My post today is a cause that has captured my attention so I have chosen to lend my small voice to bring awareness to something that may be potentially harmful to the beautiful island that I care about.
Recently there has been a lot of talk in the media about Goat Island in Jamaica and the government’s plan to build a huge transhipment port which will be funded by the government of China. At the moment it is just a consideration but one that if it materializes could have a devastating effect on Jamaica’s environment , mangroves , plant and marine life.
What are the Goat Islands?
The Goat Islands consist of Little Goat Island and Great Goat Islands which are cays located about a mile of the coast of Old Harbour Bay in St. Catherine, Jamaica. They are a part of the Portland Bight Protected Area , the largest protected area on the island that houses various fish sanctuaries and nurseries , mangroves and over 70 endangered species of animals and plants. It is also the last remaining habitat of the almost extinct Jamaican Iguana .
Why is it Important to help to save the Goat Islands?
Besides the irreparable damage to the ecosystem , building a port on the Goat Islands would disrupt the livelihood of many locals who work in the fishing industry. More than 30% of Jamaica’s fish supply comes from this area. Jamaica’s already shaky economy cannot withstand the impact of such a development neither can our environment. Whilst the port may generate money after being constructed majority of the jobs during the construction will be going to skilled Chinese workers on top of the fact that the people who fish on the islands would no longer be able to do so. The plant and marine life would also disappear when their peaceful environment is disturbed.
Another disadvantage of coastal development projects like these is the damage to coral reefs. Reefs create natural barriers that help to soften the impact of waves and storms. Destroying them will increase our vulnerability to natural disasters leaving more people homeless and displaced after major storms or even during excessive rainy conditions.
How Can You Help ?
There is power in numbers . Environmentalists ,concerned Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica have been lobbying for the current administration to leave the area alone. Please sign the online petition to raise awareness about the cause and help keep the area protected. You do not have to be Jamaican to support this important cause and help keep the island’s government accountable. A port of this nature my reap future benefits to the country but at a cost that no amount of money will be able to compensate for. Assuming that the project will be funded by a loan from China , it will take decades before Jamaica will be able to repay that debt and reap any real monetary rewards from it . Therefore,who really benefits?
Visiting the Goat Islands
Because the area is protected , a landing permit is required from the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) to visit Goat Island, however the Jamaica Environment Trust is organizing a visit around the area. They are planning a flotilla of 20 boats to depart from Old Harbour Bay at 7am , September 14, 2013.
If you will be on the island at that time it is a good opportunity to view the area and become enlightened on what is at risk. These areas are generally not visited by tourists as a matter of fact , many Jamaicans were unaware of the existence of this part of the island until recently which makes them all the more intriguing.
Contact the Jamaica Environment Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 876-960-3693 for more information on visiting the Goat Islands.
There is so much of Jamaica that is left to be discovered but I believe it should not always be at a cost that depletes our natural resources. It may be worthwhile to explore more environmentally friendly tourism.
Please spread the word by sharing on your blogs or social media and by signing the petition . It takes less than a minute to do so.
For more photos of the Portland Bight Protected Area you can view this lovely album of photos by Ted Eubanks . Have a great day.