Jamaica to register fishermen, boats

Jamaica plans to register all fishermen and their boats to create a database that will help protect its natural resources.

Agriculture Minister Christopher Tufton says the registry will be used to determine how many people depend on fishing for their livelihoods.

“We are going to make it easy for you to register,’ Mr. Tufton said. ‘We are going to visit you on the fishing beaches, we are going to come with the cameras, and work with agencies like the Electoral Office of Jamaica if we have to.’

He insists it won’t be used to boost tax collection as fishermen had feared.

“I know there are some suspicions around recording information. We are not going to give the information to any agency that may compromise your privacy. It is all about trying to determine how many people we have that depend on the resources of the sea to survive and so we can now determine what needs to be done… to be put in place to ensure your comfort,” he explained.

Mr. Tufton on Friday said his ministry may also buy a radio system to help fishermen communicate with one another at sea.

Fishing makes up about 6 percent of Jamaica’s economy, according to the most recent government data.

The island’s north coast is also popular among sport fishermen for mahi mahi, marlin and tarpon, but the government has warned against overfishing.