Stiffer penalties coming for environmental breaches - Senator Samuda
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Senator Matthew Samuda, addressing Friday’s sitting of the Senate. (Photo: Michael Sloley)

The Wildlife Protection Act and the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Act will be amended to provide stiffer fines and penalties for breaches.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda, served notice on Friday during his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate.

“Those who have flouted our laws and polluted with little to no consequences will now see consequences that match the scale of the problem. That will happen before the completion of the financial year,” Samuda said.

He told the Senate that the amendments to the Wildlife Protection Act will also enable Jamaica to meet its international obligations.

“Members of this House should be aware that Jamaica signed the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) protocol in 1990. The SPAW Protocol follows an ecosystem approach and supplies a unique legal framework for the conservation of the region’s biodiversity.

“Now Jamaica has been unable to accede to the protocol and be fully compliant with its intent for 32 years because of the failure to amend the Wildlife Protection Act. This administration will address this legacy issue before the end of this fiscal year,” he said.

Samuda said the Government will move to create a designation under the NRCA Act for ecologically sensitive areas.

This, he said, will provide a greater level of protection for areas with environmental sensitivities.

He informed that the government has already identified 16 such areas, nine of which will be in the coastal zone. The first designated area will be Great Bay in Southwest St. Elizabeth.

“This will mean that activities such as the illegal sand mining we saw earlier in the year will not be permitted and will not be considered by any government in the future. The work to create this designation is virtually complete, I await the Prime Minister’s signature for us to bring it to you,” he said.

Samuda said Jamaica must become a centre of excellence in environmental management and in the issues related to climate change.

“We have to work with everyone, non-governmental organisations, environmentalists and community leaders, as we are in a race against time. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleague senators,” he said.

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