Government is moving to tighten the noose on those caught illegally fishing in Grenadian waters by imposing a hefty fine on those engaged in this illegal practice.
A fine of $500, 000.00 was announced by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Roland Bhola while piloting an amendment to the Fisheries Bill 2014 Cap. 108 Section 8 (6) during last week’s sitting of the Lower House of Parliament at the Grenada Trade Center.
In the previous Bill, anyone found in contravention of the foreign fishing license was liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $5000 under the Revised Laws of 2010.
However, the Act, which came into effect in 1986, previously provided for a fine not exceeding $500, 000.00 for persons caught fishing illegally in local waters.
In addressing Parliament, Minister Bhola spoke of the importance of the fishing sector to the local economy.
He said it was reported that the agriculture sector grew by 5% last year and of that between 2.5 to 3% was credited to the fishing sector.
Last year, fish exports netted over $23M, and on the local market it was well over $45M
The senior government minister indicated that the fishing sector provides direct and indirect employment for about 4000 Grenadians.
He pointed out that based on the importance of the industry to Grenada, it needs to be protected and government was taking action.
The Fisheries Minister told the House that illegal and unregulated fishing is a serious issue since it can destroy the island’s fishing industry.
He noted that illegal and unauthorised fishing by foreign vessels can negatively impact the conservation process as they take away unauthorised species and undersize fishes.
Minister Bhola also voiced concerns over the method of fishing used by the foreign fishermen since spear fishing was not allowed in certain parts of Grenadian waters.
Recently, a few Marine Protected Areas were created in Carriacou and Moliniere, St. George’s to protect the reefs that are used as breeding grounds for various species of fish.