Thu | Mar 21, 2019

We have a responsibility to maintain the biodiversity of the planet

Published:Saturday | February 16, 2019 | 12:16 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

There are several dolphin interaction facilities already in Jamaica. Why more?

The risk this activity places on an already overexploited Discovery Bay is very serious. Discovery Bay is already heavily contaminated due to decades of bauxite dust, (I know this from all the work I did out of Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory (DBML) in 1979-82), cesspit seepage, road washings, plastic waste, overfishing, and population growth.

Added to all these negative influences, the enclosed natural topography of Discovery Bay limits natural circulation and flushing of water. There is some freshwater upwelling, but this is not sufficient to keep the bay clear of pollution. DBML should have heaps of data on this collected over many years since the 1980s.

Now the addition of more food waste and animal waste from the DIF will negatively affect water quality, clarity, coral, and seagrass recovery as you have indicated. Trap fishing all around the island has severely reduced the population of fish grazers: parrot fish, surgeon fish, and tangs. Which is why the fish sanctuary was set up in the first place.

Overnutrification causes algal blooms, and without the grazers, algal growth will continue unchecked. End result is a desert like the bottom of Kingston Harbour. We have seen this happen in so many places in the Caribbean, you would have thought that developers and regulators would know the difference between right and wrong.

There is so much scientific information out there now about what activities are sustainable and what are not and how to take better care of the marine environment from which they all derive their livelihood. They should listen to people like Peter Gayle! While I was in Ocho Rios a couple of weeks ago, I spent hours snorkelling in the new White River Fish Sanctuary.

Heartening developments

I was heartened to see so many juvenile parrot fish, doctor fish, etc, and even a few snappers. The key here is the good management in place and constant enforcement by the local fishermen who initiated the sanctuary.

Education of the local population, particularly the school children, is an integral part of the long-term recovery process.

However, I was disheartened to hear reports of spear fishermen operating at night in this sanctuary and threatening the wardens!

It is our collective responsibility to conserve the marine environment and to maintain the biodiversity of the planet.

GUY HARVEY

Marine wildlife artist

and conservationist