JAMAICA | Repeated Contamination of Rio Cobre Dangerous says Frazer-Binns

JAMAICA | Repeated Contamination of Rio Cobre Dangerous says Frazer-Binns

Kingston, August 4, 2021: The People's National Party (PNP) Shadow Minister of Land, Environment and Climate Change, Sophia Frazer Binns, expresses concern that the livelihood of fishermen and families who depend on the Rio Cobre river have been interrupted by  the repeated contamination of the river for far too long.

After a fish kill on Monday, fishermen and homeowners in the Bog Walk Gorge in St Catherine are once again appealing to environmental authorities to take decisive action to stop the contamination of the Rio Cobre. Dead fish, both large and small, were found floating in the river, and in other parts, a white, froth-like substance had settled.

Member of Parliament, Natalie Neita Garvey, who visited the Gorge on Tuesday, August 3, underscored the point that mechanisms need to be implemented to prevent a repeat of these incidents. A similar occurrence happened in 2019, where NEPA took Windalco to court in relation to a spill. MP Neita Garvey said, “while the matter is still in court and should be dispensed with quickly, redress for loss of livelihood must be a strong consideration to ensure justice for the affected citizens.” 

MP Neita Garvey added that “fisher folks will not be able to carry on their trade for the next couple of months. Many communities depend on the river to catch fish, so unfortunate incidents like these put the residents’ lives and livelihood at risk. The affected residents deserve compensation.”

Senator Frazer Binns said it is for these reasons why a motion has been tabled in the Senate calling for the review of the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act, to make it more effective. She noted areas of concern as the penalties levied for breaches and execution of enforcement notices, this she hopes will be more of a deterrent and stop future instances of pollution of the Rio Cobre.

Meanwhile the Opposition is repeating the appeal to residents not to use water from the Rio Cobre or consume any of its fish until further directives from the relevant authorities.

As we contend with the COVID 19 Pandemic, coupled with climate crises, food security has become increasingly important. Protecting the source of food and our fishermen's livelihood must be a national priority. 

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