Jamaica is losing hundreds of millions of dollars to Honduras due to a loophole in the lobster licencing system, according to a lobby group for the island's fishermen.
The All Island Fisheries Development Alliance (AIFDA) has started a petition pressing the Jamaican government to stop issuing lobster licenses to boats coming from Honduras.
The AIFDA is advocating that lobster licences be issued on the 1st July, but it must only be to vessels currently in Jamaica.
"Jamaica is currently being ravaged by poachers, which is bad enough, but this loophole allows foreign boats to be registered here in Jamaica gaining access to a lobster licence to fish in the Jamaican waters for lobster, as if they were Jamaican," AIFDA said in the petition.
They take particular issue with boats from Central American country Honduras which have long been engaged in a fishing dispute with Jamaica. Many Hondurans are held each year for illegal fishing in Jamaican waters.
"The issue is that vessels are being registered here on the island, going back to Honduras, and only appearing from Honduras when the season begins. To put it in layman's terms; Honduran vessels are carrying workers at a cheap rate, registering their boats here, and fishing in Jamaican waters when the season commences."
AIFDA says the loophole poses an environmental threat to the waters due to over-fishing along with bringing about huge losses for Jamaica's fishermen and economy, with an estimated $500 million loss per season.
"Whilst Jamaica is trying its best to run a proudly-Jamaican industry, Honduras is coming through the metaphorical back door of the warehouse, casually past security, and leaving with Jamaican stock. When that stock is sold, it is being exported as “Jamaican”, however, 90% of the profits go back to Honduras, leaving Jamaica with nothing but empty waters, empty pockets, and disillusioned fishermen," the lobby group said.
The petition has so far attracted more than 300 signatories.