February 2, 2015
The Fishing Industry will come under the spotlight as the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and partners underscore the importance of safeguarding the multi-million dollar fishing industry during World Wetlands Day week.
Under the local sub-theme, "Special Fishery Conservation Areas; saving wetlands, saving fisheries", the Agency and the National Ramsar Committee, which consists of various government and non- government stakeholders, will spearhead a series of activities, to sensitize the public about the importance of wetlands and the role of individuals in protecting these unique ecosystems.
Dionne Rose, Public Education and Corporate Communication Manager at NEPA said the activities include an exposition and boat tours at the Palisadoes-Port Royal mangroves; mangrove replanting in the Montego Bay Marine Park; and wetlands plant life displays at Carib 5 and Parish Libraries in Kingston and St. Andrew and St. Catherine.
Rose noted that the focal point for this year's activities will be in Salt River, Clarendon. "The hub of the activities will be at the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation's Field Station, where students from Bustamante High School in Clarendon will face off against Bridgeport High School out of St. Catherine in a Debate Competition. The two teams will debate the moot: "Be it resolved that the management of Special Fishery Conservation Areas should be handled by Fishermen."," she informed.
Ainsley Henry, Director of Applications Management at NEPA / Focal Point for the Ramsar Convention in Jamaica said selecting young people as the target audience for World Wetlands Day 2015 was a strategic move.
"These young people are possibly future fisherfolk and who through good education and knowledge may help to shape Jamaica's fishing industry. Through these activities we hope to open their eyes to not just the challenges but to the possibilities that abound within the sector," Henry said.
Wetlands are areas of land that are permanently or seasonally saturated with water. Natural wetlands include mangrove forests and coral reefs which are sanctuaries for fish and provide habitats for young aquatic species.
There are also manmade wetlands, such as fish ponds, which are used in the production of freshwater fish such as Tilapia, which is a popular source of protein in Jamaica.