Coral Reef Protection in Western Jamaica
Thomas J. Goreau, Ph.D.
President, Global Coral Reef Alliance,
Scientific Advisor, Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society
Published: 1992, p. 39-65 in Protecting Jamaica's Coral Reefs: Water Quality Issues
NOTE: This paper describes the ecological status of coral reefs along the entire western half of Jamaica during 1992, identifies the major stresses taking place in each area, and makes specific recommendations regarding the management and conservation of all of them, with special attention to identifying those reefs of special importance because of their high biodiversity, live coral cover, coral size, and roles as fish nurseries and in shore protection. Since this paper was written all the sites described have deteriorated significantly.
Jamaican reefs have high value as natural resources because of their high biodiversity and role in fisheries, tourism, and shore protection. The concepts of eutrophication, sustainable management of coral reefs, external reef nutrient load and human carrying capacity are developed in this paper. The environmental health and protection status of coral reefs around Western Jamaica from Whitehouse, Westmoreland to Discovery Bay, St. Anns were assessed during 1992. Factors compared included coral and algal species distributions, current threats to reef habitats from sedimentation, sewage, pollution, boat and diver damage, over harvesting, and both current and proposed land use and development. Sites were evaluated with regard to potential for bathing, snorkeling, diving, boating, fishing, mariculture, port use, fish nursery grounds, and scientific monitoring sites. Areas exceptional because of high species diversity, important fish nursery grounds, unusually large corals and rapid coral growth rates, or remarkable underwater topography, are recommended as no-use preserves. Most reefs near developed shores are now seriously degraded by algal overgrowth of corals: their restoration requires sharp and prompt decreases in sewage nutrient releases to the coastal zone. To protect water quality in remaining Jamaican reefs, still the most species-rich in the Caribbean, and preserve them as perpetual resources for tourism, fisheries, and shore protection will require strong conservation measures and development restrictions near the best reefs. Extension of current patterns of "development" will quickly degrade or destroy them. An integrated national coastal zone management approach is urgently needed that prevents coastal development until after sewage infrastructure is in place. While local environmental non-governmental organizations have a critical role to play in decision-making and project implementation, current models for financing conservation are maladapted and need to be changed.
INTRODUCTION: JAMAICAN REEF DIVERSITY AND PROTECTION
Jamaica's reefs are regarded as the centre of marine species diversity of the Caribbean region (Goreau et al., 1979). This results from Jamaica's exceptionally high habitat diversity in a small area and its probable role as major refuge of the Caribbean reef fauna and flora during the Ice Ages. Jamaica's reef ecosystems as a whole are therefore central to conservation of the Caribbean's marine biodiversity.
Jamaica's reefs are currently under high stress in all developed coastal areas (Goreau, 1992), and much of the remainder are near areas slated for development soon. Unless the remaining reefs are assessed quickly with regard to environmental protection needs, many of the best could be lost soon due to a wide range of population dependent stresses or to temperature and climate channe (Goreau & Hayes, 1994).
This damage could have been prevented because understanding of the many causes of reef degradation and sound policies to counteract them were first developed in Jamaica. Many Caribbean countries lost much of their reefs because they didn't have local scientific expertise to recognize or document what was happening, but Jamaica had the longest and most detailed reef ecology data in the world, yet failed to build on it. Many islands have now been forced to recognize the need for coastal zone management and protection, and established effective research, monitoring, protection, and enforcement programs. For example, neighboring Cuba has several hundred times as many professional marine scientists and fisheries researchers as Jamaica, and conservation of coastal ecosystems has kept the reefs in prime condition except immediately next to major ports.
Although the first coral reef marine parks in the world were planned in Jamaica in the mid 1950s, no action was taken by the relevant authorities for over 35 years. Conservation related marine research and monitoring in Jamaica has deteriorated over the past 20 years, while destruction and degradation of reef habitats around the island has accelerated (Goreau, 1992). Serious and sustained work is badly needed to record and learn from the changes of the past, to understand the causes of the changes taking place at present, and to prepare for the future.
