Wednesday, May 28, 2014

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Dear Editor
Has anyone heard a solution like this before?
As a medico and retired surgeon, the above treatment is plainly ludicrous.
But you don’t have to be a surgeon to know that – it only needs common sense.
But yet, that is what our “surgeons” want to do to Negril. Negril with its seven miles of pure white sand beach including Bloody Bay is world famous and a paragon of nature.
Sure – the beach has been shrinking in width due to many man-made influences resulting in the loss of a viable coral reef with its attendant fish life and the removal and dying out of sea grass.  But sand comes and sand goes if truly left to natures’ wisdom and God’s plan. But so far, man (nicknamed ‘government’) thinks it can do much better. What a joke. A bad joke! So far due to major mortal interference in the past, the Negril River has been diverted so that the Great Morass has dried and died.  Now this naturally made the filtering of human waste and trash, toxic fertilisers and other chemicals no longer possible. 
Instead the dried out area catches fire at the drop of a hat, and while the remaining dry flora burns and then eventually burns out, the deep dry peat in the bog smoulders on for weeks sometimes and causes new fires to re-ignite.  The tourists and locals alike love inhaling smoke – I don’t think so!
The sewage and chemicals over many years and especially more recently, without this filter, all but killed the offshore coral reef – another major attraction for visiting tourists and locals almost destroyed by ill thought of human intervention.
This was one example of another fantastic idea that went totally wrong.  Do we need another one?
Then, thanks to the efforts of locals and stakeholders under the auspices of The Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society, the reef is finally showing some signs of regeneration on its way towards becoming what it was when I used to snorkel it in the seventies. Before we interfered this was an absolutely stunning instance of nature at its best.
But in spite of this limited progress, now the relevant government departmental authorities want to use a US$5 million plus Grant from the Adaptation Fund - a financial administration branch of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  This finances approved adaption schemes to combat climate change in underdeveloped countries.
The authorities have approved this grant to:
(a)   Build a Breakwater of huge boulders which abuts each end of the existing regenerating reef and will be just over half an unnatural mile long.  This equates to a five acre footprint.
(b)   Dredge the Negril River of silt, largely sand from the shrinking beach – done three times before, without any permanent effect as nature just fills it up again
(c)    Reclaim land beside the river mouth to build something on it – who knows what?
This proposed Boulder Breakwater is the reason for my comments. 
Firstly it is assumed it will protect some 1.5 miles out of seven miles of beach – if it works at all – and it has never been tried or tested under similar circumstances!
Secondly it will be visible above sea level at the site of one of nature’s most wonderful sunset scenarios. Not to mention the ecological damage to the source of the boulders, the trucking of the same through the already potholed roads of the town 24 times a day for nine months to one year, the resultant congestion and the further road damage, the shipping of them out to dump in the sea, the damage to the existing reef in this process, and the disruption of the tourist destination – either temporarily - or even worse - permanently.
I am not even thinking what might happen in a later hurricane – the boulders are of a size which experience in Hurricane Ivan in 2004 has proved, can shift and even bring to shore.
Negril is currently a major Jamaican tourist attraction, the largest employment area in the island secondary only to Kingston, a major source of income to our island and a natural paradise.
No wonder the concerned are raising their voices for a better proven solution! 
The much more viable alternative is beach nourishment by pumping sand from an offshore sand bank which already exists.  This has been done quickly and successfully in no less a place than Miami Beach – another location which no doubt would love us to go ahead with a boulder breakwater as it would in all likelihood swell their tourist coffers to the detriment of Jamaica’s.
Of course against this reasonably natural solution, someone would lose a huge trucking/shipping contract, but at least Negril would still be Negril. ‘Nuff said!  Do not let this happen to us!
Dr. Garth Fraser MB. BS (UWI); FRCS(C) West End Road, Negril

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