We’ve been on the road since October visiting the Big Up Wi Beach network of Jamaican community managed beaches. On the first leg of our road trip, we caught up with three beach network partners from phase I of Jamaica Environment Trust’s (JET’s) Better Beaches for Jamaicans (BBFJ) project. In November we visited four of the five community managed beaches added to the Big Up Wi Beach network in 2019 – Wickie Wackie in St Andrew, Belmont Beach in Westmoreland, Treasure Beach in St Elizabeth and Rio Nuevo in St Mary.
The JET team delivered a workshop on beach conservation and management to the community groups managing their local beach during each visit. The workshop included interactive sessions on beach access rights, basic business administration, customer service, environmental conservation and beach safety and sanitation.
Our first stop was Wickie Wackie on the reef, in Bull Bay St. Andrew where we met with the Wickie Wackie Citizen’s Association. The Association was keen to discuss their plans to develop the beach as focal point for community activities. They have already hosted several beach cleanups and other events on the dark sand beach, which they adopted in April 2019. Exciting things are in the works for Wickie Wackie, and we look forward to supporting the community in their efforts.
Wickie Wackie on the reef, St. Andrew
After visiting Wickie Wackie in the east, we travelled west to Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth. The Treasure Beach coastline is home to several public beaches - Calabash Bay, Billy’s Bay, Frenchman’s Bay, Great Bay and Old Wharf – which are popular spots for both Jamaicans and tourists. Some of the beaches are both fishing beaches and bathing beaches. Treasure Beach is home to several community based organizations and NGOS who were eager to hear what the JET team had to say and engaged in a lively discussion about their beaches. The Treasure Beach community takes pride in their beaches and groups are working to improve solid waste and sewage management, and reduce coastal erosion, with JET’s guidance.
Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth
We then travelled even further west to Bluefields in Westmoreland, where we met with the Bluefields Bay Fishermen’s Friendly Society (BBFFS) and Bluefields Bay Community Association at the Belmont Fishing Beach. The beach was buzzing with activity when we arrived – fishers bringing in their catch and repairing their nets and fish pots. The beach is surrounded by mangroves and features a boardwalk for visitors to explore sections of the wetland. Belmont Beach is also a hub for local boat tours and is the home of the BBFFS, who manage the Bluefields Bay Fish Sanctuary. Participants in the Bluefields workshop voiced their concerns about how coastal developments are impacting the marine environment and restricting access to local beaches.
Belmont Fishing Beach, Westmoreland
The final stop on our road trip in 2019 took us to Rio Nuevo, a fishing beach in St. Mary. The Rio Nuevo Fishers Association was eager to learn about beach conservation and advocacy and voiced their concerns about how industrial activities nearby have affected the beach and livelihood of fishermen in recent years.
Rio Nuevo, St. Mary
Next Stop: Red Cross Beach and Alloa Beach in Discovery Bay, St. Ann in January 2020!