KINGSTON – April 7, 2017.

Thirty two foreign nationals were last Sunday, March 26, intercepted by the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard (JDF CG) after being caught illegally fishing in Jamaican waters. The incident occurred about 120 miles south of Jamaica’s mainland, in the North West Ridge area, a popular fishing ground for local fishermen close to the Pedro Cays.

According to Major Basil Jarrett, Civil Military Cooperation Officer for the JDF, the Coast Guard was patrolling the area in one of the newly commissioned Offshore Patrol Vessels, HMJS Cornwall, when they detected the foreign vessel by radar. The patrol boat approached the foreign vessel and instructed it to stop. The poachers failed to comply with the order and sped off in order to evade the lawmen. A high-speed Rigged Inflatable Boat (RIB) with a boarding team onboard was then launched from HMJS Cornwall to intercept the fishermen. The soldiers intercepted, stopped and boarded the boat, upon which over 20,000 pounds of fish, a 12-guage shot gun and over 20 ammunition cartridges were found, along with thirty two Dominican Republic nationals.

The men were brought back to the JDF’s Coast Guard’s Headquarters in Port Royal and processed by local immigration, health and police personnel, after it was discovered they did not have the required fishing licenses and were not permitted to work in Jamaica. With an estimated value of approximately $10,000,000 JMD, the seizure is welcome news for local, law abiding fishermen who have to compete with illegal poachers for the seafood market share.

Last Sunday’s find is the result of an increased effort by the JDF Coast Guard to prevent the entrance of contraband to the mainland via maritime routes. HMJS Cornwall is one of two new maritime offshore patrol vessels obtained by the Unit in early 2017, affording it increased maritime capabilities to secure Jamaica’s maritime borders.