The National Fisheries Authority (NFA) has issued a fish habitat conservation order to West Indies Alumina Co (Windalco), a corporation involved in producing bauxite and alumina. This order pertains to the Rio Cobre watershed located in St Catherine. The order went into force on October 1 and will continue until the authority is satisfied that Windalco's activities pose no additional dangers to fish habitat.
The directive mandates that the company undertake all requisite measures to proactively avert any subsequent discharge of harmful substances into the watershed. Additionally, it necessitates the prompt notification of the relevant authority within a 24-hour in the event of any such discharge. Furthermore, the company must expeditiously rectify any pollution incidents and restore the fish habitat to an acceptable state. Lastly, the company must submit reports stipulated by the National Fisheries Act (NFA).
According to NFA Chief Executive Officer Dr Gavin Bellamy, the injunction imposes limitations on Windalco to safeguard the safety of the river's natural system and its surroundings for fish and other living beings. Following the granting of special permission on May 19, UC Rusal, the proprietors of Windalco restocked the Rio Cobre watershed with tilapia seed stock (fry and fingerlings) at numerous places.
On June 30, the first 8,000 tilapia seed stock was restocked - 4,000 at Flat Bridge and another 4,000 at Rio Pedro - with the added black perch, red tilapia, and rocky mountain kinds. Following that effort, an environmental study and subsequent monitoring found other watershed places where more seed stock might be introduced. An extra permit covering the period from October 1 to November 30 was issued to enable the smooth completion of the restocking effort.
On October 2, 2023, 2,000 fingerlings were introduced at the Vanity Fair Bridge, while another 1,000 fingerlings were released at a specific site in Cove, situated inside the Linstead region. On October 31, a supplementary quantity of 10,000 juvenile fish was discharged subsequently. A cumulative quantity of 20,000 seed stock units was issued for both licences. To comply with the stipulations of the permit, Windalco is now obligated to produce a conclusive environmental assessment report.