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Blue Action Jamaica 2023

In June 2023, as a part of the Blue Action Jamaica initiative, a three-day Tabletop Exercise (TTX) took place in Kingston, Jamaica, 30 May - 2 June 2023.

This event, which saw thirty plus attendees each day, was jointly organized by the Jamaica National Fisheries Authority (NFA) and the Jamaica Defence Force Coastguard, with the support of the UNDP’s Blue Resilience project and in conjunction with UNDP Jamaican Multi-country Office and the Blue Justice Initiative. Its purpose was to facilitate knowledge sharing and promote interagency cooperation among  thirteen of the Jamaican ministries and agencies with a role to play in regulating the fisheries sector, particularly those of the recently-established Multi-Agency Mechanism.

During the workshop, which was specifically tailored to address fisheries crime within the Jamaican context, the participating government agencies actively shared their organizational expertise. This collaborative effort led to an enhanced understanding of the distinct roles, powers, and responsibilities of each agency. This shared organisational knowledge and awareness builds upon the work already undertaken by the Multi-Agency Mechanism and further strengthens coordinated Jamaican action to create a sustainable blue economy and prevent fisheries crime. Fisheries crime encompasses a series of illegal activities throughout the fisheries’ value and supply chain. These criminal activities not only harm fish stocks, but also pose a threat to food security and exploit labour within the industry. 

Figure 2. Photograph of Michele Lemmon of the Jamaican Ministry of National Security participating in Blue Action Jamaica.

The increased cooperation and knowledge sharing serves to strengthen both Jamaican and regional inter-agency capacity in dealing with fisheries crime as Jamaica are host to the newly established Blue Justice Caribbean Hub. Through the hub, Jamaica will facilitate inter-agency cooperation regionally, including by disseminating best practices and lessons learned from the tabletop exercise to address fisheries crime as a coordinated region. The secure digital Blue Justice Community platform plays a key facilitating mechanism in this regard, stimulating sharing of information and ideas on addressing fisheries crime, and promoting continued inter-active coordination moving forward. Commitment to the initiative and further cooperation was shared at the Blue Action Jamaica TTX by Hon. Floyd Green, MP of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Mining, who engaged with the participants during the workshop.

Figure 3. From right to left: Dr Gavin Bellamy, CEO, National Fisheries Authority, Jamaica; Dr. Emma Witbooi, Blue Resilience Project Manager, UNDP; Hon. Floyd Green, MP of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Mining, Jamaica; Eve de Coning, Specialist Director, Blue Justice Secretariat, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Norway.

For the participants, the workshop highlighted the key importance of working together and sharing knowledge for agencies to efficiently deal with fisheries crime. Ian Jones, Snr. Director, Compliance, National Fisheries Authority, reflected that “It is critical because it involves the collaboration and cooperation with our sister agencies to share ideas”. This sentiment was echoed by Sharon Haynes of Tax Administration Jamaica, who spoke to the value of knowledge sharing for identifying “how to do business with the other ministries and agencies” and to “see how best [they] can work together and help each other, in making Jamaica a better place.”

Figure 4. Dr Gavin Bellamy, CEO, National Fisheries Authority, Jamaica, addressing the participants of the TTX as the host.

“With the participation of representatives from 15 Jamaican Ministries, Departments and Agencies involved in fisheries law enforcement, the Blue Action Jamaica workshop and TTX demonstrated that with unity and understanding we can combat organized crime in the Fisheries sector. This was one big step in removing silos and developing a holistic solution. The support of UNDP Blue Resilience and the BJI Secretariat contributed to the event’s success” Gavin Bellamy, Chief Executive Officer, National Fisheries Authority, Jamaica.

Figure 5. Alvin Gayle, Brigade Executive Officer and Commander, Jamaica Defence Force.

“Exercise Couched Out, was a significant step in the right direction for the fight against IUUF and transnational organised crime in the fisheries sector for Jamaica. It is the realisation of the efforts to bring together the members of the Multi-Agency Mechanism. This is a first step, and it is envisioned that many other steps will follow as the Jamaica Defence Force continues to partner with the National Fisheries Authority and other government agencies to prevent, combat and eradicate IUUF and transnational organised crime in Jamaica’s fisheries sector” Alvin Gayle, Brigade Executive Officer and Commander, Jamaica Defence Force.

Figure 6. Representatives of 3 different agencies are pictured, from right to left, Sydney Innes, Port Authority, Jamaica; Neidene Robinson, National Fisheries Authority, Jamaica; and Oral Pascoe, Jamaica Constabulary Force.

The workshop facilitated this cooperation and knowledge sharing between agencies through discussion, expert presentations, case examples, group work and inter-active plenary discussion on themes such as the registration of vessels, beneficial ownership, taxation as well as documentation, licenses and permits. Michael Stamp Customs Officer, Jamaica Customs Agency, spoke on the importance of this collaboration and knowledge in identifying “the shortfalls in information [the Jamaica Customs Agency] requires…. to make [their] processes more efficient”. While Diana Drummond Thomas, Petty Officer, Jamaica Defence Force shared her opinion that “knowing what everyone does… is really informative…. so [they] can get a better idea of what to do at sea”. Going forward, the workshop has energized the participating agencies toward targeted joint action to improve regulation of the fisheries sector, with Brandon Stewart, Tax Administration Jamaica, encapsuling the sentiment in his appraisal on the “number of gaps in cooperation between agencies…. [being] an opportunity for further cooperation”. Follow-up joint training activities are planned to maintain momentum.

The event follows on from the 2023 Blue Justice Conference earlier in the year if you missed this event you can catch up here.

Catch up with other developments on the UNDP Blue Resilience Twitter

September 1, 2023