A Cays Management Policy is scheduled to be completed in 2013, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown said.
Speaking at the 107th meeting of the National Council on Ocean and Coastal Zone Management (NCOCZM), held on December 19 at the offices of the Ministry, in Kingston, Mr. Brown said the Cays Management Committee, which was resuscitated after a two-year break, had come up with a plan to complete the policy.
“This is in serious train, because not only have we met but we have identified resources that will facilitate the conclusion of the Cays Management Policy,” he said.
He cited a published article which highlighted the improper living conditions at the Pedro Cays (middle cays), where about 400 Jamaicans live. The Pedro Cays consist of a group of small isolated coralline islands emerging from the southeastern edge of the Pedro Banks.
“That situation is very untenable and unsustainable and it is central to the work of the Cays Management Policy. We don’t want to have a policy that is on paper, we want one that is implementable and that we can manage these resources in the best interest of all concerned,” he said.
This was the final meeting for 2012 and the State Minister, who is Chair of the Council, headquartered in the Ministry, used the opportunity to reflect on the work of the Council and its value to Jamaica.
Mr. Brown said that despite the challenges, the Council was able to achieve some successes since he assumed the chairmanship at the start of the year. These included the completion of a general review of a draft Diving Regulations and the holding of an oil spill contingency plan workshop.
He said that Jamaica became home to one of six ICON stations in the world, in February 2012. The station, installed in Discovery Bay, St. Ann, will provide data to establish long-term environmental trends, which will support many ongoing and future research programmes in coral reef ecosystem.
Other achievements include the nomination, at the invitation of Council, of four Jamaicans to serve in the pool of experts for the United Nations Global Assessment of the World’s Oceans.
The State Minister urged Council members to redouble their efforts to implement the Diving Regulations and a Cays Management Policy, within the framework of a comprehensive marine policy for Jamaica by 2013.
“We must continue to educate the public about the importance of Jamaica’s marine resources and our status as an archipelagic state, highlighting conservation and protection efforts,” he said.