Over the past few months the team has been on the road catching up with our Big Up Wi Beach community beach partners. The Big Up Wi Beach Network of community managed beaches was established by the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) under phase I of the Better Beaches for Jamaicans Project. Since 2016 JET has been working closely with community groups managing their local beaches to improve beach stewardship. Winnifred Beach in Portland, Duncans Bay Beach in Trelawny and Alligator Pond in Manchester joined the network in 2017 and five other beaches have been added under BBFJ Phase II this year (stay tuned to hear more about them in our next blog - Big Up Wi Beach Road Trip Part 2)
Our road trip kicked off with a visit to Winnifred, a white sand beach tucked away in Fairy Hill, Portland. There we met with members of the community working on the beach to get their latest news. Since our last visit, cook shops and vendors have continued reducing the amount of garbage they generate at the beach, and do their very best to keep it clean! With the ban on Styrofoam scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2020, vendors have already begun adjusting their takeout packaging. Cynthia has been using reusable plates and utensils to serve food from her world-renowned seaside restaurant for years and now other vendors on the beach have joined her, making the switch from Styrofoam to reusable or biodegradable takeout containers. The Free Winnifred Beach Benevolent Society manages the beach and is leading charge to eliminate Styrofoam from Winnifred in 2020. The society has also successfully led the installation of new bathrooms and additional bins n the beach to help keep it healthy and clean.
The next stop on our road trip was the Duncans Bay Beach in Trelawny. Duncans Bay Beach is the pride of the Duncans Bay Citizens Association, who manage the daily operations of the beach. The beach is visited by community members and villa guests relax in its tranquil setting - quiet and picturesque with white sand, dunes covered in beach vines and bright blue sea. During our visit, community members told us their concerns about recent developments nearby, which have included the destruction of a section of wetland beside the beach to build a road.
Duncans Bay Beach, Trelawny
Our third stop took us to Alligator Pond in Manchester - a fishing village managed by the Alligator Pond Citizens Association. The long stretch of dark sand was bustling with activity when we arrived, as fishermen pulled in their haul. The beach is challenged with coastal erosion, inadequate garbage collection and turtle poaching. Since our last visit the Citizens Association has ramped up its efforts to work with community members and government agencies to address these issues. They have also been working with the local school to reduce turtle poaching.
Alligator Pond, Manchester
Up next: Big Up Wi Beach Road Trip Part 2 will chronicle our first series of BBFJ workshops with BBFJ phase II community beach partners