Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
THE 21-year-old Montego Bay Marine Park (MBMP) is now reeling from a lack of funds, which has triggered an acute staff shortage and the curtailing of a number of its core functions.
Hugh Shim, the executive director of the park, told The Gleaner that the organisation's work has been seriously affected by a lack of funding as they have only received close to $20 million of the $31 million budget that was submitted to the Government, through the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to police the marine resources in the city.
"Since my tenure began in July, we have had dwindling resources," said Shim. "The patrol boat and the vehicle are over 10 years old and are in a state of disrepair."
"We are short staffed, so rangers have to perform the duties of a science officer, an outreach officer and as senior ranger. Therefore, enforcement, scientific monitoring and public-awareness activities are being curtailed," added Shim, noting that they have only three rangers.
The marine park head said the organisation was now awaiting word from its principal donors as to when and how much it should be receiving to continue its work.
The MBMP executive director said despite the lack of resources, they still have to battle pollution from urban settlement and development and a general lack of knowledge and respect for environment.
However, Shim noted that the park is able to be kept 'afloat' from financial assistance received from NEPA, the Tourism Enhancement Fund and the Department of Fisheries; which is used to carry out limited work.
Shim said the marine park was working in conjunction with the fisherfolk to undertake repairs at the shipping village at River Bay Road, with the primary objective of establishing a restaurant there, which would provide employment for the fishermen and keep them out of the fish sanctuary.