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Samuda: Full ban on consumption of parrot fish needed

Published:Saturday | December 1, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Government Senator Matthew Samuda during his presentation in the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate last Friday.

Government Senator Matthew Samuda has called for the immediate introduction of a series of steps culminating with a ban on the consumption of parrot fish in Jamaica.

"We should explore a temporary closure of the parrot fish fishery by way of the implementation of a (close) season. It is at minimum required, to allow for the detailed analysis of the problem and carefully crafted implementation plans to ensure our fisherfolk are not put under great financial stress," said Samuda during his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate last Friday

"Mr President, an eventual ban of the consumption of parrot fish is required. The science on the matter is clear. Sustainability requires it," added Samuda.

He said he has had discussions with environmental groups and many environmental professionals who have put forward a proposal on how the country can better manage its fisheries sector.

"I thought it would be good for a cohesive approach, or a cohesive statement of support of some actions to be taken as it looks at reforming the issue of how we manage our fisheries and the way we think.

"It is my view that a committee of Parliament should consider the recommendations made by this unified group," added Samuda, as he pointed to the proposals from the environmentalists.


Healthy coral reefs


The letter, signed by seven environmental groups, which Samuda shared with his colleagues in the Senate, noted that the parrot fish is important for maintaining healthy coral reefs and beaches.

"Parrot fish are herbivores which feed on the marine plants and algae that live on coral reefs. When we take out too many of the fish that keep the algae under control (like parrot fish), the living coral reef gets choked and smothered."

They noted that the parrot fish also produce sand, and when they clean the reefs of algae, they also chip away at the calcium carbonate skeleton of the coral reef, grinding it up in their stomachs, and excrete sand.

"Although managing parrot fish is not a panacea for protecting Jamaica's coral reefs and beaches, which are degraded by other factors as well ... regulating their catch is an important step towards sustaining the health of reefs and providing high-quality habitat for reef fisheries," said the groups.