Jamaica Inn Foundation leads drive to establish White River Fish Sanctuary
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.
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.
Area for the proposed White River Fish Sanctuary.