ESTIMATING THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF JAMAICAN REEFS
No detailed estimate has yet been made of the economic value of coral reefs to the Jamaican economy. A recent assessment of tourism income statistics and FAO fisheries data for 40 coral reef countries, including Jamaica, has recently been prepared (F. Chan, 1993). Jamaican reefs rank around the middle of those reported, with estimated reef economic values for tourism and fisheries being in the range of several million US dollars per kilometer of reef crest. These values were estimated from international economic income statistics, corrected for such factors as income retention in the national economy and for the fraction of fish catch exported.
The economic value of reefs in shore line protection is harder to determine than tourism and fisheries revenues, as this value lies not in direct income generation but in prevention of expenses resulting from destruction of coastal property, lives, and infrastructure. We can roughly estimate its value in terms of replacement costs for just the damaged reef crests by ignoring the replacement value of the structures they protect, therefore making an under-estimate of the real costs. Currently used technology to replace damaged reef crest in order to protect shorelines in the Maldives costs around 10 million US$ per kilometer (Minister of the Environment, the Maldives, personal communication). Use of a new technology, reef restoration by mineral accretion (Hilbertz, 1992), would cost roughly one tenth as much.
We therefore roughly estimate total annual economic value of coral reefs in Jamaica from tourism, fishery, and shore protection as Lying in the range of millions of US$ per kilometer, if not more. With roughly 400 kilometers of reef, Jamaican reefs therefore have a net value of billions of US$ per year. This preliminary estimate is very rough, but it is approximately the correct order of magnitude, and will be more fully refined in the future when the next stage of Chan's study is completed. Nevertheless, this early assessment suggests coral reefs are the most valuable of Jamaica's marine ecosystems, perhaps even be more valuable per unit area than any terrestrial ecosystem in Jamaica. The nation therefore has much at stake in maintaining their ecological health and economic value.
ASSESSMENT OF REEF USE AND SUSTAINABILITY
The phrase "sustainable development" is widely used, yet rarely in a way in which the concept is clearly defined or in which different forms of sustainability can be identified and quantitatively compared with regard to their desirability. Without such definitions and criteria, the phrase "sustainable development" becomes virtually meaningless. Sustainability should be regarded as a multidimensional concept, whose spectrum includes many critical parameters of ecological and genetic diversity, as well as measures of environmental quality with regard to limiting stresses. A number of scientifically-sound criteria which are potential measures of ecosystem and environmental sustainability are discussed in Goreau 1992c, d.
One measure of sustainability that is especially relevant to coral reef protection in a densely populated country like Jamaica is the level of nutrients in coastal waters with regard to the acceptable upper limits required to prevent algal overgrowth. Any marine ecosystem will undergo eutrophication, excessive proliferation of nuisance algae, when nutrient inputs are too high, but coral reefs are the most sensitive of all marine ecosystems to excess nutrients. Unfortunately, until the recent establishment of appropriate nutrient standards for coral reefs, there was a tendency to uncritically adopt standards from cold developed countries. Those standards were developed for estuary ecosystems. These habitats receive large amounts of runoff from spring snow melt, are low in biological diversity, and are dangerously inappropriate for tropical coral reef ecosystems.
The limiting values for tropical reefs, above which algae are observed to overgrow corals, are 1 micromolar N and 0.1 micromolar P (Lapointe, this volume). Wade's measurements of nutrients in Negril's coastal waters during 1991 (this volume) show that concentrations were more than 10 times above the acceptable limits. Nutrients inputs to the Bay are clearly way beyond those the reef corals can tolerate. By the critical reef nutrient criterion, Negril is unsustainably overdeveloped by a factor of more than 10 times. With existing patterns of per-capita nutrient release, the area has more than 10 times more people than the reef can stand.
