National Geographic

VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers

Menu

Saving Goat Islands, Jamaica

Text and photos by Robin Moore, Fellow at the International League of Conservation Photographers

Guardian of the Reptiles

“You’ve got to respect another life, so that the other life can respect yours,” says Booms, whose real name is Mr. Kenroy Williams, a young Jamaican who has devoted the past seven years of his life to protecting some of the rarest reptiles in the world, and the largest living land animal in the country; the critically endangered Jamaican iguana. “Some of my friends think I am crazy, when they hear that I am touching the iguanas and the crocodiles. But if they were here like me, they would understand, and they would do everything that I am doing”.

“Booms” cradles a young American crocodile, a threatened animal found during a nighttime search with flashlights in a mangrove lagoon in Portland Bight Protected Area.
“Booms” cradles a young American crocodile, a threatened animal found during a nighttime search with flashlights in a mangrove lagoon in Portland Bight Protected Area.

Booms grew up in Rae Town in the south side of Kingston before moving seven years ago to the Hellshire Hills, a corrugated landscape blanketed in limestone forest to the south of Kingston, to work with the head of the Jamaican iguana recovery group, Dr. Byron Wilson. In the hills of Hellshire Booms found his calling. “It’s easier living to me. Entirely. I love being here,” he says, pausing thoughtfully before adding, “I hate not being here.” As we sit in the shade of small field station, a 30 minute boat ride and 45 minute hike from the small coastal town of Port Royal, a six-foot long, leather-brown iguana with slate-blue hind legs ambles towards us, its tail scattering dust as it swings from side to side, and flumps onto the floor near our feet. I study the dinosaur-like creature – watching it watch me with ruby-red eyes – and feel honored to be in the presence of such an iconic and rare creature.

The critically endangered Jamaican iguana, Cyclura collie, was described as the “rarest lizard in the world” after its rediscovery in 1990. It has become a flagship for conservation in the West Indies and the subject of an international recovery program.
The critically endangered Jamaican iguana, Cyclura collie, was described as the “rarest lizard in the world” after its rediscovery in 1990. It has become a flagship for conservation in the West Indies and the subject of an international recovery program.

Back from the Brink

The Jamaican iguana is the main character in a story of chance, collaboration, and resurgence. At the start of last century the iguana was believed to survive only on Goat Islands, two cays a long stone’s throw from the Hellshire Hills. After the last individuals were seen in 1948, the iguana was thought to have gone extinct – until, in 1990, a hog hunter chanced upon a live individual in the limestone forests of Hellshire Hills. Further exploration revealed around 50 survivors of the “rarest lizard in the world” in the most undisturbed portions of the remotest reaches of the country.

Young Jamaican iguanas are raised in a facility in Kingston to see them through the most vulnerable months before being released back into the wild – a process known as “headstarting”.
Young Jamaican iguanas are raised in a facility in Kingston to see them through the most vulnerable months before being released back into the wild – a process known as “headstarting”.

Following its rediscovery the iguana became a flagship for conservation in the West Indies, and the focus of an international recovery program. A consortium of twelve zoos, spearheaded by the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas, built a headstart facility at Hope Zoo in Kingston to rear eggs and hatchlings brought from the wild. This process of “headstarting” involves rearing hatchling iguanas in captivity to release them back into the wild once they are big enough to ward off predators. Since the first release in 1997, 174 headstarted Jamaican iguanas have been set free into their native Hellshire Hills habitat, and researchers have confirmed that headstarted iguanas are breeding and nesting in the wild.

A Safe Haven?

A view from the Hellshire Hills of the Portland Bight Protected Area, containing one of the largest dry limestone forests in the Caribbean and the largest intact mangrove forest in the country.
A view from the Hellshire Hills of the Portland Bight Protected Area, containing one of the largest dry limestone forests in the Caribbean and the largest intact mangrove forest in the country.

The Jamaican iguana shares its home, a 187,515-hectare area containing one of the largest dry limestone forests in the Caribbean and the largest intact mangrove forest in the country, with some 20 globally threatened species. Recognizing the importance of the area as a national treasure, in 1999 the Jamaican government created the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA), the largest Protected Area in the country, encompassing the Hellshire Hills and Portland Ridge Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), defined by IUCN as “places of international importance for the conservation of biodiversity through protected areas and other governance mechanisms”. The area was deemed so special that it was under consideration as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, until last year when the government backtracked on the proposal, signifying an ominous change of plans for the area.

