Jamaica Observer / KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister of Transport and Mining, Robert Montague says the government is to aggressively pursue the development of Jamaica’s bunkering industry. This, he said, will be done through the facilitation of investment and ensuring that the necessary administrative and regulatory framework are in place. Montague was addressing the gala dinner of the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) Caribbean Conference at the Hyatt Ziva Hotel in Montego Bay recently. Citing a 2012 Commonwealth Secretariat Commissioned study, Montague said Jamaica could benefit from the generation of up to 900 job opportunities and increased economic activity of approximately US$3 billion, if the country grows its share of vessels passing through the Panama Canal and bunkering (refuelling) in Jamaica, to ten per cent. “It therefore goes without saying that any industry, such as bunkering which has the potential for positive economic gains and employment, will be a target for priority action for the Government. We are therefore aggressively pursuing strategies to realise the projected growth levels,” he stated. The study, commissioned on behalf of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ), sought to identify the potential and the required framework, to position Jamaica as a bunkering location in the Caribbean. At the time, Jamaica’s share of vessels passing through the Panama Canal and bunkering in the country was approximately five per cent. “In addition to pointing to the fact that a successful and competitive bunkering hub will have a positive impact on the dynamism of the Jamaican maritime cluster; perhaps of greater interest to this Government, is that since bunkering forms an important eco-system within the wider maritime cluster, it provides great prospects for significant economic impact,” he said. The conference was hosted jointly by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica and IBIA from April 17 to 19.