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14 Jan 2014 - Over $28M Allocated to Improve Sanitation and Management of Pedro Cays

Government has allocated more than $28 million to address waste management, and to beef up fisheries monitoring and enforcement on the Northeast and Middle Cays of the Pedro Banks.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, who made the disclosure on Thursday, January 9, informed that the financing was provided through the Fisheries Management and Development Fund, as well as the Fisheries Division.

He was addressing a workshop to discuss the findings of the ‘2013 Socio-economic Survey and Carrying Capacity Study of the Northeast and Middle Cays, Pedro Banks’ at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

The study was commissioned by the Ministry and carried out by a team of researchers from the UWI during 2013.

Mr. Clarke said the findings of the research, along with others that were conducted before, such as work done by environmentalist, Peter Espeut, will inform the development of a comprehensive management plan for the Northeast and Middle Cays.

The results and recommendations generated from the study, he noted, will advance Government’s efforts to achieve true sustainable use of the area.

The Government, over the last year, has allocated funds to address poor sanitary and environmental conditions at Pedro Cays and has also intensified enforcement activities, to ensure that only people in possession of fishing licences are allowed to remain on the Cays.

Mr. Clarke said that there is still much work to be done to bring the management of the cays to an acceptable level, and remove the solid waste from the area.

In highlighting findings from the socio-economic survey and desk study, Consultant from the UWI’s Department of Geography and Geology, Dr. Kevon Rhiney, informed that at the time of the survey there were some 205 people living in the area for as much as nine months out of the year.

He, however, pointed out that based on anecdotal evidence; this number could be as much as 300 to 400 at certain periods, especially during peak seasons.

He informed that the study found that waste disposal; sanitation, particularly as it relates to access to toilet infrastructure; and the availability of clean drinking water are major challenges on the cays.

“The problem of solid waste management gets even worse during the peak conch and lobster seasons, because what you find is that during those seasons you get more fishers going on the cays and so you get a greater generation of solid waste,” he pointed out.

Dr. Rhiney informed that based on the findings, it was recommended that there needed to be stricter control in terms of the number of fishers that reside and operate from the cays as well as the provision of adequate sanitary facilities.

It was also suggested that a sustainable and effective governance and settlement structure is put in place to guide the way in which the resources on the cays are used.

The Northeast and Middle Cays of the Pedro Cays are often used by local fishers as a base for their fishing operations on the Pedro Bank.

The location is widely regarded as Jamaica’s most productive fishing area, from which the vast majority of the country’s most valuable fishery export products, such as spiny lobsters and queen conch, are harvested.

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