The Portland Bight Protected Area contains the largest intact mangrove forest in Jamaica.
The Portland Bight Protected Area contains the largest intact mangrove forest in Jamaica.

Despite being protected under four laws and containing two forest reserves, six game sanctuaries, and three fish sanctuaries, the government announced in August that it was engaged in negotiations to sell Goat Islands to the China Harbour Engineering Company (a subsidiary of the China Communications Construction Company, which is on the list of companies disbarred by the World Bank) to build a massive transshipment port and associated logistics hub – right in the heart of the Portland Bight Protected Area.

Livelihoods Lost

253A5108

“Are you Chinese?” a young boy asks as I stroll among colorful boats on the shores of Old Harbour Bay, a community of some 8,500 fishers close to Goat Islands. He is not the first to ask. Ten minutes later, as I crouch to photograph a pelican resting on a boat, two policemen approach to ask what I am doing. Sensing suspicion in my presence, I decide to stick close to my hosts, local residents and fishers Paulette and Herman Coley and their six-year old son Jabari, who extend an invitation for me to join them on a fishing trip the following morning. I gladly accept.

253A3447
A curious pelican in Old Harbour Bay.

As the first light of day spills over the sea like liquid lava, we set off in a small boat to fish in the waters around Goat Islands. Paulette, who completed high school, is a well-educated resident of Old Harbour Bay and the only registered fisherwoman in the community. She talks to me about her perspective on the proposed development; “a lot of people don’t know what to think,” she says, “because we have not been provided with any information. The government claims it will bring jobs and opportunity to the area, but we are not qualified, and we are not being trained, for the jobs that will need to be done. They tell us what they want us to hear, but the reality is that we will be worse off. Many people will be displaced”.

Paulette Coley is the only registered fisherwoman in Old Harbour Bay, and an outspoken opponent to the proposed development of Goat Islands for fears of negative impacts to their livelihood.
Paulette Coley is the only registered fisherwoman in Old Harbour Bay, and an outspoken opponent to the proposed development of Goat Islands for fears of negative impacts to their livelihood.
Casting a fishing net as the sun rises above the waters surrounding Goat Islands.
Casting a fishing net as the sun rises above the waters surrounding Goat Islands.

Paulette’s suspicions are based on previous projects that were sold to locals on unfulfilled promises. In order to gain local support for a cruise ship port on the north coast of Jamaica, residents of Falmouth were brought on board with the promise of employment opportunities associated with a deluge of tourists to the area. Some opened restaurants in anticipation. But as cruise ships docked, towering over the town like totems of ostentation, locals could only look on as tourists shopped and dined in fancy stores and restaurants purpose-built on the pier, and embarked on excursions designed and led by the cruise company, bypassing the town entirely.

Paulette removes the fish that are netted and hauled aboard the boat.
Paulette removes the fish that are netted and hauled aboard the boat.

As we skirt Goat Islands, Herman and Paulette are keen to show me two signs, side-by-side on larger Goat Island. One sign informs that destroying the mangroves, burning coal and cutting trees are all prohibited, the other sign informs that the China Harbour Engineering Company has applied for a permit to do all of the above. They can’t help but laugh at the irony. Herman points to small markers indicating the boundaries of a fish sanctuary, and asks, “how can they say this won’t have an impact on our livelihoods?” He then turns to me and says, “do you want to go onto the island?” Because I know we shouldn’t, I say yes, I do. We moor in a small cove lined by the long roots of mangroves arcing into the water and walk to a clearing around the crumbled remains of a hospital that had been built by the USA during their occupation of the island. Paulettte collects a large Aloe Vera plant and some rosemary to take back with her to Old Harbour Bay “they are more abundant here” she explains. Back at their home, Herman proudly prepares and fries the catch of the day, serving me two fish garnished with salad.  It is quite delicious, and I leave feeling touched by their warm hospitality.

Maginificent frigatebirds rest in the trees surrounding Old Harbour Bay.
Maginificent frigatebirds rest in the trees surrounding Old Harbour Bay.

