AN environmental management scoping study of the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA) says that the area is not exclusively an environmental conservatory, but is intended to facilitate multiple activities in a sustainable manner.
The report also pointed out that, while the area hosts natural heritage resources, it also includes a number of major industrial, commercial, residential, and agricultural activities, including Jamalco at Rocky Point Port, the Jamaica Public Service plant at Old Harbour, the Jamaica Broilers ethanol plant, and the Doctor Bird barges.
However, the report suggested that institutional strengthening of the protected area would be necessary if it is to facilitate any infrastructural development on the Goat Islands.
"This plan would aim at improving the management of the natural resources of the declared protected areas of the PBPA," said the report of the study which was commissioned by the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and presented to the House of Representatives by Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Dr Omar Davies, yesterday.
According to the report, the project development, to carefully design any compensatory strategies, should commence concurrently with the development of the project to facilitate environmental policy and regulatory compliance between the proposed US$1.5-billion trans-shipment port plan offered by the Chinese investors and environmental conservation.
The report was based on an environmental management scoping study of the Portland Bight Area -- inclusive of the Goat Islands -- done by Conrad Douglas and Associates, which has some 25 years experience in various aspects project development and environmental management.
Davies said that it will be a useful guide in determining the appropriate issues to be addressed in an environmental impact assessment that will be accommodated if the Cabinet approves the proposals from China Harbour Engineering Company.
"Assuming that the project meets with the approval of Cabinet, it will be submitted to the National Environment Planning Agency for the determination of the terms of reference of an environmental impact assessment," Davies said.
He added that the PAJ has been instructed to summarise the key points of the Environmental Scoping Study, and this will be available on the PAJ's website, www.portjam.com, by noon today.
He said that the PAJ has also been instructed to meet with the environmental groups to discuss the full report.