ELAW Partners in Jamaica Celebrate Cancelled Breakwaters Project

We were thrilled to learn the Jamaican government has shelved a controversial multi-million dollar breakwater project that would have damaged Negril’s marine environment.

A popular tourist destination on Jamaica’s west coast, Negril is home to sensitive wetlands and marine habitats that are part of Jamaica’s rich ecological heritage.  While Negril’s beaches attract thousands of visitors each year, those same beaches are threatened by degraded coral reefs, wetlands and seagrass beds, as well as sand removal for coastal developments in other parts of the island.

In 2012, the Jamaican government proposed using the United Nations Adaptation Fund support to build two breakwaters to curtail erosion of Negril’s coastline.  But project proponents failed to consult Negril community members adequately, and the dredging and coastal reclamation required for construction would have caused irreversible damage to critical marine ecosystems.

ELAW Partners at the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) have worked with concerned citizens and the Negril Chamber of Commerce for years to protect Negril’s marine environment.  JET called on ELAW Staff Scientists Mark Chernaik and Heidi Weiskel to review the Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed breakwaters.  Mark and Heidi determined the project would jeopardize seagrass and coral reefs that are integral for shoreline protection.

“We were very encouraged by the cancellation of this project,” said JET CEO Diana McCaulay.  “We congratulate the Negril stakeholders, who worked long and hard to make sure it did not go ahead.  We continue to work with them to find and implement solutions to the decades of damage in Negril caused by poor planning, weak enforcement and inadequate coastal zone management.”

Congratulations, JET!

Ashley White
Director of Philanthropy

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