The Opposition

Only the brave in Jamaica dare speak out against the proposed sale of Goat Islands, risking accusations of xenophobia and of being anti-development. Dr. Byron Wilson, who has devoted over a decade of his life to protecting the Jamaican iguana and in recent years has jeopardized his academic career at the University of the West Indies by expressing opposition to something that will see more than twenty years of hard work “go up in smoke”. As we sit on the remote Manatee Bay under a full moon, staring into a star-filled sky over the Caribbean he says, “the plan since the 1970s has been to clear Goat Islands of introduced predators and create a safe haven for threatened native species such as the iguana. That has been the dream. I probably won’t want to come back here soon. I just can’t stand the thought of sitting here, and hearing dynamite exploding over there,” he points in the direction of Goat Islands as he talks, “and seeing plumes of smoke over the horizon. I just can’t do it”.

Wilson is joined in the fight against the development of Goat Islands by Dianna McCaulay, founder and CEO of the Jamaica Environmental Trust. McCaulay takes me to a wetland area beside the Hellshire Hills that will be build upon as part of the logistics hub, “this is unique in Jamaica” she tells me “I haven’t seen anywhere else like this. But, according to the maps I have seen, this will be part of the logistics hub. But nobody really knows.” One of McCaulay’s biggest points of contention with the proposed development is the lack of information that has been provided. “All our Access to Information requests for the technical proposal or the Framework Agreement between the Government of Jamaica and Chinese investors for this project have been denied.  We have therefore filed legal action requesting leave to apply for judicial review of these decisions and are awaiting a court date.”

A unique wetland among the Hellshire Hills, an area that will form part of the proposed logistics hub.
A unique wetland among the Hellshire Hills, an area that will form part of the proposed logistics hub.

One of the largest questions surrounding the proposed project is, why, when alternative sites such as the existing Kingston Harbour exist, has Portland Bight Protected Area been chosen? Given that local opposition, and letters of concern from authorities including the Director General of the IUCN, have fallen on deaf ears, I ask McCaulay what, if anything, could change the course of the proposed development. “International media attention” she replies. The tourism industry in Jamaica accounts for over 50 percent of the country’s total foreign exchange earnings, and provides about one-fourth of all jobs in Jamaica. If negative press around the sale of Portland Bight Protected Area could influence whether tourists choose to visit Jamaica or take their vacations elsewhere, this just could tip the scales in averting an ecological catastrophe.

To voice your opposition, please share this with the hashtag #savegoatislands and join the movement to save the Portland Bight Protected Area.  Click here to sign the petition  to save Goat Islands.

 

Comments

  1. Judith Brown
    Canada
    November 9, 11:04 pm

    It is a crime to destroy mother nature .Leave Goat Island alone

  2. Cecil Mcqueen
    Grenada
    May 11, 4:16 pm

    Why we always want to destroy the best. Save Goat Island.

  3. Anthony Harriott
    Jamaica
    May 9, 5:45 pm

    A good artcle but where did the idea that the career of Dr. Wilson’s was “jepordized” originate? The UWI is not that type of place.

  4. nancy
    stratford ontario
    May 8, 11:24 am

    Save Goat Islands and Hellshire Hills

  5. Pauline Powell
    Canada
    May 3, 9:41 pm

    This is so ironic.I was told that most of the original fisher families in OHB were moved there because Kaiser wanted their
    homes/fishing base for their bauxite operation,
    Where exactly does Ms Simpson’s govt. plan to move the present generation to, once the the fish habitat is destroyed?
    China maybe? Wait , they do not exactly tolerate Christians.

  6. Mirah Lim Todd
    Kingston, Jamaica
    May 2, 12:24 pm

    Kerryann and Delory’s comments are disappointing. This issue is bigger than the potential extinction of a species, and the loss of one of Jamaica’s most valuable natural places (although those should be reasons enough.) It is NOT about development vs. the environment or about people vs. animals. It is about selling out Jamaica as a whole, our places and our people, and above all, it is about a lack of transparency, adherence to proper international procedures and poor governance. There are other potential sites for this project. There are win win options. The GOJ just has to put Jamaica first.
    For ways you can get involved visit – http://savegoatislands.org/how-you-can-help/

  7. Tarponicus
    London
    May 2, 5:11 am

    People speak of the need for development and work. I understand that but (as with our government) building your way out of situations is a short term fix. People increase in numbers, and the problem resurfaces – and people look to whatever else can be plundered and exploited. Ultimately this development will be a detriment to the people and their children – also to the world.
    As for kerryann Montego bay April 24, 8:55 am: “Jamaican environmentalists are a bunch of white, near-white, educated humans who would rather spend thousands on taking care of their dogs and animals than on the pitiful lives of others” – I’m sorry they are “near white” (that must be very disturbing for you) but “People over animals every time” and “Do not spread mayhem and call for international censure and ostracization when many locals’ bread and butter depend on tourist arrival” seem a little inconsistent. Who wants to visit your delightful Chinese development to see your concrete? Well, maybe the Chinese eh – probably not those unpleasant “white/near white” people…. So I can se why you like the idea.

