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Minister of Transport and Works, Michael Henry has commended Jamaica’s shipping industry for its commitment to international maritime standards, and protection of the marine environment.
Speaking at the official launch of the Maritime Awareness Week exhibition on September 25, at the Tom Redcam Library in Kingston, Mr. Henry told the gathering of seamen, environmentalists, students and other industry stakeholders, that as a member of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Jamaica’s maritime sector has shown its commitment to the highest international standards in shipping, by its ratification of the major IMO convention relating to safety, competence and importantly, marine environment protection.
“The Maritime Authority of Jamaica represents Jamaica at major meetings and plays a key leadership role in the development and promulgation of legislation for protection of the marine environment,” he noted, adding that the issue had far-reaching implications for the economic development of the country.
“In that context, I commend the maritime sector for undertaking an exhibition to highlight the importance of protecting the marine environment and the role being played by the various local entities in the quest to preserve our marine space,” he added.
The Minister stressed that the public should be made aware of the strides being made by the shipping industry in promulgating its pollution prevention responses.
One such recent response, he noted, was the commissioning of a feasibility study to establish a port reception facility for ship generated waste. “Funding is to be identified for an initial high capital cost. Legislation is about to be prepared to embrace all of the international maritime pollution prevention response and co-operation conventions, and importantly for Jamaica, compensation and liability insurance,” he disclosed.
Mr. Henry also informed that Jamaica has been asked by the IMO to become its lead Caribbean partner in the development of an institutional and legal framework for implementing the ballast water Convention.
Ballast water is taken into the ship’s cargo holds, in order to maintain its stability at sea, and then discharged at the next port before fresh new cargo is loaded. This water, Mr. Henry pointed out, sometimes create a threat to marine life. “Oftentimes the discharged ballast contains species that are alien to the new environment, and which can wreak havoc on many of the indigenous species,” he informed.
He added that the government’s marine agencies: the Maritime Authority, Shipping Association of Jamaica, and the Caribbean Maritime Institute, would be paying close attention to Jamaica’s obligations under international domestic law, “.so that we can educate and sensitize the nation to the perils of marine pollution, and in so doing, educate government about the pollution we continue to discharge in terms of the water around us and internally.”
“We hope that everyone present today will spread the good word about this exhibition, and more importantly, consider how each and every one of us can help to protect Jamaica’s fragile marine environment,” he urged.