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Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Robert Montague, says the Government is currently drafting new legislation that will give Jamaica access to funding in the event of oil spillage at sea.

“The Maritime Environmental Fund has over $200 million that Jamaica has signed on to but we haven’t passed the local legislation, so the Government is moving on the legislative front to deal with this,” he noted.

“So, if there is a spill of any kind, the clean-up cost can be treated with this fund,” he added.

The Minister was speaking at the High Level Symposium for Transport Ministers of the Caribbean Region on Wednesday (February 27), at the Iberostar Hotel in Rose Hall, St. James.

Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Robert Montague, greets Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism and Investment, Antigua and Barbuda, Senator the Hon. Mary-Clare Hurst, at the High Level Symposium for Transport Ministers of the Caribbean Region on Wednesday (February 27), at the Iberostar Hotel in Rose Hall, St. James.

Mr. Montague noted that approximately 33 per cent of the world’s crude oil passes through the Caribbean.

In addition, 40 per cent of the world’s cruise tourism and 30 per cent of the world’s maritime trade transit takes place in the region.

With this in mind, the Minister stressed the importance for Jamaica and other Caribbean countries, by extension, to formulate the necessary legislative framework in order to better preserve and protect the blue economy.

“We don’t realise that there are real risks and serious pollution incidents, which are associated with the carriage of large volumes of oil and other substances. Many of us are not aware that the largest recorded pollution incident in the history of shipping occurred in our region when two very large crude carriers collided 10 miles off the coast off Trinidad and Tobago in 1979, resulting in approximately 287,000 tons of crude oil being discharged,” he said.

“We must abide by consistent standards in order to protect the ocean that surrounds us. The blue economy concept advocates for a balance between economic growth, improvement of livelihoods and ocean sustainability,” he pointed out.

Eight CARICOM transport ministers with responsibility for maritime affairs participated in the High Level Symposium.

The countries represented are Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, St. Lucia, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.