not protected our reefs. And parrot fish eat algae off the reef which allows it breathe, and in eating it they also eat some of the sediment, which, in their digestive system, becomes sand,” Senator Samuda explained.

“So we have lost a lot of sand that we didn't have to lose. Parrot fish is not the only reason why we have coastal erosion, but it's certainly a reason and it's a matter we have to address,” he said.

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