Public comments invited on Beach Access and Management Policy

Public comments invited on Beach Access and Management Policy

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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THE public is invited to make comments and provide recommendations on the Beach Access and Management Policy for Jamaica, which is now at the draft stage of development.

This call comes from Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment, and Climate Change Pearnel Charles Jr, who noted that the input of the public is vital in ensuring that the policy is beneficial to everyone.

“We want to hear you, your thoughts and your ideas as we work together to finalise and implement this Beach Access and Management Policy that will benefit all Jamaicans for generations to come,” he said, in a recorded message during a virtual media sensitisation session on the policy on Thursday.

Minister Charles noted that through the policy, the Government is seeking to increase access to the foreshore (wet sand or gravel area) and to improve the standard of the beaches available to the public.

“We aim to achieve these goals by strengthening the institutional arrangements for the development and maintenance of our beaches, providing increased access of beachgoers to the foreshore and the beach, and providing and maintaining bathing beaches with excellent amenities, which take into account environmental concerns,” he said.

He noted that in preparing the draft policy, consideration was given to all the relevant interests, including the traditional rights of fishers, as well as factors affecting the island's beaches, including erosion as a result of the impact of weather systems, climate change and pollution from land-based sources.

Government, he said, will be carrying out coastal protection works in the eastern end of the island, through the National Works Agency, National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), and with the financial support of the Adaptation Fund.

“Additionally, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) will continue to assist the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) and NEPA in its capacity as the beach control authority with the provision of technical and financial support in the rehabilitation of some of the island's public beaches,” he said.

The minister said that the Government is committed to ensuring that Jamaicans and the island's visitors have access to beaches of good quality. “As such, the consultations being hosted by my ministry will be comprehensive and inclusive. We are canvassing a wide cross section of society as we gain feedback in order to shape this important and far-reaching national policy,” he said.

The policy's Green Paper was tabled in the House of Representatives in October last year by Minister Charles. Since then, as part of the policy development process, the Ministry's Environment and Risk Management Branch has been hosting a series of virtual consultations with a number of stakeholders.

Beginning December 14 last year, consultations have been held with Government stakeholders; civil society – January 6, 2021; and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) – January 12, 2021. A session was also held Thursday morning with the private sector, prior to the media sensitisation session.

The minister said he was encouraged by the level of engagement and interest thus far, and again encouraged persons to “feel free to make their recommendations and suggestions, so we come out with a comprehensive and very useful policy for the country at large”.

Virtual town halls will be held for the general public on January 26 and February 2. These sessions are to be streamed live on the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) and the Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment, and Climate Change platforms.

Persons can send in written suggestions on the policy to: policycomments@megjc.gov.jm. The policy document can be accessed at BAMP_GreenPaper.pdf ( mhurecc.gov.jm).

The results of the consultations will be used in the revision of the policy before it is submitted to Cabinet for approval as a final policy.


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