Jamaicans to have more access to public beaches

3 years ago

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Jamaicans will soon have more access to public beaches. The Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change is actively seeking to improve access to and management of the nation’s public beaches, through the development of the Beach Access and Management Policy.

“The policy seeks to increase physical and visual access by the public to the foreshore, which is that part of the beach between high and low water marks, or between the water and land. The document will also address the management of the beaches as it pertains to maintenance and development,”

Acting Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Gillian Guthrie, shared.

“Over time, some of the beach access points have become overgrown with vegetation or barricaded by persons. Under the policy, we are advocating that these access points be reopened and where they do not exist, they are established. The policy will also stipulate that an inventory be kept for all these access points in every parish so that persons can locate and identify the entry points of public beaches,”

she said.

Guthrie shared that some of the issues that were seen early in the development stage of the policy were the lack of beach entry points as well as insufficient amenities and sanitation facilities.

The policy prescribes that at least one public beach be established in each parish, with proper infrastructure for public recreation.

“The Government has already started a rehabilitation programme of the island’s public beaches, which is being carried out by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) with support from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF),”

she pointed out.

Guthrie also noted that once beaches have been rehabilitated, citizens can help to maintain them by practising proper waste management, good fishing practices and when required, contribute through the payment of an entry/maintenance fee.

According to the records of NEPA, Jamaica has approximately 76 public beaches across 14 parishes. All public beaches will be impacted by the completion of the Beach Access and Management Policy, currently in the draft stage (Green Paper).

The Green Paper will influence amendments to the Beach Control Act, which is the legislation governing the usage and preservation of the island’s beaches.