JIS News

Conservationist and Executive Director of the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (CCAMF), Peter Espeut has called on the Jamaican community overseas to support ongoing efforts to preserve the island’s marine ecology, including wildlife in the Portland Bight Protected Area.
“This is the habitat for a variety of wildlife, which are only to be found in Jamaica. Indeed, many of these species are known to exist only in this part of the island,” he said, pointing to the Jamaican iguana, the thunder snake, the blue-tailed bird and a unique fish-eating bat as examples.
He further explained that the Portland Bight coastline had the largest mangrove system in Jamaica, with extensive sea grass beds and coral reefs, which provide the largest nursery for fish and other marine life in Jamaica’s territorial waters. “The reality is that it is in our interest to protect the Portland Bight marine area because of its very crucial importance to us as a country,” he noted.
Mr. Espeut was speaking at a public lecture hosted by the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington, to acquaint environmental advocates and the Jamaican community about the work of the CCAMF in promoting sustainable development in the Portland Bight Protected Area.
The lecture in Washington was one of several engagements in the United States for Mr. Espeut, who also addressed a forum of local environmental interests in Virginia on Sunday. He was accompanied by Brandon Haye, a researcher and the Technical Director of the CAAMF.
Speaking of the need for Jamaicans to coexist with wildlife, Mr. Espeut insisted that it was possible for Jamaicans to be good environmental stewards and, at the same time, consume and profit from the diverse array of marine life in the country’s coastal waters. “However, in order to achieve this balance, it is important that environmental groups focus even more on managing people rather than just solely moving to protect wildlife and the environment. Humans remain the greatest threat to these already (vulnerable) areas,” he said.
Mr. Espeut noted that a key objective of the organization was to strengthen the Portland Bight Fisheries Management Council (PBFMC) by providing additional training and support for members while employing additional field support staff, including marine rangers.
He said that efforts were also underway to implement fisheries management strategies that would prevent the destruction of young fish stock and to produce educational videos on fisheries management and related issues. In addition, the CCAMF was looking at environmental tourism as an alternative source of income for the Portland Bight fishing community, he informed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Espeut continues to benefit from funding from the Pew Foundation in the United States for the training of approximately 40 fishermen as game wardens. These wardens have been authorised by the Jamaican government to enforce natural resource regulations in the Portland Bight Protected Area. The individuals are trained in Jamaican fisheries law, arrest procedures, how to take statements from witnesses, how to preserve evidence and to give evidence in court.
Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Professor Gordon Shirley praised Mr. Espeut and the CCAMF for their “pioneering work in preserving and protecting Jamaica’s environment and its marine life.”
He noted that Mr. Espeut’s work constituted “an integral part of our overall development focus and is critical to maintaining and protecting (the integrity of) Jamaica’s coastal waters which provide a livelihood for many Jamaicans.”
Professor Shirley promised that the Embassy would increase efforts to garner additional support for the Portland Bight Project and he urged Jamaicans in Washington to increase their support for organizations, such as the CCAMF, and other environmental causes in the country.

Skip to content