The clusters of brightly painted fishing canoes along Jamaica’s beaches attest to the central role of fishing in this Caribbean nation. They speak to the livelihoods of the more than 40 000 fishers on the island who use the hundreds of fishing beaches dotted along the coastline.

These are the same types of vessels deployed in the smuggling of narcotics and arms, primarily pistols and revolvers, between Jamaica and neighbouring Haiti, as well as Central and South America.

Location of Rocky Point and the Pedro Bank fishing zone

Small fishing boats leave the Jamaican coast, carrying marijuana on a round trip to Haiti, where the marijuana is exchanged illegally for guns; the guns return to Jamaica in the fishing vessels. This is dubbed the ‘drugs-for-guns’ trade; intelligence indicates that this trade ‘model’ has added a new flow – namely the bartering of marijuana for cocaine. The drugs-for-guns trade is well documented and recognized. The cocaine model of the trade is less well documented but officially recognized.

Criminality and resilience: Rocky Point, Jamaica

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Emma Witbooi

Emma Witbooi has a doctorate in marine and environmental law from University College London, and has published and presented widely in the field of fisheries crime. She is a research associate at the Nelson Mandela University, South Africa, and consults for the UNODC and UNDP. She is the lead author of the Blue Paper 16 Organized Crime in the Fisheries Sector for the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy and a director of the independent fisheries crime research network PescaDOLUS.

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