Montego Bay Marine Protected Areas
Montego Bay is the proud host of three Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): the Montego Bay Marine Park, the Bogue Island Lagoon Special Fishery Conservation Area (Bogue Lagoon) and the Montego Bay Marine Park Special Fishery Conservation Area (Airport Point). These areas encompass over 15 square kilometers of mixed use coast habitat, and benefit from comprehensive legal protection that regulates acceptable use. At their heart, these MPAs seek to balance the social and economic needs of the community while safeguarding precious national resources for future generations. Administered by the National Environmental Protection Agency and the Fisheries Division, these resources are managed on a day-to-day basis by the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust.
Montego Bay Marine Park
What is a Marine Park?
Fish Sanctuaries (officially known as Special Fishery Conservation Areas) are established under the Fishing Industry Act of Jamaica and carry strict regulations regarding access and use. The most obvious is the prohibition from collecting fish or any other living organism from within its boundaries. Because of this designation, the Trust treats these Sanctuaries as no-take zones. Currently, Montego Bay has two gazetted (signed into law) Special Fishery Conservation Areas. These include: the Bogue Lagoon Fish Sanctuary (1979); and the more recently established Montego Bay Marine Park Fish Sanctuary (2009).
It is illegal to fish within an SFCA without the expressed written permission from the Minister of Government. Persons found in violation are subject to arrest, fines and confiscation of equipment.
In 2004, the Trust launched the Sustainable Fisheries Management project “Fish Cyaan Done!” (named after the misguided belief that fish stocks can never be depleted). This project emphasized the productive value of fish sanctuaries (see the children’s educational production “Angel’s Forever” – and established a first-of-its-kind fishing permitting program in Jamaica.
The project also generated community support for uniform and comprehensive enforcement to ensure an even playing field for fishermen.
A sustainable future?
To develop the plan, the IDB employed a multidisciplinary approach to dismantling the main roadblocks to environmental, urban and fiscal sustainability.
If enacted, “One Bay For All”, promises to put the city of Montego Bay on a more secure footing, while reducing chief stressors on the park (such as land based sources of pollution).
Pier One Complex
Howard Cooke Boulevard
Montego Bay, St. James
Phone: (876) 952-5619
The Park Headquarters is open to the public during standard business hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Monday – Friday.
Rules and Regulations
Numerous laws have been enacted in support of the protection and sustainable use of coastal resources in Montego Bay. Our job is to ensure that visitors to the park are aware of and follow these regulations.
A comprehensive list of other relevant laws can be found on the NEPA website, including:
- Marine Park Order (1992) – Established the Montego Bay Marine Park
- Beach Control Regulations (1956) and Amendment
- Permits and Licenses Regulations and Amendment for permits associated with research activities within the park. *Refer to Fishing Industry Act Regulations for additional permitting requirements within Special Fisher Conservation Areas.
Commonly cited regulations*
The Marine Park Regulations are designed to protect Jamaica’s Marine Parks from environmental degradation.
*Current schedule fines subject to change: check NEPA website for complete and current regulations.
REFUSING TO OBEY ORDERS
Anybody who, “refuses or fails to produce any license or permit that he is required to produce by an authorized officer,” is committing an offense against the regulations of the Marine Park.
A person may not refuse to leave the Marine Park when ordered to do so by a ranger, and similarly may not remove, alter or interfere with any article seized under the regulations of the Marine Park, without the authority of an authorized officer.
It is also an offense to impersonate a Ranger of the Marine Park. Anybody who commits an offense against this regulation can be fined up to $5,000.00 JMD or imprisoned for up to 12 months.
Permits are issued by the Natural Resources Conservation Authority for the research or collection of natural objects and/or specimens of marine life, for educational, scientific or industrial purposes. An application shall be done in writing, and shall be transmitted through the Manager of the Montego Bay Marine Park.
The written request shall contain information about the type of research and the natural objects or specimens in the application.
The application shall also go into detail about the methods to be employed in carrying out the research and in collecting objects and specimens. It is also important to include the estimated cost of the research in the written request.
When the Authority refuses to grant a permit under this regulation, it is responsible for informing the applicant of the reasons for the refusal. The applicant has the right to appeal.
Anybody who, “carries out any form of research or collects any objects or specimens in the marine park without a permit issued under this regulation,” will be breaking the law. The penalty for this offence is a fine not exceeding $10,000.00 or a prison term with or without hard labour for no more than two years.
A person who commits an offence against this regulation, “is liable on summary conviction before a Resident Magistrate to a fine not exceeding $5,000.00 or to imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding two years.”
It is an offence against the rules and regulations of the Marine Park to, “obstruct, disturb, interrupt or annoy any other person engaged in the proper use of the marine park.” The regulations also prohibit behaving in a manner likely to create a disturbance.
It is against the law to deface, paint, write, cut names or letters, or otherwise make marks or put up bills on trees, rocks, gates, fences, buildings, signs or other property in the Marine Park.
Any person who breaks this regulation may be fined as much as $5,000.00, or put in prison, with or without hard labour, for as long as 12 months.
EXPLOSIVES AND DANGEROUS WEAPONS
It is against the law to, “discharge or have in (your) possession in a marine park any air rifle or other firearm, spring gun, sling, bang sticks, spear guns, harpoons, or any other weapon which is potentially harmful to fish or wild life or to the reef structure and dangerous to human safety.
It is also illegal to have in one’s possession any explosives in a marine park. The penalty for this offence is a fine of $10,000.00 or a prison term not exceeding 12 months.
If this regulation is broken, the penalty is a fine of $5,000.00 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months.