THE EDITOR, Sir:
I wish to correct the perception that persons concerned about the environment are opposed to development. Certainly, the Goat Islands are among Jamaica's many undeveloped treasures and the country would benefit tremendously if they were properly developed. However, if an inappropriate development strategy is employed, the net economic benefit could, in fact, be negative for the country.
Since the Portland Bight Protected Area has been identified as a major component in the life cycle of all the marine life on the south coast, an appropriate development strategy would involve investments with minimum impact on this cycle.
Appropriate investments would include tourism and other lifestyle investments that actually pay to enjoy this kind of biodiversity. An investment that would involve dredging would do irreparable damage to this ecosystem.
In the current investment proposal, who will bear the cost of the lost livelihood to the persons who currently depend on this marine life? Who will bear the possible costs if the imbalance that results in the dislocation of marine life causes major outbreaks of mosquito-related diseases?
Who will bear the costs if the impacted marine life causes a reduction in the coastal protection of the reefs and mangroves leading to major loss of life and property, in the event of a hurricane? Who will bear the cost if Panama's current investment makes Jamaica's planned logistics hub uncompetitive and we are left with a major edifice, like the bauxite companies, sitting underutilised in the middle of a dead sea?
If these costs are not being borne by the investor, not only is the investment inappropriate, but another of Jamaica's treasures is being woefully undervalued.
The prime minister highlighted a number of developments that have already been made at great environmental cost. Logic would assume that the logistics hub would be best located in one of these areas, namely, the Kingston Harbour.
It has been suggested that the Goat Islands were identified as ideal by the investors. However, would they still consider them ideal if they were valued appropriately by the Government of Jamaica? The fact that we currently don't have an appropriate investor for the Goat Islands is not a good enough justification.
KELLIE ANN MURRAY