Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Robert Montague, says the Government is implementing legislative measures aimed at supporting a sustainable Blue Economy as a key driver of economic growth.
He cited the recent passage of the Ballast Water Management Convention Act, aimed at preventing ships entering Jamaica’s waters from introducing foreign aquatic species and diseases into the marine environment; the Fisheries Act to reduce overfishing and unregulated fishing practices; and the Petrojam Bill, which will enable necessary improvements to the oil refinery in order to meet International Maritime Organization (IMO) standards for 2020.
The Minister was speaking at the High Level Symposium for Transport Ministers of the Caribbean Region at the Iberostar Hotel in Rose Hall, St. James, on February 27.
The Blue Economy refers to the utilisation of the ocean resources for economic benefits, while ensuring the future health or productivity of those same resources. It includes tourism; shipping; commercial fishing; activities in the oil, gas, minerals and mining industries; among others.
With over 90 per cent of Jamaica’s trade conducted by sea, Mr. Montague said the Government recognises the importance of the Blue Economy in spurring economic growth and development.
In addition, 61 per cent of the population lives in communities within five kilometers of the coast, and the island’s two major cities, Kingston and Montego Bay, as well as 10 of Jamaica’s 14 parish capitals, are all located along the coast.
“For Jamaica, the ocean is an invaluable resource that is full of potential for economic growth and job creation. In most cases, the ocean spaces over which we have jurisdiction are many times larger than the land mass of the countries. In Jamaica’s case, the exclusive economic zone is 23 times our land mass,” Mr. Montague pointed out.
The Minister noted that one of the objectives of Vision 2030: Jamaica’s national development plan, is the sustainable management and use of marine resources.
“One of the major institutional reforms to manage the sustainable use of these resources has been the establishment of the National Council on Ocean and Coastal Zone Management. It’s a subcommittee of Cabinet tasked with formulating and coordinating maritime sector policies and promoting public awareness of the importance of the maritime resources to sustainable development,” he noted.
Minister Montague also pointed to support given to the premier university in the region, the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), which treats with marine matters and the Blue Economy.
The meeting of Caribbean Transport Ministers sought to examine and find solutions to the challenges faced by States in ensuring the preservation of the marine environment on which they are heavily dependent.
It also identified strategies to assist countries in meeting their obligations under the IMO Instruments to which they are party, particularly those relating to marine environmental protection, and liability and compensation.