Tourism ministry to undertake $34 million ‘Clean Coasts Project’
TOURISM and Entertainment Minister Wykeham McNeill says the ministry will be strengthening its partnership with the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) through a $34-million environmental awareness initiative called the 'Clean Coasts Project'.
The one-year project, funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), is intended to encourage Jamaicans to engage in sustained clean-up activities throughout the year instead of on just one day. At present, the ministry and its agencies partner with JET to promote and execute annual International Coastal Clean-up Day activities throughout the island.
Minister McNeill was addressing students, teachers and environmental stakeholders at JET's 2014 Awards Ceremony for the Jamaica Environmental Action Awards and the Schools' Environment Programme (SEP), held Wednesday at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston.
"The programme has evolved out of the need to encourage sustained behaviour change among Jamaicans and our visitors alike to issues relating to marine litter," Minister McNeill said, as he outlined components of the
project -- a land-based and underwater.
The land-based component will target 10 - 15 schools in resort areas as well as adult education. The project is also expected to form synergies with the JET's Schools' Environment Programme (SEP), which already uses the curricula in schools to spread the message of environmental stewardship. It will also work in tandem with Tourism Action Clubs, which are in schools islandwide, and other applicable groups.
Tourism stakeholders will be included in the selection of the schools, which are to be recruited over the summer and sensitised to ensure their readiness to participate, beginning in September 2014.
The underwater component will comprise the co-ordination of 32 dives across select resorts to clean up underwater environments, and will engage stakeholders such as fisherfolks in communities to ensure their involvement in the project.
Heavy emphasis will be placed on mitigation as the effect of garbage that is washed from gullies and drains during the rainy season will be reduced by routine cleaning. Cleaning will also be done at the start of the winter tourist season.
The project will be supported by a public education campaign and community consultations to obtain buy-in and participation.
Minister McNeill, meanwhile, called on the support of students and encouraged them to play their part by not littering
their surroundings. "For programmes of this nature to succeed we need the support of every Jamaican. We all need to be more responsible in how we dispose of our garbage to reduce the amount of garbage which ends up in our harbours and along our coastlines due to dumping in our gullies and drains,"
In commending JET and its partners for maintaining the two important programmes that encourage the protection of our environment and by extension our tourism product, Minister McNeill said, "We at the ministry are very serious about protecting the environment, and JET is one of our key allies in the fight against environmental degradation".