  8. desmond green
    florida
    May 1, 11:57 am

    We have to stop these people,they are wolves in sheep clothing,nothing but vampires,until you stand for something you will fall for everything,

  9. Kaydian
    May 1, 1:27 am

    There goes another piece of our beautiful country. They sell everything – utility companies, bauxite – all the important infrastructure in our country we do not own. And to think that now they have taken it even further. Rare habitats like these will now become “developed”. Did they think how it will affect the citizens? The pollution it will bring? We fought the fight to be free to live how we choose. Our forefathers would be ashamed. Their sacrifice, all in vein. Lady PM, you are a disgrace. Watch out Jamaicans, we will be next. They sell everything else, will they not sell us too, eventually?

  10. Patricia Hanson
    Silver Spring, Maryland United States
    April 30, 7:30 am

    This proposed devleopment must stop. The protected area, and its econoic bendifts suchas as fisheries, must be conserved. Until the Govenrment of Jamaica changes course on this Goat Island Development, I will not be visiting Jamaica for any vacation!

  11. Cavell Stephenson
    New Jersey
    April 28, 8:41 pm

    What financial necessity could have brought us to this unseemly action – selling our endangered species to the highest bidder! What, exactly, induced this cannibalization? I hope we can stop this nightmare.

    A big “thank you!” to the journalists, reporters, photographers, and environmental activists who brought this betrayal to our attention.

  12. donovan allen
    new jersey
    April 27, 9:44 pm

    it’s sad that kerryann took such a stand. people over animals, people have been destroying plants and animals to their own detriment

  13. dawn
    Jamaica
    April 26, 11:13 am

    All these politicians thing about is how to advance themselves. They don’t care about the well fare of the Jamaicans .The Chinese are restoring the Hope Zoo and all you see is more and more Buddha. Come on! ! The last t time I check we we a christian country

  14. Wayne Stephens
    Florida
    April 25, 9:01 pm

    As I read this article, I was torn because the noble cause of conserving this wonderful Eco system is truly threatened by the fact the Chinese were able to buy it…I predict they will build a bridge from the mainland in due time ….

  15. Sphilly
    Toronto
    April 25, 8:13 pm

    China does not take care of China, so what the crap can the Jamaican government expect it to do with this beautiful little island. I am not by any means racist and this is not a racial comment, it’s plain truth – CHINESE DON’T GIVE A RATS BUTT ABOUT ANYONE ONE ELSE! The areas are protected for a reason. It’s not just the wildlife, it’s also the marine life, oh my god I can’t even put it all into words without writing a darn essay… This is BIG people, VERY BIG and I pray to God that the churches will rise up and pray and the people will protest. This cannot and MUST not happen. Anyone who sees differently or does not see it at all needs to do some research. If the world Bank doesn’t want to do business with them, why on earth is Jamaica doing it!?? Oh Lord help us! Have mercy Jesus

  16. Nicole Atteberry
    Miami, FL
    April 25, 6:23 pm

    If this is as disgusting and sad to you, as it is me…please sign the petition. Comments that indicate refusal of tourism (ie…I won’t travel to Jamaica and spend my $$ are garnering a LOT of attention). https://www.change.org/petitions/prime-minister-portia-simpson-miller-et-al-no-trans-shipping-port-portland-bight-protected-area-jamaica?share_id=EWQGYRZHjc&utm_campaign=mailto_link&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

  17. Collin Henry
    Dallas Texas, U.S.A
    April 25, 5:51 pm

    On reflection & some careful soul-searching, I would like to apologize for my rather strident remarks about the PM and her government last night. Notwithstanding that our National Airline was sold off, our Bauxite/Alumina Plants were sold off to the Russians who promptly shut them down depriving thousands of Jamaican Families of their livelihood, not to mention tax revenues that would have accrued to the National Economy and the hundreds of small businesses affected. Regretfully, I allowed my mental and emotional outrage to get the better of me, my remarks were over the top and totally out of line and for that I unreservedly apologize. The use of the phrase “Chinese Vampires” was not meant to include the hard-working industrious wonderful Chinese Jamaican People who have been a part of our National Fabric for several decades but to the cadre of so called “Entrepreneurs” that want to come into our beautiful island and tear down our ecosystem for selfish gains with no thought for the devastation this would have on our tiny country – for them I have no apology. They are not our friends. OPEN YOUR EYES JAMAICA!!!

