On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, The Jamaica Observer carried a story headlined “PM bats for Environment“.
(Quotes by PM Portia Simpson Miller appear in blue)
“A healthy seabed is necessary and especially important for island states such as ours in the Caribbean which depend on the quality of the natural environment and derive much of their economic growth from the use of natural resources…”
“Roger Clarke speaks of “food security” and says, rightly, that we have to produce a larger proportion of the food that we consume instead of importing it, using foreign exchange, which we are not earning. Part of that ‘production’ is our fisheries, which have seen extensive overfishing and precipitous decline of the catch…
“Seagrass beds, mangrove roots, gravel beds and shallow water allow the baby fish, shrimp, etc. to hide and have a moderate chance of avoiding being eaten by adult snappers, jacks, tarpon, grunts, snook, and many others…
“Now, what is to be the extent, and depth, of the proposed dredging of the Portland Bight Protected Area? The Jamaica Environment Trust and the others concerned about it don’t seem to know. Want to bet it would allow Chinamax-class ships with a requirement of about 27.5m (90ft) depth as I would deduce?”
- Howard Chin, “Dredge Elsewhere! Environmental Damage To Portland Bight Outweighs Economic Benefits” (Jamaica Gleaner, September 8, 2013)
“In this the International Year of Small Island Developing States, and in anticipation of the Third International Conference to be held in Samoa in September, it is critical that the governance of the oceans and environmental protection be strengthened…”
“Environmentalists are up in arms over the Government’s decision to defer Jamaica’s application to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the Portland Bight Protected Area to be declared a biosphere reserve.
This follows confirmation Friday that the process which had been on track for Jamaica to become only the second country in the English-speaking Caribbean, after St Kitts, to establish a biosphere reserve was derailed by the State, for no good reason according to a number of persons intimately involved with the tedious eight to 10-year application process.
The area takes in land earmarked to be co-opted as part of the port facility if Government goes ahead with plans to use the Goat Islands as part of the proposed logistics hub the Chinese Government is seeking to build in Jamaica…
“‘I am really quite disappointed that after all these years of putting in all of this effort; having all of the stakeholders at different levels agreeing that this was a good idea, that the Government just kind of went behind people’s back,’ the frustrated environmentalist told The Gleaner.”
- “Bight Betrayal – Environmentalists Angered As Gov’t Pulls Back On Biosphere Recognition For Portland Protected Area” (Jamaica Gleaner – January 6, 2014)
“From aqua to deep azure, the ocean’s blues hold secrets and rich resources fathoms deep. It has fallen to mankind to protect, preserve and regulate this sacred resource. This is a phenomenal responsibility — one we in Jamaica take seriously,”
“The much-talked about Portland Bight marked its 15th anniversary as a declared protected area yesterday, observed globally as Earth Day.
But this could be its last year with protected status, given Government’s intention to transform the largely undisturbed Goat Islands into a large industrial site to facilitate trans-shipment. Other areas within Portland Bight are also earmarked for the logistics hub project.
That the country’s largest protected area could cease to exist has not escaped conservationists the world over and several organisations, including the Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Iguana Foundation, and the World Wildlife Fund, have petitioned the Government to relocate the site.
On the home front, organisations such as Coastal Area Management Foundation and Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) have been at the forefront of the lobby.
In the latest of those moves, JET announced yesterday that it has applied to the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the Certificate of Exemption issued by the Minister of Finance and Planning effectively barring the NGO from accessing requested information on the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Jamaica and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), the Chinese contractor which will be building the planned Goat Islands port.”
- “Portland Bight is 15!” (Jamaica Observer – Wednesday, April 23, 2014)