JAMAICA - Fish production in Jamaica is on the rebound after experiencing years of decline.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, noted that 10 years ago, Jamaica reached the pinnacle of fish production, with yields at approximately 7,000 metric tonnes of tilapia in 2007.
Since then, he said, production has declined, largely due to a loss in competitiveness on the world market, the worldwide recession in 2007 and increasing energy and feed costs.
“Today, aquaculture production hovers around approximately 600 metric tonnes per annum. That’s a far cry from the 7,000 tonnes in 2007,” he lamented.
Minister Hutchinson was addressing the launch of Basa freshwater fish production by Algix Jamaica Limited at the entity’s premises in Barton Isle, St. Elizabeth, on Friday (January 20).
He commended the investment by Algix Jamaica in tilapia and Basa production, noting that the move is in keeping with measures to reduce fish imports.
Minister Hutchinson said Jamaica has one of the highest levels of fish consumption per capita in the Americas with imports two to three times the amount of fish consumed.
In 2014, approximately 28,000 metric tonnes of fish valued at roughly US$110 million were imported, while local fish production, including aquaculture was approximately13,000 metric tonnes.
“It is within this context that I wish to commend Algix Jamaica on achieving this significant milestone in their operations,” Minister Hutchinson said.
He noted that the production of the Basa variety of freshwater fish is adding value to the country’s fish stock and the Government will play its part in encouraging more farmers to enter the industry.
“The Government of Jamaica recognises the important role that aquaculture plays with respect to food and nutritional security and is committed to implementing deliberate strategies that will lead to increased engagement of our farmers, increased aquaculture production and a reduction of our food import bill,” he added.
Algix fish farm employs some 100 persons from the Barton, Elim and Newton on a 338-acre property that contains 98 fish ponds.
The company is aiming to produce 100 tonnes of the Basa per month for the export and local markets while ramping up its tilapia production.
TheFishSite News Desk