  18. Lisa Sorenson
    Boston
    April 25, 4:42 pm

    Excellent article and photos – thank you so much for bringing more international attention to help with this campaign! We ask readers to please sign the petition and join our FaceBook page to be kept up to date. Everyone is also encouraged to write letters to the various Jamaican ministers voicing your objections to this development. Information on where to send letters is at: http://www.savegoatislands.org
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/no.onportgoatisland/
    Sign the petition here:
    https://www.change.org/petitions/prime-minister-portia-simpson-miller-et-al-no-trans-shipping-port-portland-bight-protected-area-jamaica?share_id=EWQGYRZHjc&utm_campaign=mailto_link&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

  19. Collin Henry
    Dallas Texas, U.S.A
    April 24, 8:42 pm

    It’s not too late, where are the leaders in Jamaica? You need to go out & tell the people what this DIBI DIBI Prime Minister is doing and reject it en masse then vote her and her crooked Government out of office thereby clearing the way to tell those Chinese Vampires to GET THE HELL OUT!! WAKE UP JAMAICA, THE PRIME MINISTER IS SELLING OUT OUR BIRTHRIGHT. SHE MUST BE STOPPED!!

  20. Brad Levin
    Miami, Florida
    April 24, 4:15 pm

    Sorry to say but if the ordinary Jamaicans think that they are going to be getting jobs in the development of Goat Island, they are sadly mistaken. Remember the free-zone which was built by the Chinese??? Remember they brought in Chinese workers to replace the Jamaicans. So sad that poor people are always sold a straw basket to carry water. These leaders throughout the Caribbean are always easy fooled by these outside investor with job creation but what is even more sad is that only the politician and their cronies will benefit from destroying Goat Islands.

  21. Michael Fouraker
    Fort Worth TX
    April 24, 3:29 pm

    Allow the Chinese to bring development in the form of Ports, Coal plants and devastation of the enviroment and tourism will disappear. This will not affect just the Portland Bight, but all of Jamaica in the end.
    M. Fouraker, Caribbean Wildlife Alliance

  22. Yvonne Jacobs
    Montreal, Quebec, CANADA
    April 24, 3:22 pm

    THIS IS SERIOUS,
    The Government is selling off every square inch of JAMAICIAN Coastlines for HIGH END Hotels. The Chinese are taking over JAMAICA! JAMAICA will no longer be JAMAICIAN! WHY ARE THE PEOPLE OF JAMAICA NOT PROTESTING THE SELLING OFF OF GOAT ISLAND & THE REST OF JAMAICA?
    JAMAICA IS NOT FOR SALE!!!!

  23. RasHue
    Atlanta, GA
    April 24, 12:40 pm

    I am sure Michael Manley must be turning in his grave to see how this person that he brought up from nothing has literally turned to bit the hands that fed and continues feed her. The current Government must have lost their minds to even consider selling this gem to the Chinese, don’t they know the Island will never see a cent from any operation on the island if this planned disaster is allowed to come to fruition. I supposed if this deal is allowed to go through then the only thing that will be left for the Jamaican government to sell are the children of the island.
    Go ahead my Portia (love the poor!) you will go down as the worst PM in the history of the island, it is this kind of action that makes Seaga look like a saint and that is not a compliment, since he is the Devil himself.

  24. Robin Moore
    Washington, DC
    April 24, 11:28 am

    Thanks for all the comments, and especially all the expressions of support. It is disappointing to see kerryann’s reduction of the argument to “people vs animals” – it’s exactly this misconception, that we are somehow separate from nature, that will be our downfall as a species. We are digging our own grave. I find the argument that “many locals’ bread and butter depend on tourist arrival” interesting – are you referring to the tourists who come to Jamaica to enjoy an unspoilt environment and breathe clean air and swim in clear waters? Do you realize the proposed hub will only have a NEGATIVE impact on international tourism in Jamaica? You don’t think that razing forests and building a coal-burning plant is going to have any negative effect on local people? Please.

