Posts from category "Wi Beach Blog"

Back to the Beach!

On June 7, 2020 beaches across Jamaica re-opened to the public after a period of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Patrons and beach managers alike were excited to return to Jamaican beaches as it is one of the few places that a variety of activities can be done safely, at a distance. Beach re-opening protocol allowed the opening of beaches and rivers between the hours of 6:00 am and 6:00 pm, limiting groups to ten people in one section of the beach for the purpose of sunbathing only. 

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Source: Tampa Bay Times (tampabay.com)

In May, we conducted community site visits to the Better Beaches for Jamaican (BBFJ) partner beaches and noticed that all beaches island-wide were closed to sunbathing, events and other commercial activities.  We observed empty beaches, and received reports of increased wildlife such as more fish close to shore and birds on the beaches. The JET team caught up with community beach partners from Duncans Bay Beach in Trelawny, Winnifred Beach in Portland, and Peach Beach in St. Ann to find out what their experience has been like since beach re-opening in June. 

During the beach closure, our Duncans Bay Community Beach partners observed an increase in out-of-town visitors to the beach, which is usually frequently by community members. This increase was thought to be due to the closure of other commercial public beaches along the coast. Since beaches have re-opened, less people are visiting the beach overall than before the pandemic. This may be due to the downturn in the economy and reduced disposable income. 

 

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Duncans Beach, Trelawny

It seems visitors could not wait to get back to the warm sand and beautiful seaside, based on reports from the beach managers of Winnifred Beach in Portland. Since re-opening, weekends are just as busy as they were earlier in the year, prior to the outbreak. Beach goers are also happy to implement safety protocol outlined by the Government of Jamaica. 

 

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Winnifred Beach, Portland

While there have been reports of crowded beaches and rivers in June and July, at Peach Beach in St. Ann, people have been seen wearing their masks on the beach while maintaining their social distance from other small groups occupying the beach. There have been no issues with crowding. Small signs could be seen at the beach, informing visitors of the new protocol. 

 

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Peach Beach, St. Ann

The re-opening experience for these three beaches have been positive, however many beaches and rivers are over-crowded on weekends, prompting the Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, to warn beach and river management and visitors alike, that if protocol is not observed stricter control measures would be put in place. 

As we retreat to the beach during this Emancipendence period, let us remember to enjoy the beach but stay safe!

Jamaican Beaches Respond to COVID-19

As Jamaicans retreated to their homes because of the COVID-19 outbreak in March, the environment responded. Over the following months reports started coming in from around the world about clearer waterways, better air quality and more wildlife sightings.  In Jamaica, our beaches have had a break from being host to human activities such as fishing, sunbathing, parties and games.

In Discovery Bay, St Ann the closure of places of amusement resulted in captive dolphins being removed from a facility in the bay in March 2020. Our community beach management partners in the area report that clearer water and more schools of fish have been observed as a result. Wild dolphins have also not been seen in the bay as frequently.

 

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Discovery Bay, St Ann (March 2020)

Rae Town Fishing Village in Kingston reports the harbour being clearer than usual since March 2020. Some of these changes might be because of reduced movement of people and economic activity in Kingston.  The drought Jamaica has been experiencing over the past few weeks may also play a factor, which is keeping the garbage in Kingston’s gullies from washing to the sea. Whatever the reason, fishermen welcome the change.

Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth reports that more bird life has been observed in the area since the closure of Jamaica’s borders due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The pace of life in the area has changed, resulting from less tourist activity. More birds are being seen on beaches since they are no longer being driven away or disturbed by humans.

 

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Great Bay, Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth (May 2020)

Bluefields, Westmoreland has observed a reduction in the amount of garbage washing into the mangroves in and around Belmont Fishing Beach. The Bluefields Bay Fishermans Friends Society conducted a beach cleanup in that area in February 2020, before the outbreak of the virus. During the cleanup activity, a great deal of garbage was removed from the mangroves including plastic bottles, food packaging and large appliances. Since then it has been observed that significantly less garbage has returned to the beach.

 

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Belmont Fishing Beach, Bluefields, Westmoreland (May 2020)

The changes on our beaches since the COVID-19 outbreak highlight the impact human activities have on our surroundings. As beaches reopen, now is the time to consider how we can permanently adopt some of the changes in our behaviour which have had a positive impact on the environment. The world has changed, and the environment responded.

Daydreaming of beach trips....

Since mid-March the JET staff (Jetters) have been working from home, practicing social distancing as set out by the Government of Jamaica, in an attempt to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

In this month’s blog we will be sharing with you some of the Jetters favourite beaches as we daydream and begin planning for those post COVID-19 beach trips. Before you plan your next beach trip, check out the Big Up Wi Beach Guide by clicking on the link Beaches

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Big Up Wi Beach Road Trip - March Edition

In March 2020 the JET team took to the highways and visited our Big Up Wi Beach community partners Duncans Bay Beach in Trelawny, Alligator Pond in Manchester and Winnifred's Beach in Portland.

Our first stop was Duncans Bay Beach, where we met with Sandra and other community members. It was a great opportunity to see and hear about all the work and progress that they have been making in protecting their beach environment.

There was so much to see, from the welcoming sign that was made by the community group to the well-maintained lawns and the beautiful beach vegetation.

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Big Up Wi Beach Road Trip – Final Stop

In January 2020 JET kicked off the new year in Discovery Bay St Ann, where we delivered the last in our series of beach conservation and management workshops under the Better Beaches for Jamaicans Phase II project. Between November and December 2019 Big Up Wi Beach workshops had been delivered to community groups managing four of the five new beaches added to the project in 2019

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Shelly says Big Up Wi Beach!

Big Up Wi Beach has released its first public service announcement (PSA) on the importance of maintaining healthy beaches. In the PSA, Shelly, a hawksbill sea turtle explains how to keep beaches healthy by protecting different parts of the coastal environment – sand dunes, mangroves, coral reefs and seagrass beds – and the plants and animals which depend on them. 

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International Coastal Cleanup Day 2019 National Summary Report - Plastic bottles top the list!

The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) is expressing disappointment over last week’s announcement by Minister Daryl Vaz that the roll out of the planned deposit refund scheme (DRS) for plastic bottles is being delayed until 2021. Minister Vaz’s announcement came ahead of JET’s release of the results of last year’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day Jamaica activities, which identify plastic beverage bottles as the number one item collected by ICC volunteers for the twelfth consecutive year.

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Big Up Wi Beach Road Trip Part 2

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.

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Big Up Wi Beach Road Trip Part 1

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)

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Heading to the beach for Heroes’ weekend?

 

As with other public holidays in Jamaica, many take the opportunity of Heroes’ Day to head to the beach - after all, it’s a Jamaican tradition. While we unwind, kick back or party it up during this period, we must ensure that Jamaica’s beaches are kept healthy and can be enjoyed year after year. Here are four things to remember this Heroes’ Weekend when you go to the beach.

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