News

Portland Bight is 15!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014    

Print this page Email A Friend!


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.

"We believe the minister erred in granting the Certificate of Exemption, and we are concerned that this act strikes at the letter and spirit of the Access to Information Act," JET's Legal Director Danielle Andrade said in a statement yesterday.

The organisation explained that it requested the documents from the Port Authority of Jamaica in October 2013, and that access was denied in November 2013.

"JET then filed an appeal to the Appeals Tribunal of the Access to Information Act and was awaiting a hearing date when the organisation received notice that the minister of finance and planning had granted the Certificate of Exemption," it told the media.

"We regard openness and transparency as a critical foundation of good environmental stewardship," said JET CEO Diana McCaulay. "Natural resources, especially those in protected areas, belong to the people of Jamaica, and projects which are very likely to harm those resources should be subject to thorough and early public consultation and disclosure of important documents."

Portland Bight Protected Area spans 1,876 sq km of land and sea on Jamaica's south coast and is the island's largest protected area. It features dry limestone forests, wetlands, coral reefs, beaches, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, coral reefs and caves, and boasts some 400 plant species and about 20 animal species, several of which are found nowhere else in the world.

ADVERTISEMENT

POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

 

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper – email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

Did the NWC prepare adequately for the current drought?
Yes
No


View Results »


ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT