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Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) will seek to develop eco-tourism in the Goat Islands, as the Government moves to establish the area as a wildlife sanctuary.

He noted that while the aim of the Goat Islands Wildlife Sanctuary is to preserve the island’s biodiversity, eco-tourism will provide an avenue for some economic benefit.

Mr. Holness, who was making his contribution to the 2020/21 Budget Debate in House of Representatives on March 19,  informed that the planning process has now begun for the establishment of the sanctuary which will be the first of its kind in Jamaica.

“Further to the successful conservation work in the Hellshire Hills area, a concerted effort is being made to preserve the ecosystem at Goat Islands and its surrounding waters and to use the tenets of sustainable development to maintain the natural environment while creating an avenue of economic activity,” he said.

The Prime Minister noted that the proposal to develop the Goat Islands as a port is no longer being pursued.

“I listened to the complaints of the environmental activists. I took the time…toured it and I took the view that we can’t use all of our natural assets and turn them into enterprises…We will leave those islands in their natural state… the Goat Islands will be preserved for generations to come,” he assured.

The sanctuary, which is to be established at a cost of $1.9 billion, will also provide significant research opportunities for ongoing conservation and natural resources management initiatives.

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