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Tourism interests in Negril say Hurricane Delta brought much-needed sand

Observer West writer

Thursday, October 15, 2020

NEGRIL, Hanover - Tourism interests in Negril have attributed the deposit of tons of sand to the previously eroded seven–mile white sand beach in the resort town over the past week, to Hurricane Delta, which recently passed about 165 miles south-west of the town causing up to 30 feet of storm surge in the West End area of Negril

According to president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce (NCC), Richard Wallace, operator of Board Walk Village located on Norman Manley Boulevard, the hurricane caused tons of sand to be deposited mainly in that area, which is home to the famous seven-mile white sand beach.

“I gained a few feet the other day. There is a lot of sand that was brought up to the shore. Right now the beach is very shallow going further out because there is so much sand at the foreshore,” Wallace told the Jamaica Observer West on Tuesday.

“Negril beach is healthy. Negril beach is not in any danger right now…” Wallace stressed.

However, the chamber president was quick to point out that the restoration of the sand on the beach is not a permanent fix to the long-standing erosion problem.

“This is not a permanent fix. You have to watch it over the next few days because if you talk to the fishermen and the old people that live on the beach, they will tell you that the sea takes care of itself,” said Wallace.

“Even the seaweed that is brought up on the shore, the sea brings up the seaweeds, deposits them on the shore and then a few days or weeks later, it comes back and takes them, if they are still there, because we [hoteliers] don't wait on the sea to come and take them back, we remove it because we cannot have the seaweeds piled up there.”

On Tuesday, environmental scientist Dr Carlton Campbell, who is familiar with the beach erosion matter in Negril, said he was unable to speak to the specifics of what is currently happening in that area. However, he did point out that from time to time, “the beach will fluctuate.”

He said the claim about the returning of the sand to the beach by the business interests in Negril, is a possible natural phenomenon.

“Possibilities are that the sand will be eroded over time as there is nothing to protect it,” he stressed.

Over the years, there has been severe erosion of the Negril beach resulting in stakeholders being forced to explore measures to address the worrying matter.

As part of the ongoing efforts, stakeholders are currently working on having a Negril beach nourishment project implemented, aimed at protecting the beach from the inevitable effects of climate change.

The approximately US$13-million project is being spearheaded by the Negril Chamber of Commerce and involves a slew of stakeholders.

The initiative follows years of failed efforts to save the beach from further erosion.

In December 2014, National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA) gave approval for the National Works Agency (NWA) to construct two breakwaters off the Negril shoreline as part of efforts to prevent further erosion.

However, after the JLP Administration took office in 2016, a stop was placed on the controversial US$5-million breakwater project, which the Negril community and environmentalists had objected to.

Wallace said the initial breakwater project was a bad idea.

“I can say now that there is absolutely no way that a breakwater could have prevented that [further erosion] from happening. There is absolutely no way. Yes, it may offer some protection, but we think we would be worse off and we still stand by our decision to stop the breakwater and what we are proposing is a soft solution [beach nourishment],” expressed Wallace.