35 fishers get safety at sea training
Thirty-five fishers across Jamaica have benefitted from a safety at sea training programme undertaken by the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) in partnership with the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).
The programme stems from a memorandum of understanding (MOU) established earlier this year between the entities, with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, to train local fishers in navigation and seamanship.
The sessions took place in Montego Bay, where nine fishers were trained; Black River, 11; and Kingston, where 15 fishers benefited from training.
At a graduation ceremony held at the CMU's campus on Palisadoes Road in Kingston on Thursday, the participants were presented with life jackets and communication devices for use at sea.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Franklin Witter, commended the graduates and noted the importance of the training in ensuring their safety at sea.
He said that the fisheries sector is crucial to Jamaica achieving food security and in providing the protein needed in the diet of Jamaicans.
“As the Ministry supports and promotes further growth in the fisheries sector, occupational safety and health are also of paramount importance to us,” he pointed out.
Principal Director of the Marine Branch at the NFA, Stephen Smikle, lamented that “too often, we have reports of fishers losing their lives at sea… sometimes due to mistakes on the part of the [boat] captain and the fishers on board”.
He said that the NFA, as the licensing authority for the fisheries sector, intends to eventually reach all boat captains with the training to ensure that they have a “basic level of competence” before a licence is issued.
For his part, CMU President, Andrew Spencer, pointed out that the training adds “value and credence” to the fisheries industry and helps to position the CMU as a driver of community development.
“We want to be a university that transforms communities in Jamaica, and one of the best ways to do that is to [uplift] our people in industries that enable them to put bread on their families' table. Every time a fisher goes out and doesn't come back, that's a loss to a family,” Spencer said.
Under the MOU, a minimum of 35 fishers are targeted for safety-at-sea training annually over a five-year period, through funding from the agriculture ministry's Production Incentive Programme.
Another MOU has been signed with the University of the West Indies (UWI) to provide training in open-water scuba diving and dive certification, at the institution's Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory, starting in October.
- JIS News
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