In light of the depletion of Jamaica’s fish stock, Prime Minister Andrew Holness is urging citizens to re-think their consumption of parrot fish.
Speaking at the launch of the southern plains agricultural development project yesterday, Mr. Holness emphasized the importance of the parrot fish to the ecosystem and the country’s marine health.
He noted that he has made a personal decision to not consume parrot fish, while urging stakeholders to be more enlightened in how they manage the country’s fishing resources.
Meanwhile, one local marine scientist, while agreeing with the Prime Minister on the issue of over-fishing, is unconvinced that not consuming parrot fish is a viable option for the protection of Jamaica’s reefs.
Manager of the Oracabessa Bay fish sanctuary, I-nilek Wilmot, notes that in every eco-system, each specie has a particular role to play.
He explains that parrot fish, which are herbivores, consume algae, thus helping to reduce the level on the reef, giving them a greater chance of survival.
Coral reefs provide habitats for fish.
Mr. Wilmot notes that with Jamaica’s fisheries significantly reduced, large fish such as barracudas, groupers and snappers are depleted, leaving smaller herbivores such as parrot fish as the main catch.
This makes it difficult for fishermen to avoid catching them.
Mr. Wilmot further notes that the focus on a single fish specie is not the way to go to address the issue of Jamaica’s fisheries resources.
He says conservation groups and fish sanctuaries will have to collaborate with the government to come up with effective solutions.