Sat | Dec 2, 2023

Gov’t to press for protection of ‘ecologically sensitive areas’

Published:Friday | September 2, 2022 | 12:06 AM
Matthew Samuda, the de facto minister of water.
Matthew Samuda, the de facto minister of water.

THE GOVERNMENT is to bring to Parliament very soon, a new legal designation for ‘ecologically sensitive areas’.

This will provide a greater level of protection for areas with particular environmental sensitivities.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda, gave details at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)/National Environment and Planning Agency knowledge-sharing workshop on marine plastic litter, held at Hotel Four Seasons on August 31.

“Several of [these] will be ocean-based,” Samuda said.

The Government has already identified 16 such areas, nine of which will be in the coastal zone. The Great Bay Area in southwest St Elizabeth, and the Dry Harbour Area in St Ann are earmarked for protection.

The minister also pointed out that the Black River Morass has been declared a protected area, adding that “in the coming weeks, we will be able to carry to Parliament the gazette [for] the protection of the Pedro Cays”.

Meanwhile, Samuda said the Government has supported the call to develop a legally binding treaty to tackle plastic pollution.

“We intend to work with our neighbours in the Caribbean to ensure that small island developing states (SIDS) are well represented, to ensure that what comes out of that treaty benefits us,” he emphasised.

For his part, Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica Masaya Fujiwara, said Japan supports the environment and climate-change agenda for CARICOM, because environmental protection is an area that “we recognise as highly important”.

He noted that marine litter within the coastal waters is alarming and has had a significant impact on marine ecosystems, industries such as tourism and fisheries, and on human health.

“So, from this perspective, Japan will continue to provide technical assistance to developing countries to achieve the ‘Osaka Blue Ocean Vision’, which aims to reduce additional pollution from marine plastic waste to zero by the year 2050, through a comprehensive life-cycle approach,” Ambassador Fujiwara stated.

“Fundamentally, plastic waste management is one of the most urgent issues to be addressed. That is why Japan and like-minded countries, such as Jamaica, St Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and Guyana, are seriously working together to tackle environmental issues, as well as damage to biodiversity and natural resources,” he added.

The ambassador noted that in this current era, there is absolute need to have information and knowledge of plastic litter management, as well as relevant policies and strategic partnerships in place, but that this can only be achieved if coherent action is taken.

“From this perspective, Japan, through JICA, has taken action to provide technical support in the Caribbean region. I believe the convening of this information and knowledge-sharing workshop is important and very timely, in that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the use of disposable plastic products, such as masks, protective clothing and face guards,” he said.

The objective of this workshop is to share information and knowledge of plastic waste management, especially in terms of the efforts that five targeted Caribbean countries have been putting in to tackle plastic waste as a part of solid-waste management, and the status of the pilot projects to address issues of plastic waste in Jamaica and St Lucia.