Ja­maica Inn Foun­da­tion leads drive to es­tab­lish White River Fish Sanc­tu­ary

Jamaica Gleaner - - HOSPITALITY JAMAICA - Carl Gilchrist Hos­pi­tal­ity Ja­maica Writer

JA­MAICA INN, through its char­ity arm Ja­maica Inn Foun­da­tion, is play­ing a ma­jor role in en­vi­ron­men­tal preser­va­tion in the White River area of Ocho Rios.

The foun­da­tion has re­sponded to over­tures from fish­er­men at White River, on the St Ann/St Mary border, and is lead­ing the way in es­tab­lish­ing the White River Fish Sanc­tu­ary.

Cit­ing de­clin­ing fish pop­u­la­tion, fish­er­men at White River ini­ti­ated plans to es­tab­lish the White River Fish Sanc­tu­ary and sought help from the ho­tel.

Just re­cently, the in­au­gu­ral Ocho Rios Backgammon Tour­na­ment was held at the ho­tel to raise money to help fund the bud­get, which in­cludes a US$100,000 set-up cost.

The fish­er­men have es­tab­lished a boundary that cov­ers 134 hectares to es­tab­lish the sanc­tu­ary, a project fully en­dorsed by the Fish­eries De­part­ment and Na­tional En­vi­ron­ment Plan­ning Agency.

It is be­ing fash­ioned off the Ora­cabessa Fish Sanc­tu­ary, which is yield­ing suc­cess.

Apart from de­clin­ing fish pop­u­la­tion, co­ral cov­er­age has also de­clined 85 per cent since 1970.

The sanc­tu­ary, dubbed the ‘500 in 5’ project, aims to achieve a 500 per cent in­crease in fish stock in five years.

IN­CREASED COV­ER­AGE

Us­ing a re­sults-based com­mu­nityled ap­proach as pi­o­neered by Ora­cabessa Fish Sanc­tu­ary, it is ex­pected that the fish biomass will in­crease by 1,700 per cent, co­ral cov­er­age by 147 per cent and al­gae cov­er­age down by 45 per cent.

Belinda Mor­row, a mem­ber of the fam­ily that owns Ja­maica Inn, told Hos­pi­tal­ity Ja­maica that the sanc­tu­ary will ex­tend from just east of Ocho Rios proper to Prospect in St Mary.

“Here in Ocho Rios, we have tourists, we have fish­er­men, and those are the two liveli­hoods we want to sus­tain,” Mor­row pointed out.

“Fish­er­men’s liveli­hood is go­ing down; they have come to us and say, you know, the fish are get­ting smaller, we saw in Ora­cabessa sanc­tu­ary that the fish are get­ting big­ger, how can we make it hap­pen here? They came to a third party and say, can you help us?

“Fish­er­men, Ja­maica Inn and Her­mosa Cove have been the team that has been work­ing to­gether, along with help from Ora­cabessa Fish Sanc­tu­ary, to cre­ate a fish sanc­tu­ary here in Ocho Rios.”

Mean­while, Gen­eral Man­ager Kyle Mais, in un­der­lin­ing the im­por­tance of the project, has hailed the spon­sors of the backgammon tour­na­ment, in­clud­ing main spon­sors Ja­maica Na­tional, for their sup­port.

“We were look­ing for an in­ter­est­ing event where we could at­tract more of cor­po­rate Ja­maica and backgammon had be­come very pop­u­lar, es­pe­cially in Kingston,” he said in ex­plain­ing the rea­son for choos­ing backgammon.

“The ini­tia­tive is, of course, for rais­ing funds to go to­wards our fish­ing sanc­tu­ary project, which is an ex­tremely im­por­tant project for us here in Ocho Rios.”

The tour­na­ment was won by Wil­liam Mah­food who beat Ryan Lowe in the fi­nal, while Bruce Hart de­feated An­drew Mah­food for third place.

Mort­gage sales ex­ec­u­tive from Ja­maica Na­tional, Tif­fany Gor­don, speak­ing at the prize-giv­ing, said the tour­na­ment goes be­yond bringing like-minded peo­ple to­gether in one space; it is con­tribut­ing to a noble cause, the de­vel­op­ment of a fish sanc­tu­ary.

Wil­liam Mah­food (right) in ac­tion against Ryan Lowe.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

Area for the pro­posed White River Fish Sanc­tu­ary.

Kyle Mais

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