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Jamaica is making progress in addressing beach erosion with the installation of a monitoring tower at the Hellshire Beach in St. Catherine.

The tower was erected under the ‘Impact Assessment of Climate Change on the Sandy Shorelines of the Caribbean Project’, which is an initiative of the Caribbean Sea Commission (CSC) of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).

The project aims to, among other things, establish a network for strengthening beach erosion monitoring in the Caribbean.

Beaches Coordinator at the National Environment and Planning Agency, Chalene Roye-Myrie, told JIS News that the tower “will be equipped with a video monitoring system and we will have 24-hour monitoring of the beach processes”.

“So, as the beach ebbs and flows, we will have real-time data, which gives us an idea of what is happening with the beach, where the sand is going, how often we are having erosion, and so on,” she said.

She was speaking during ‘NEPA Connects’ Instagram Live on September 17 @nepajamaica.

Installation of the tower is one of two aspects of the project in Jamaica.

The second area of focus is bolstering Jamaica’s beach-monitoring network and expanding it from 47 sites at eight locations to more areas across the island.

Mrs. Roye-Myrie said that NEPA “has been monitoring beach erosion for 20 years, so what this project will do is provide us with better equipment to properly monitor beaches and to expand the amount of sites that we do monitor”.

“We are hoping from all this monitoring data that we gather that we are able to garner funding to carry out restoration work, which is also pivotal to maintaining our beaches,” she noted.

For his part, Project Manager of the Sandy Shorelines Project, Collin Jack, in commending Jamaica’s beach-monitoring system, explained that the project involves member countries developing components to address the impact of climate change on beaches, having capacity-building exercises for the focal points across the region and establishing a beach erosion monitoring network.

“One of the first things we have done is to establish a beach erosion monitoring network to determine, over a period of time, how much beach we are losing, so we can bring it to governments to put in the requisite funding to ensure that we preserve what is so dear to us. Jamaica has a great monitoring programme, Trinidad has a great monitoring programme, but a number of the member states are not in similar positions, so we are lending our expertise in establishing that network,” Mr. Jack shared.

With a documented loss of between one and two metres of beach each year, beach erosion is a serious matter for the region to tackle.

The Sandy Shorelines Project, which began in 2018, is ongoing and is funded through US$4 million from the Korean International Corporation Agency (KOICA).

Mr. Jack said that that funding is going towards the implementation of the project in Caribbean member states.

“Our donor has been generous to provide us with equipment for the member states, which have begun to bolster what they are doing and to improve capacity of those that are at a basic level. We also intend to develop a manual of best practices that anyone in the region can utilise,” he informed.

The ‘NEPA Connects’ discussion session was held in observance of International Coastal Cleanup Day 2021 on September 18 under the theme ‘Solutions to Coastal Challenges: Case Studies of Climate Change, Sargassum and Microplastics’.

NEPA used the occasion to raise awareness about the regional response to beach erosion as a long-term effect of climate change.

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