  25. kerryann
    Montego bay
    April 24, 8:55 am

    This debate seems rather simple to me: who is more important- humans or animals? The lohistics hub is a sure way to take many who are teetering over the edge of despair to an area of hope. Call me cynical, but the Jamaican environmentalists are a bunch of white, near-white, educated humans who would rather spend thousands on taking care of their dogs and animals than on the pitiful lives of others.

    Why cant the reptiles be moved to another habitat? Call me cynical again. If some natural disaster destroyed Goat Islands, what would you do then?

    People over animals all the time. Ensure that the government do not sign over our total rights. Do not spread mayhem and call for international censure and ostracization when many locals’ bread and butter depend on tourist arrival. I should know.

  26. Perry becker
    Englewood fl
    April 24, 8:41 am

    Please let’s save this island.one love pman

  27. Victoria Trestrail
    Trinidad
    April 24, 7:40 am

    This tragedy should not be allowed to happen.

  28. Michael Austin
    North America
    April 24, 3:23 am

    One word describes what’s being considered by the Jamaican government and the Chinese shipping company: ecocide. There’s not another noun which sums it up as succinctly.

  29. Marlondo Latouche
    KINGDTON Jamaica
    April 24, 12:13 am

    Im ashamed that our government would even consider selling Goat Island, one of our last piece of Paradise…. SMH #heartbreaking

  30. Steven G. Smith
    USA
    April 23, 8:31 pm

    Thank you for covering this very important issue in Jamaica. There are so many people all over the world working hard to keep this area protected from this type of massive development. This article is responsible for a huge increase in the amount of signatures on the NO! to port on Goat Islands/PBPA, Jamaica petition site. As more become aware of the situation world wide we can only hope that enough pressure can be brought to convince governmental officials to not move forward with the project in this protected area but others as well.

  31. Sue McKenzie
    Negril, Jamaica
    April 23, 6:50 pm

    Spent many a happy Sunday on one of the Goat Island back in the early 90’s, eating roast fish, treaching kids, fishermen and drivers to swim. Got some great photos of Old Harbour Bay and the Island we used to hang out on still.

    Save this islands and stop selling us out to China please !!!

  32. Delroy
    Negril
    April 23, 6:01 pm

    I too is willing to sacrifice a few hundred lizards to give Jamaica a place in global trade.

    All most all small nations that are doing very well economically have something to connect them to global trade.Of course there are a few exceptions, One time in our history we were the richest island in the World and that was directly because we were connected to global trade via Port Royal and sugar trade.

    Economic opportunity like this one don’t come every day. The greatest treat to the environment is poverty.

    If the truth is to be told the entire Jamaica especially the coastlines could be declare protected zone.

    The time has come for us to make a decision and I am going with development. It is not rocket science that the more developed countries are able to have better environmental practices

    Delroy

  33. Jah T( aka ) Tony Patterson
    Germany
    April 23, 5:50 pm

    hav to make them realize what them ado ! Jah say take care of de land , not reconstruct it, not by take away his creation.Save Goat Islands and Hellshire Hills! A lot of overstanding has come from there , To sell out ! you will be selling your own irrupted selves. just inviting people who will need more space. Jamaicans , hav nah place already . cures will be waiting for the one , that make such a deal . Jah T – one drop pro, inc . RASTA BIZNESS .

  34. Lurene Shaw
    Hellshire, St. Catherine
    April 23, 4:03 pm

    Why do politicians continue to sell out Jamaica to foreign entities? We have forgotten what patriotism means. When we continue to destroy our reefs and the whole ecosystem, we are setting up ourselves for disaster in years to come. Look at the devastating effects we have suffered after the last few really bad hurricanes we have had! Apart from pollution and other factors we have to deal with also, have decreased the fishing population over the years. When will our government wake up and realize what is happening, that they have a powerful voice with regards to the destruction of our natural habitat and the potential future for further devastation. What legacy are they creating for the future adults of our country?

  35. Tandora Grant
    San Diego, CA
    April 23, 11:33 am

    There is more information on this issue at http://www.SaveGoatIslands.org

  36. Rohan Webb
    United States
    April 23, 11:17 am

    Building a logistics hub in this area, without real input from stakeholders, accented by the government’s utterances of half-truths and a less than transparent approach about this project is criminal! While there is admittedly an economic imperative to literally save the lives of the unemployed, unemployable, and underemployed in Jamaica, destroying this protected habitat is not it.

    Under the guise of economic development a sinister, carefully choreographed effort is afoot to rob the very people the development of the logistics hub is supposed to “advance”.