An illustration of the effect of population density on human carrying capacity of reefs is illustrated by the situation in Moorea, a South Pacific island with a population of only 4,500. Club Med's 400 room complex is the only large tourist site on the island, and its largest single source of sewage, which undergoes secondary treatment before ocean discharge. Only a single species of algae, Turbinaria ornata, was found at all reef sites. This species is tough, unpalatable to fish, and adapted to live on very high wave energy shores and reef crests. Algae were extremely rare in reefs all around Moorea, far less common than anywhere in Jamaica today, except right in front of Club Med bathing beach. The resort's ocean sewage outfall pipe was buried beneath the beach and ran along the bottom to a depth of about 20 feet. It had clearly been blocked underground for some time when examined in July 1991, because the end of the pipe contained undisturbed marine sediments and was occupied by organisms which had settled and grown inside. Instead of emerging from the pipe, sewage apparently trickled out through the beach sand, stimulating growth of large slimy mats of cyanobacteria on the sand bottom, and dense growths of smothering green algae identical in appearance to Chaetomorpha linum, which has been a major problem in eutrophication of Jamaican reefs (Goreau, 1992). This alga was seen nowhere else on Moorea, including in front of the sewage outfalls of other smaller resorts, which range up to around 20 rooms. This evidence suggests that the human carrying capacity of Moorea reefs are to date exceeded only in front of the single largest resort. In terms of population density and sewage generation, Negril is about equivalent to 7 solid miles of Club Med., and is therefore likely to have a population density which exceeds the reef human carrying capacity throughout. Consequently the reef's survival cannot be sustained in the long run unless there is at least a ten fold improvement in the efficiency of technology used to intercept and remove nutrients before coral mortality becomes so severe that recovery is impossible. The same is the case in most areas of tourism development in Jamaica and in most other coral reef countries around the world. They are, in effect, racing each other to capitalize off short term value of their reefs before they destroy them.
The situation is far worse than Negril in many other parts of Jamaica, especially near Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, St. Anns Bay, and Discovery Bay. For the reefs to recover, either there needs to be many less people living in these areas, or they need to adopt technology which treats and removes all excess nutrient inputs to the coastal zone. The carrying capacity is highly dependent on the type of technology employed to contain or prevent human impacts to the environment. This paper concludes that so much of Jamaica's coastlines are now over-developed with regard to current environmental practices that marked technology improvements in sewage treatment are needed to allow reefs in these areas to recover. Areas not yet impacted need protection from damage by inappropriate "development" because it will be far cheaper to protect their reefs than to restore them after they are degraded.
COMPARISON OF SITES
In this section ecological changes observed in the past year and a half are contrasted. Sites described begin at Long Bay, Negril, and proceed first southwards to Whitehall, and then from Bloody Bay eastwards to Discovery Bay (see map 1 for the location of each numbered zone discussed below). Sites were examined by a wide range of methods, including diving, snorkeling, glass bottom boat, from shore, low-flying aircraft, and from discussions with local divers. All sites were examined between late 1991 and early 1993. As many places as possible were investigated, but sometimes only shallow snorkeling
Investigations were possible. Areas of Hanover east of Green Island and from the Montego Bay airport to eastern Trelawny were personally assessed along their entire lengths only by viewing from shore and air, so their assessment must be regarded as especially provisional. Descriptions of long term change in reefs around Jamaica are provided in Goreau (1956), Goreau (1959), Goreau & Goreau (1973), & Goreau (1992 a,b).
1) LONG BAY
Algal overgrowth continued to be the major problem in Long Bay reefs during 1992. In most places the height of Sargassum hystrix growth on the fore reef declined considerably from the previous year, and remained high in many other areas. At most sites it had become generally subordinate in abundance to Lobophora variegata, Dictyota species, and Halimeda tuna or Halimeda goreauii. Algal overgrowth of shallow sand flats, seagrass, and reef areas by Chaetomorpha linum was also greatly reduced compared to 1991. The weather was much cooler during 1992, the seas were much rougher, and the calm conditions which promote stagnant water circulation and especially elevated nutrient levels were less common in the Bay than the preceding year.
