By Kate WojcickiThe Caribbean nation of Jamaica has become a world leader in its efforts to tackle the issue of illegal fishing.
But now the government is facing serious questions over the extent of its efforts, after the country’s Environment Minister accused some fishermen of destroying coral reefs and killing fish.
The issue is being highlighted as the government prepares for an international conference on fishing in Jamaica next month, in which experts will be discussing ways to protect marine life.
The Environment Minister said that some fishermen have planted illegal “bait nets” along the shorelines, killing or injuring sea turtles and sharks.
“They’re damaging the marine life and damaging the reefs,” he told reporters in the capital Kingston on Monday.
“It is unacceptable for these people to destroy coral reefs, killing fish, and destroy coral reef fish in the process.”
Jamaica’s fishing industry employs some 5.5 million people and contributes $100 million to the countrys economy.
But since 2009, when President Jacob Juma became Jamaica’s first African president, the country has seen a sharp increase in illegal fishing, especially in the eastern regions of the country.
Jamaican officials say that illegal fishing is not an issue unique to Jamaica, and that fishermen often go to the Maldives, where they catch more fish.
But in recent years, they have been accused of destroying reefs and causing environmental damage in some areas of the world.
The countrys fisheries minister, who is also minister of environment, has accused some fisherman of destroying marine life, causing environmental harm, and damaging reefs.
He said some fishermen in the southern island of Tongo Tongo are destroying coral reef and killing and harming fish.
The Environment Ministry is conducting an investigation into the matter.JAMAICA HAS BEEN FORCED TO FARM FOR A DECADE”We are very concerned about the situation and we are also aware of some fishermen who are destroying reefs,” Mr Juma said.
“The government will take all necessary measures to protect fish and reefs.”
Mr Juma has vowed to ensure that the fishing industry continues to flourish and that Jamaica is a global leader in tackling illegal fishing by 2030.
In April, Jamaica enacted a law to make it illegal to illegally fish and harvest marine resources in the country, but it has not yet been implemented.