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Save The Goat Islands In Jamaica

Brown Noddy . Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

Brown Noddy . Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

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.

Mangroves in the Portland Bight Protected Area. Photo By Ted Lee Eubanks

Mangroves in the Portland Bight Protected Area. Photo By Ted Lee Eubanks

What are the Goat Islands?

Old Harbour Bay. Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

Old Harbour Bay. Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

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?

Flower . Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

Flower . Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

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 ?

The Sign Speaks for Itself. Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

The Sign Speaks for Itself. Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

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

Nesting Birds. Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

Nesting Birds. Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

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.

Little Half Moon Cay -Part of Portland Bight Protected Area. Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

Little Half Moon Cay -Part of Portland Bight Protected Area. Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

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.

Butterfly . Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

Butterfly . Photo by Ted Lee Eubanks

Contact the Jamaica Environment Trust at jamentrust@cwjamaica.com 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.

Janeen

Janeen is a Travel Writer based in Kingston, Jamaica. Her work has been published in the UK, Germany and Jamaica as well as various online publications. She is also a contributing writer to Our Jamaica Magazine, the official guide for the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association. Follow her @drylandtourist

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13 Responses

  1. Thanks for highlighting the issue – I haven’t heard of Goat Islands, let alone about the development plans, but it sounds like an important situation to learn about. Perhaps when I travel around the island a bit more I will gain more info on it. Never doubt the power of a single voice!

    Cat

  2. petchary says:

    Thank you so much for this! I just found your blog post. Ted’s photos are amazing. Thank you for spreading the word about Goat Islands/the Portland Bight Protected Area. I understand the government is in quite a hurry to get this wrapped up with the Chinese. A study is already under way, to be completed by the end of THIS month (never mind about the Environmental Impact Assessment!) and then it will go to Cabinet – which may be just a rubber stamp. So, the concerns are real and the matter is urgent! You may have seen the article on my blog and I just posted a follow-up on the Cockpit Country, which is also threatened – by bauxite mining.

    • You are welcome. I often blog on fun great things I enjoy but it is also important to address important issue. I did a similar blog about Winnifred Beach. If we don’t speak out our leaders will leave us or our children with barren lands where not even trees can grow and then when there is no more to exploit they will migrate .
      We have so many things that are exotic and unique to Jamaica and we take for granted because we don’t see immediate dollar value . Luminous Lagoon is one such place there is only 3 other places that are similar in the world and soon it will disappear. I will check your blog soon 🙂

  3. tiffany satchell says:

    I agree with u. Lets save our little paradise. We need to unite and stand Firm as our motto ” Out of many one people” right now. Let us please come together before these so called government imbisols wreck our land.

  4. Reblogged this on THE ISLAND JOURNAL and commented:
    Save The Goat Islands In Jamaica

  5. AUNTI CARMEN says:

    Jamaican’s please be aware “no where is better than yaad” pardon my spelling, long time I have not used my native language. but be care full of foreigners bearing gifts. when they destroy our environment they will leave like the British did and go home. Jamaica is all we have. we get most of our business through tourisim, please learn from the past. the Boxite company, a lot of land in Manchester was destroyed and the people are still suffering. I live abroad and wish I had never left Jamaica, because now I realize we have a little heaven on earth call Jamaica. don’t let outsiders fool you with wonderful words and promises. JAMAICA IS THE ONLY PLACE WE HAVE TO CALL HOME.PLEASE PROTECT WHAT OUR ANCESTORS FIGHT AND DIED FOR. SAVE THE NATURAL PRESURVE ON THE ISLAND. WE ARE NOT THAT HUNGRY. AND IF WE ARE, WE KNOW HOW TURN HAND AND MAKE FASHIN. I WILL BE SPREADING THE WORD TO OTHER JAMAICAN IN THE US AND GERMANY. MAY GOD KEEP US STRONG TO KEEP GREED FROM OUR ISLAND.

  6. Chris Reid says:

    Thank you for this.
    I’ve added you to my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Jawaican

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