Concerns raised over dredging of Falmouth Pier
A decision has been taken to further dredge the Falmouth Pier in the second quarter of this year. The dredging is to facilitate an expansion of the US$269 million pier, which was opened in March 2011.
Mervis Edghill, a senior vice-president of Engineering and Port Development, which has oversight responsibility for the project, said the expansion will allow the pier to simultaneously accommodate two of world's largest cruise ships.
"It will potentially increase annually the number of passengers docking at the pier by 300,000," said Edghill, who did not give a specific cost for the projected dredging for the expansion. "We are doing work on the Montego Bay and Ocho Rios piers as well, so this is part of a total package."
However, based on previous experiences with dredging operations, some business entities and residents in Falmouth are not overly enthused about the project.
"I believe the dredging will affect the fish sanctuary because of where will be dredged," said Fritz Christie of the Trelawny Fishermen's Association. "I also believe it will have a negative effect on the nearby luminous lagoon, possibly hurting the livelihood of the boat operators," noted Christie.
HARMFUL TO BUSINESS
Rose Bernard, the co-manager at Glistening Waters Resort, which is likely to be impacted by the operation, said in the previous dredging, no barriers were put in place to prevent muddy water flooding the lagoon, which was harmful to the business.
"When this (dredging) happens, we do not get a true picture of the luminous quality of the lagoon," said Bernard. "We market this location to clients, telling them they can swim in the water and have their bodies covered with the organisms that give off the phosphorescent light. The muddy water does not facilitate this. Unless a protective barrier is put in place, our business will suffer severely."
However, Elizabeth Mondon of Smith Warner International Limited, the company responsible for the dredging, downplayed the view that it will have a negative impact on the fish sanctuary or the lagoon.
"The proposed dredge slope and basin consisted mainly of non-living substrate, particularly silt with microalgae being the dominant living substrate type," said Mondon. "Fish diversity and abundance were low and no sea grass species were found in the proposed dredge area."
Mondon also explained that minimisation of sediment plume during dredging operations will be done using turbidity barriers.