Fri | Dec 8, 2023

Beach access a fundamental right

Published:Tuesday | August 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM

I recently read an opinion piece by Carolyn Cooper titled: “J$13,000 a year to license Puerto Seco Beach!’ 
As an Antiguan, I was flabbergasted to read that Jamaicans have to pay to enjoy the use of beaches in their country. In Antigua, ALL beaches are, by Law, FREE to the public, whether there is a hotel development there or not. Any developer who plans to enhance any of the beaches must make provisions for public access as part of those developmental plans.
The question of beach access has been a vexing one throughout the Caribbean. A similar problem exists in Canouan, a part of St Vincent and the Grenadines, where a developer has had the gall to assert that locals have use of the beach - but from the sea. Access is ‘granted’ in one of three ways: (i) by paying a hefty fee; (ii) if you have a ‘friend’ who can get you through the gates of the resort; or (iii) rent a boat that can moor offshore, then swim to the beach, which is wholly unacceptable.
A Jamaican developer tried to get the Antiguan government to grant him permission for a beach project, on one of our finest beaches. The trouble is, he wanted to make the beach exclusive to his guests, and no politician who is worth his/her salt would ever entertain such a request. After much public protest against the project, it died a natural death.
For the record, harassment on our beaches is not an issue on Antigua. Both locals and tourists have found a way to enjoy the beach without the exclusion or diminution of each other's right so to do. 
It seems that investment in Jamaica is at all costs, and to the exclusion and/or enjoyment of locals. This is untenable, as beach access should be a fundamental right of every citizen.