Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Gleaner Editors' Forum | The bight now has its boats - C-CAM positioned for exciting future

Published:Sunday | August 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
Board chairman of C-CAM, Thera Edwards (left), in talks with other members of the entity before the start of a Gleaner Editors’ Forum last week. The other C-CAM representatives are (from second left) Deborah Anzinger, Ingrid Parchment, Angeli Williams, Donovan Brandon Hay, and Dr Karl Aiken.

Seven years after it was dubbed 'A bight without a boat', the Clarendon-based Caribbean Coastal Management (C-CAM) Foundation now has more than one boat, and it is confident that it is now positioned to deal with present and future challenges.

The non-governmental, development and environmental organisation works with communities to develop sustainable livelihoods and manages the fish sanctuaries in the Portland Bight area of Jamaica.

In 2010, C-CAM signed an agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries to manage three fish sanctuaries within Portland Bight, Jamaica's largest environmental conservation area, but was not equipped to carry out its mandate effectively.

At that time, Ingrid Parchment, executive director of C-CAM, told The Sunday Gleaner that the objectives of the proposed project were being undermined by the lack of funding and equipment.

"For example, we don't have a boat. We don't own a boat, and how can you properly monitor fish sanctuaries without a boat? So we are trying to get a boat and hoping that somebody will give us the funds to do it, or will actually give us a boat or an engine so that would allow us to do that," Parchment said then.


In calmer waters


Seven years later, Parchment is singing a different tune, and at a Gleaner Editors Forum last Thursday to mark its 20th year of operation, Parchment and other members of C-CAM were upbeat as the entity has sailed into calmer waters.

Thera Edwards, who chairs the board of C-CAM, told the forum that while the organisation has faced rough times in the past it has now moved from a staff of two to 25, although 40 would be ideal.

With field and regular offices, C-CAM is looking to extend its reach for greater impact, and Edwards said collaboration with other NGOs is part of the vision in its 20th year.

"We have gone under and bobbed up our heads but we have not drowned, and we are actually making a few strokes, we are beginning to really swim. It's not that we have not known hard and very perilous times, with many of our staff working without pay, because of what they committed to, and certainly it's a board without pay," said Edwards.

Among the achievements listed by C-CAM over the past 20 years is its agreement with the Natural Resources Conservation Authority to allow it to get funding on its own.

According to Edwards, this year C-CAM will launch its ecotourism platform, and the Portland Bight Discovery Centre will provide the hub for activities.

"It's a hub for our ecotourism and public-education activities, with a focus on climate change and how our communities within the Portland Bight area are affected.

"We have public-education materials and an audiovisual centre where students can come and learn more about the protected area itself," said Angeli Williams, who manages the centre.

Williams said a turtle and dipping pond, and boat dock for tours through the mangroves are part of the activities to promote greater appreciation for the environment rather than students reading about them from the pages of a book.

She added that a significant portion of what is taught in geography classes will be available in practical terms for the students.

The centre is expected to be fully operational by the end of September and open to the public, schools and communities in the area.