Fisherfolk: Include us in the MoBay development plans
Fisherfolk at the River Bay Fishing Village in Montego Bay, St James, are unhappy with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), which, they say, is not forthcoming with what plans are in place to integrate the village into the multimillion-dollar upgrade and boardwalk project planned for the Second City.
According to the fisherfolk, the village has the potential to be a major attraction, but the authorities have been mum on whether the village, which is an integral part of the general landscape, will be included in the development.
"We hear talk of a boardwalk coming across the coastline and a restoration initiative, but we have not heard any official word coming to us, as a recognised organisation, on how we can be incorporated into what the UDC is doing," said Curtis Hylton, vice-chairman for the Montego Fishermen's Cooperative Society.
"No one has come over here to have dialogue in terms of the development that is afoot," continued Hylton. "So, we need some dialogue, some communi-cation; and we need to know what road map they have for the coastal development and what it is going to be."
The fisherfolk told The Gleaner that the fishing village, which is located in proximity to Howard Cooke Boulevard, sits on two acres of land on the waterfront and has more than 90 registered members. It is one of the most recognised fishing villages in Jamaica.
The fisherfolk believe that, with their input, the village could be transformed into a major attraction for locals and tourists alike.
"We have several plans for the village ... a plan to build a boat-building facility and restaurants," said Hylton. "We intend to design shop spaces, extend the bathroom facilities, create a workshop to fix and modify boat engines, and establish a museum on property to view certain sea artefacts."
When the UDC was contacted for a comment, the government agency responded with a release in which it stated that the village was under consideration for development and that it had previously had discussions with various stakeholders.
"It is one of the projects to be incorporated into the overall waterfront redevelopment for Montego Bay. Early discussions were held with the Montego Bay Fishermen's Cooperative during the 2010-12 period," the UDC statement outlined. "The UDC, in looking at its assets, from Catherine Hall through to Gun Point Beach, carried out a series of preliminary stakeholder sessions. The outcome of the conversation, which was to incorporate and upgrade the fishing village, has informed the overall development plan."