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JIS News

As climate change continues to be an increasingly topical issue, Jamaicans are becoming more aware of how the sustainability of the ocean impacts their lives, and what they must do to protect it.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Ronald Robinson made this observation in a JIS News interview.
In fact, fisher folk at the Port Henderson Fishing Beach in Portmore, St.Catherine agree, making note of some of the bad practices over the years that have posed challenges to their livelihood. These include the discharge of untreated waste water, garbage and other debris that destroy reefs and contaminate the waters that lap the island’s shores.
It is understandable then why they are happy that action is being taken, not just by citizens, to keep the ocean and the beaches clean, but also by the Government as, among other things, it has intensified solid waste collection activities.
Dr. Robinson, who currently Chairs the National Council on Coastal and Ocean Zone Management says “more persons are realising that climate changes and how we care for our environment and for the ocean is very important. Jamaicans are far more aware now that they were five years ago.”
The State Minister notes that legislation to protect Jamaican waters is far advanced. “Jamaica has signed on to many international treaties giving us compensation rights within its jurisdiction. We have completed the ‘delimitation’ of our borders, extending it to some 200 miles off-shore and so we’re very proud of that,” he informs.
He notes the importance of the National Council on Coastal and Ocean Zone Management, as it addresses, “things such as tide gauges which measure the level of sea rise that impacts Jamaica, putting in a crew station to facilitate real-time on-line and on-time recording of data that is fed into the world Noah system in Washington, tracking and measuring and having good rainfall and stream flow data, the things that would affect us in the future to ensure better planning.”
Dr. Robinson stresses that it was crucial that Jamaicans take on the protection of the island’s oceanic space and resources as a central part of their daily lives. “If that goes what else do we have? So we have a duty to future generations to protect it,” he said.
Recently, Minister with oversight responsibility for the ocean, through the Law of the Sea, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, stated that ocean protection is critical for Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean, whose fragile ecosystems were already vulnerable to land and marine pollution and degradation. The focus on marine research further offered possibilities for scientists and institutions in developing countries to participate and benefit from marine scientific research, he said.
Dr. Baugh said Jamaica was encouraged by the prominence of the Law of the Sea Authority and would be paying keen attention to the issue in its future work plan, in order to mitigate the harmful effects of exploration and mining, and prevent damage to flora and fauna.
Pointing to steady progress being made in developing the regulatory framework for the exploration of the seabed, Dr. Baugh expressed confidence that further advances would be made during this session of the Authority, which ended earlier this month.
The main work conducted by the Authority was the review of draft regulations on prospecting and exploration for polymetallic sulphides.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is also making its presence felt on the issue of coastal water protection. At the recent launch of Disaster Preparedness Month, Director General of ODPEM, Ronald Jackson, stressed that the Office will be looking back at the revised ODPEM Act, and addressing topical and critical issues such as ‘No Build Zones’. This he said as these areas affect critical waterways, which eventually impact the countries coastal waters.