In August 2013, the Government of Jamaica revealed that China Harbour Engineering Company had selected the Goat Islands as their preferred site for a proposed trans-shipment port, part of a larger plan for a ‘logistics hub’ in Jamaica. These two small islands lie about 1.5 km off the south coast of Jamaica within the waters of a large, open and shallow bay called Portland Bight. This bay and the lands surrounding it form part of the Portland Bight Protected Area, created in 1999 under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act.
The Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA) covers 1,876 sq km of land and sea on Jamaica’s south coast spanning parts of Clarendon and St. Catherine, equalling 4.7% of Jamaica’s land area and 47.6% of the island shelf (shallow waters surrounding Jamaica). The valuable natural resources of this region include: dry limestone forests, wetlands, mangrove forests, beaches, seagrass beds, coral reefs, caves, and approximately 379 species of plants and 18 species of native animals, seven of which are found only in the PBPA.
Extrapolating from the parameters of existing and planned transshipment ports, the immediate physical impacts would be from dredging the sea floor, removal of coastal mangroves and seagrasses, and paving of a large land surface. On 29 August 2013, a group of scientists, NGO representatives, and civil society leaders issued a press release calling the site “totally unsuitable” for the proposed port, citing the following likely impacts: destruction of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests; irreversible loss of biodiversity and critical habitats for several rare, threatened, or endangered species; loss of amenity values and eco-tourism potential; decline in productivity of fisheries; beach erosion; increased run-off and flooding from the land; increased vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change; and higher storm surges from the sea.
Few details have been provided by the government on the planned development of the transshipment port in response to questions from the public and requests under the Access to Information Act. Despite the scale of this proposed project in an area under multiple layers of legal protection for its ecological benefits, there has been very little consultation with stakeholders.
You can join in the fight to halt this destructive project and save Goat Islands by taking any of the following action:
- Sign the Petition addressed to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, et al. Share the Petition with your friends using this link: http://chn.ge/1ecZdCO
- Join the No! to Port on Goat Islands Facebook Page
- Write to the newspapers in Jamaica: The Gleaner – firstname.lastname@example.org; Jamaica Observer – email@example.com
- Donate to the Save Goat Islands campaign.
- Order your SAVE GOAT ISLANDS T-shirt from the Jamaica Environment Trust. If you are in Jamaica, use the online form, or order by calling Martina at 960-3693. Shirts are JA$1000 each. We will call you when your shirts are ready to be collected. To order shirts in the USA, you may order through our Booster Campaign page. Booster will print and ship the shirts to you and are $15 USD each.