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Montego Bay Marine Park Trust wants powers of arrest

Published:Friday | August 5, 2016 | 8:00 AMOkoye Henry
Hugh Shim

WESTERN BUREAU:

The Montego Bay Marine Park Trust (MBMPT) is calling for its environmental officers to be granted powers of arrest.

The call has come against the background of the Jamaica Environment Trust's (JET) recently released findings in a study conducted on the South Gully in Montego Bay, St James. The study cited condoms and human waste among the major pollutants that were being dumped in the gully and later swept into the sea.

Malik Qasim, engineer and maintenance officer at the MBMPT, said an additional measure is to give environmental officers powers of arrest.

Qasim said representation has been made to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to take steps to provide the MBMPT with the powers of prosecution.

NO REAL POWER

"We have tried a lot to stop persons from littering the gully, but the problem with us is that we are only game wardens or environmental officers ... and we don't really have the power to arrest persons found in breach," Qasim explained.

"Because if you approach someone, they may take a stone hit you down, and what are you going to do then when we have nothing to defend ourselves with? You have to know how to approach certain people," he added.

The Montego Bay Marine Park was declared Jamaica's first marine park in Jamaica in June 1992. The MBMPT is a local environmental non-governmental organisation that has been the primary local steward in the management of the facility since 1991. The trust's operations have been co-funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Authority since September 2010, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between both organisations.

Quasim told The Gleaner that street people, prostitutes, and persons such as conductors and 'backup men', who utilise the Montego Bay Transportation Centre, are those mostly found in breach.

"They are the guys who often come across to the mouth of South Gully and use the whole coastline as a toilet. Persons use the Dump Up Beach area in a similar manner," he said.

JET has also listed recommendations to curb the littering of the gully. Among these are greater enforcement of anti-dumping laws; increased frequency of collection; greater clarity on which state agency is responsible for gully maintenance; and the establishment of a regular and well-publicised gully-cleaning schedule.

An ocean litter containment boom was constructed at the mouth of the South Gully last year to capture debris.

Hugh Shim, executive director of the Montego Bay Marine Park, reports that on average, 116 pounds of garbage is collected each month.

okoye.henry@gleanerjm.com