Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Jamaica's Environment Minister Announces Portland Bight Protected Area

The following message was circulated on 11 June 1999 by Peter Espeut, Executive Director of the Caribbean Coastal Area Management (CCAM) Foundation, Jamaica.

On Friday, June 4, 1999 as a prelude to Jamaica's Environmental Awareness Week, the Honourable Easton Douglas, Jamaica's Minister of the Environment and Housing, formally announced the declaration of Portland Bight as Jamaica's newest Protected Area. He had previously signed the Declaration Order on April 22 -- Earth Day 1999.

Chairman of the ceremony was Franklin McDonald, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA), the government's environmental agency. The ceremony was jointly sponsored by the NRCA and the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (CCAM). It was held within the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA) in the fishing community of Old Harbour Bay, St. Catherine. The PBPA falls within two civil parishes -- St. Catherine and Clarendon. Councillor Maureen Scott of the St. Catherine Parish Council welcomed the attendees to the parish.

Carla Gordon and Frances Blair of the NRCA explained the government's Systems Plan for Parks and Protected Areas in Jamaica. Peter Espeut, Executive Director of CCAM, described the natural and human resources of the area, and outlined the management goals CCAM would seek to achieve when it was delegated the management authority. He pointed out that about 50,000 persons lived within the boundaries of the PBPA, and that many industries were located there. He expressed his confidence that the co-management approach being pursued by CCAM would lead to success in bringing sustainable development and sustainable prosperity to the area.

Minister Douglas then gave a stimulating address where he outlined the government's record in protecting the environment, and committed the government to implementing the systems plan. He stated his confidence in CCAM's ability to manage the area, and promised that a location would be provided for the headquarters of the PBPA. He then signed copies of the Portland Bight Declaration Order in the official Jamaica Gazette, and presented copies to Councillor Maureen Scott representing the St. Catherine Parish Council, Councillor Winston Maragh representing the Clarendon Parish Council, St. Catherine Member of Parliament Jenniffer Edwards, and CCAM Chairman Tarn Peralto.

Following the ceremony was a boat tour of the northern reaches of the PBPA. The first stop was the beautiful Cockpit Salt Marsh on the Clarendon side of the Bight, where a fish (a mullet) conveniently jumped into the Minister's boat. The tour then proceeded to Little Goat Island on the St. Catherine side, where the group had a look at the decommissioned US Naval Air Base (WWII vintage) and the tourism potential of the island. The party then returned to the mainland for refreshments.

Coming events

June 19 - Delegates from all the citizens' associations in the St. Catherine and Clarendon parts of Portland Bight, meet to consider the Management Plan and regulations for the PBPA. Funded by the OAS-ISP.

June 29 - All Portland Bight fishers are invited to a Fisheries Management Symposium to discuss the Management Plan for the PBPA and the draft fisheries regulations drawn up by the Portland Bight Fisheries Management Council (PBFMC) for implementation within the PBPA. Funded from the Pew Fellowship to Peter Espeut, 1996 Pew Fellow.

Note to readers

Any funding ideas? After we are delegated the management responsibility we will need to fund our Management Plan (available on request): about US$3 million for initial setup capital expenditure and about US$1 million for annual recurrent expenditure when we get into top gear.

Peter A. Espeut,
Executive Director,
Caribbean Coastal Area Management (CCAM) Foundation,
7 Lloyds Close,
Kingston 8
Fax: (876) 978-7641

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