    People with even a little moral potency ought not to yield to these unctuous, callous propositions of grandeur for the dispossessed. Harping on the hopes of the desolate while trampling the earth beneath them will be judged harshly by history. I hereby raise my voice to denounce this mockery of “advancement” and challenge those in authority to do the same.

  37. Anthony Norman
    Mandeville, Jamaica
    April 23, 11:16 am

    “A picture is worth a thousand words” The pictures and accompanying comments speak volumes to unique value of the PBPA & the threats that loom. Thank you!

  38. Jeneve Patrick
    Kingston
    April 23, 11:03 am

    I have mixed reaction to this debate. I strongly believe in protecting the environment however development is necessary. We cannot pursue development however at the expense of the environment. That said my question is this, if the Goat Island is so important to Jamaica, why haven’t the populace been educated an sensitized about this area? I was educated at a prominent high school and university in kingston and the first time i heard about this place was when the debate began. I am sure that most Jamaican can say the same. The local environment groups need to start doing more to inform the locals about these areas and sensitize everyone on environmental issues that concern us. The government I agree, is doing a poor job at informing the populace about the plans and preparing us for what is to come. As Jamaicans we certainly feel cheated when there is development that should benefit us and we are shafted. I personally am willing to sacrifice a few hundred Iguanas for sustainable development that is far reaching and will benefit the majority of Jamaicans.
    Regards
    Jeneve

  39. Christopher Phillips
    Jamaica
    April 23, 9:45 am

    My sincerest gratitude to Mr. Robin Moore, the ILCP, and to National Geographic for highlighting this story. The government of Jamaica is showing its complete backwardness when it comes to the beauty of our country and to saving the environment. Anything you hear from them where the environment is concerned is just lip service to get their hands on international funding to misappropriate. It breaks my heart that our government would even consider putting a mega transshipment port at this location when there are other viable options. They refuse to listen to the people so all we can hope for is intense international pressure being put on them. This article will hopefully go a long way with that.

    Again, I cannot thank you and all the other persons who are fighting tooth and nail to try and stop this ecocide from taking place enough.

  40. Marguerite Narinesingh
    Trinidad & Tobago
    April 23, 9:12 am

    As a Jamaican who is passionately in love with the land of my birth, I thank you for this update on Goat Island and what is happening with those beautiful lizards!

  41. Angie Chang
    Canada
    April 23, 8:16 am

    Hope everyone who can do something to prevent the development of Goat islands and destroy the wild life there will fight until the industrial development is overturned. I did not even know that Jamaica had Iguanas. It would be a shame to lose them after re-discovering their existence. I hope that UNESCO will be the answer.

  42. Tara Davis
    Orlando fl
    April 23, 6:47 am

    Great article. I am a proud Jamaican and am horrified that they would distroy such a historic piece of land.

  43. Veronica Salter
    kingston
    April 22, 10:15 pm

    Save Goat IslandsWhat heritage are we leaving our children.?

  44. Scott Kviz
    April 22, 10:07 pm

    While I signed the petition,I seriously question how anything will make the government change their minds. the deal is already done and unfortunately this is just one more piece of Jamaica the politicians will sell off. man doesnt care about environment or wildlife when money cmes into the picture. the chinese are buying up america as well. how blinded by greed are these so called servants of the people. they only serve themselves. you see they have even waived the visa process for chinese.short of divine intervention, the Goat islands are all but doomed.

  45. Shelly Weston
    Jamaica
    April 22, 9:48 pm

    Hope this makes it to CNN and BBC!

  46. Marcia O'Connor
    Florida
    April 22, 8:58 pm

    This is a very important Island to protect- get together and save it.

  47. Nadine Johnson
    Miami, Florida
    April 22, 8:22 pm

    If you ever want me to return to Jamaica, you MUST save Goat Island and the other precious environmental beauties in your country. Until this happens, I will not spend my travel dollars to go there.

  48. Hortical
    Oakland
    April 22, 7:29 pm

    Its too late, Jamaican politicians have already signed a secret deal with the Chinese to the detriment of the environment. Its a shame.

  49. Sheila Carman
    MA USA
    April 22, 6:32 pm

    What can we do from foreign to help?

  50. Dr. James Lazell
    Jamestown, RI 02835, U.S.A.
    April 22, 5:34 pm

    Save Goat Islands and Hellshire Hills! I began my career in conservation biology there in 1957.