Jamaica is one of the 8 founding countries of ICRI.
Jamaica’s varied and irregular coastline is 1,022 km long and is characterized by a variety of ecosystems which include harbours, bays, beaches, rocky shores, estuaries, mangrove swamps, cays and coral reefs. As an archipelagic state, Jamaica has stewardship over a marine space 24 times its land area of 10,981 km2, and an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of approximately 235,000 km2. The island has 1240 km2 of coral reef with about 64 hard coral species, 43 soft coral species and 8 black coral species.
Fringing, patch and barrier reefs surround just over 50% of jamaica’s shoreline within 50 m from shore. Its fringing reefs are broadly distributed along a narrow 1-2 km shelf on the northern coastline and to a lesser degree on the broader 20 km wide southern shelf. Reefs and corals can also be found on the two largest offshore banks; Pedro Cays and Banks located approximately 80 km south south-west of the island and Morant Cays and Banks approximately 60 km to the south east.
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is the environmental regulatory agency for Jamaica and became operational on April 1, 2001. NEPA represents a merger between the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA), the Town Planning Department (TPD) and the Land Development and Utilization Commission (LDUC). The aim of the merger was to integrate environmental, planning and sustainable development policies and programmes and to improve customer service.
The mission of the Agency is to promote sustainable development by ensuring protection of the environment and orderly development in Jamaica through highly motivated staff performing at the highest standard.
NEPA operates under the following Acts:
Number of MPAs: 5
Palisadoes - Port Royal. 22/04/05; Kingston; 7,523 ha; 17º55'N 076º49'W. Protected area. Located on the southeastern coast just offshore from the capital Kingston, the site contains cays, shoals, mangrove lagoons, mangrove islands, coral reefs, seagrass beds and shallow water, thus hosting a variety of underrepresented wetland types. Endangered and vulnerable species occurring in the area include American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). To date 26 endemic new species have been discovered in the area. Historic and cultural values are very high, as the site includes forts on the dunes and part of the city of Port Royal, said to have been the largest city in the Americas, which sank in an earthquake in 1692 and is now a unique archaeological treasure. A management plan is in place, and the University of the West Indies operates research facilities. Ramsar site no. 1454.
Portland Bight Wetlands and Cays. 02/02/06; St. Catherine, Clarendon; 24,542 ha; 17º49'N 077º04'W. Protected Area. Located on the south coast of the island, just west of Kingston, Portland Bight (or bay) includes some 8,000 ha of coastal mangroves, among the largest contiguous mangrove stands remaining in Jamaica, as well as a salt marsh, several rivers, offshore cays, coral reefs, seagrass beds, and open water. The site constitutes a critical feeding and breeding location as well as a general habitat for internationally threatened species such as the cave frog (Eleutherodactylus cavernicola), the Jamaican boa (Epicrates subflavus), the endemic hutia or coney (Geocapromys brownii), and the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus). An endemic cactus (Opuntia jamaicensis) is also considered endangered under CITES. More than 3,000 fisher families make their livelihoods in the Bight, harvesting mostly finfish but also lobster, shrimp, oysters, and conch, and there are important sugar plantations in the surrounding area. Threats are feared from over-hunting and -fishing, pollution from sugar wastes, mangrove destruction for aquaculture, and invasive species. Ramsar site No. 1597.
Last Updated: 11 August 2016