An Open Letter to Minister Robert Pickersgill


In case you missed it, an edited version of this letter was printed in the “Jamaica Observer” on September 28. For more information (and daily updates on the campaign, as well as all kinds of useful and informative background material) visit the “No! to Port on Goat Island, Jamaica” Facebook page. Please, if you have not already done so, sign and share widely the online petition, and read some of the many, many heartfelt messages on that page from signatories in Jamaica and around the world. I will be sharing much more relevant information from Steven G. Smith in the next week or so.

To me, this letter makes perfect sense. There is so much potential in a “green” economy for Jamaica – in other words, sustainable development. Can we please think more seriously about this concept? It has just become a convenient catch-phrase for Jamaican politicians, and I am not sure that they understand what it could mean for Jamaica. Let’s give it more thought… And let us think long term. Our future, Jamaica’s future and the world’s is at stake. 

September 26, 2013

To: Honorable Minister Robert Pickersgill, Minister of Water, Land, Environment & Climate Change

 
I’m sure by now you have heard my name, Steven G. Smith, Campaign Organizer, NO! to the Port on Goat Islands/PBPA, Jamaica. As the Campaign Organizer it is my job to convey the messages from the supporters of the NO! Campaign, which is why I am writing to you today. The current status of the NO! to the Port movement breaks down to: 

Petition Signatures: 2893
Web Site members: 566 (Facebook page)
(as of September 29, 2013)

The reason I bring these numbers to your attention is to point out that we come from a mix of backgrounds. Our supporters are engineers, zoologists, herpetologists, economists, doctors, biologists, law students, environmentalists, actors, concerned citizens of Jamaica (both local and living abroad), as well as other concerned people from all over the world. 

Our web site has compiled information as it pertains to the PBPA and all protected areas in Jamaica. Our biggest question at this point is why this “Laptop” study is going forward? The PBPA is a legally protected area, not only under agreements made within the Jamaican Parliament, but under international agreements and treaties. We believe this so-called study will show nothing that isn’t already known about the PBPA. That information was collected to set the boundaries of the PBPA in the first place and has been assessed & monitored by many different organizations since. The conclusion remains the same: it needs to remain a legally protected area. 

Development of a port in this or any other legally protected area will cause irreversible damage to Jamaica’s unique biodiversity in that area. In some cases this is the only area where these endemic species are found on the face of the earth. It is our sincere hope that you would do everything in your power to stop the development of this project in any protected area. 
 
Please note, that while we are against the development of this project in protected areas, we are not against its development in general. We are very aware that Jamaicans need sustainable economic growth. We support and encourage that. We feel the only way to get onto that path is by first investing in the people of Jamaica, empowering them to set a course toward economic stability, through education, jobs training, and Government-funded renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind. These types of projects can not only lessen the carbon footprint, but also reduce the country’s dependency on fuel imported to create energy. Such project would put into motion sustainable jobs programs and grow the economy. We also understand that the initial costs are high, but those are offset over time. 

In reviewing Jamaica’s policy of inviting outside investment into the country we have found that the vast majority of the time the investments, while at times substantial, too often fall short of the promise of prosperity for the Jamaican people, and are often outside the control of the Government due to the concessions that where made to get the investment in the first place. The mindset of getting money in to help stave off a bill elsewhere in a deficit is never-ending. The thought here is that if you’re going to go into debt, it should be for something of value that will benefit all in the long run, otherwise it is nothing but more debt. 

Given that Jamaica has limited resources and space, it is our hope that there would be a call from some official to halt this project now and stop wasting money to see if it can be developed in a protected area, and move towards finding a solution that will be of the best economic benefit to the citizens of Jamaica and its environment.

Humbly,
Steven G. Smith
NO! to Port on Goat Island/PBPA, Jamaica
Campaign Organizer  

smsteven1011@msn.com

Please sign and share the online petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/no-to-port-on-goat-island-jamaica-no-trans-shipping-port-portland-bight-protected-area-jamaica?share_id=eqkTTbjcGd&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

Browse through the stunning photo album by naturalist Ted Lee Eubanks – all photographs taken by him during an excursion and study of the Portland Bight Protected Area (including Goat Islands) on the Caribbean Birding Trail (http://www.caribbeanbirdingtrail.org), last year. Here is the link to the photos: http://tinyurl.com/mnmmpt9 

https://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/lets-save-jamaicas-portland-bight-protected-area/ Let’s save Jamaica’s Portland Bight Protected Area: petchary.wordpress.com

One of the mangrove lagoons in the fish sanctuary on the north side of the Goat Islands. (My photo)
One of the mangrove lagoons in the fish sanctuary on the north side of the Goat Islands. (My photo)
A mangrove flower. (Photo: Ted Lee Eubanks)
A mangrove flower. (Photo: Ted Lee Eubanks)
The recent flotilla of seven boats passed around the Goat Islands. We were not allowed to land on them. Here we are near on end of Great Goat Island, which is 700 feet at its highest point. (My photo)
The recent flotilla of 56 Jamaicans on seven boats passed around the Goat Islands on September 14. We were not allowed to land on them. Here we are near one end of Great Goat Island, which is 700 feet at its highest point. (My photo)

 

Brown Noddies fly from their nesting place in the Portland Bight Protected Area. (Photo: Ted Lee Eubanks)
Brown Noddies fly from their nesting place in the Portland Bight Protected Area. (Photo: Ted Lee Eubanks)

 

A stretch of beach on Little Goat Island. (My photo)
A stretch of beach on Little Goat Island. (My photo)

 


4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Minister Robert Pickersgill

  1. Sacred places (eco systems) should not be defiled at any cost….they were found on this earth to teach us about very special places…there is no development that can compare to sacred places which should be left un-touched from the greed, ambition and
    shortsighted men.
    Elizabeth Ruth Johnston

    Like

    1. I absolutely agree. Sacred places like these are eternal. All these “development” plans are for short-term gain. And believe me, this place has a real aura about it. A very special place, indeed.

      Like

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