Despite the apparent improvement of many Negril reefs during 1992, a serious new algal problem emerged in both deep fore reefs (from 30 to 70 feet) and in some very shallow (5 to 10 feet) waters in the northern part of Long Bay. This was dense growth of the nuisance green algae species Cladophoropsis macromeres, which completely smothered large patches of the bottom. These patches covered up to 70% of the areas affected. The large mats break up into loose biscuit-sized lumps which are easily broken up during storms, when they are washed into and fill the submarine sand channels which drain sediments from the fore reef area.
In reefs of Long Bay, many coral heads are being overgrown by encrusting sponges and by Didemnid tunicates, which form pale rubbery mats that smother corals. All the dead and perhaps most of the remaining large live coral heads have been heavily infested by boring sponges, worms, and clams. Although many coral heads appear superficially to be structurally sound, most are riddled out from within and will within a few years eventually collapse into rubble. Large dead and live coral heads which were toppled over near Booby Cay during the strong Norther of late March 1993 had largely had their bases severely structurally weakened by the burrows of boring organisms breaking along them.
During 1992 seagrass beds in Long Bay and Bloody Bay looked poor, and glass bottom boat transects showed reduced abundance of most species of starfish, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins with the exception of the long black spined sea urchin, Diadema antillarum. This increased markedly in some shallow seagrass areas of northern Long Bay, where they have strongly reduced algal biomass within range of the dead patch reefs where they shelter. Seagrasses were pale, short, and sparse, and large mats of cyanobacteria were abundant on seagrass bed sediments in northern Long Bay and Bloody Bay.
Although coral overgrowth by algae has been very marked in recent years, only the shallow Long Bay reefs, those near Booby Cay, and severely hurricane-stressed areas along the coast have had so much of the coral killed that recovery, even in the absence of all further stress, would require settlement and growth of a whole new coral community, a process which could take centuries. Around half the coral cover survives in the better reefs of Negril, and so these reefs could recover if stresses to them from excessive nutrients and turbidity were abated. However, unless this happens within the next few years, cumulative algal overgrowth should reach the point of no return, similar to that passed in the Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, St. Anns Bay, and Discovery Bay areas, where so little live coral remains that if conditions again became favourable natural recovery could take centuries.
Recovery of reefs in the Long Bay area requires reducing current inputs of nutrients by more than 90% for concentrations to fall below levels which stimulate excessive algal overgrowth of corals. This mandates treatment of virtually all sewage in watersheds upstream of Long Bay (Goreau, this volume). A more detailed assessment of current and potential threats to Negril area reefs is included in the accompanying paper (Goreau, this volume).
2) WEST END
Corals in reef areas along the southern fringe of Long Bay near the mouth of the South Negril River have largely been overgrown by algae, sponges, and tunicates. Reef growth, diversity, and fish populations are very low in those parts of the Bay most affected by the brown plume of the South Negril River. Coral growth further westward on the West End consists mainly of coral communities growing on hard limestone bedrock, and true shallow reef structure is poorly developed. Coral cover and growth improves with water depth and with distance from the River (Goreau et al., 1988). Coral cover near the Lighthouse steadily improves with depth down to about 60 feet.
The West End is a centre for snorkeling and swimming because waters are accessible by ladders down the cliffs, and selected areas may provide some of the best remaining snorkeling within the Negril tourist area. However, swimmers are completely unprotected from the high speed boats which occasionally whip around the West End, and a boat lane should be demarcated and marked with floats.
Caves form the major natural attraction, and few areas of Jamaica have so many caves in so small an area. Because many caves had unusual deep water fauna living in them prior to tourism development, they were strongly recommended for protection as habitats of rare natural beauty in the Negril Marine Park proposed to the Negril Green Island Land Authority and the Beach Control Authority (Goreau, 1960). Several caves are currently regarded by local residents to be polluted from sewage, and some are the origin of ear infection complaints, so it is likely that the majority of cave fauna are no longer pristine.
Most areas along the West End show evidence of high physical damage to corals from hurricanes and northers, but a few sheltered sites have good coral growth. Physical damage depends strongly on bottom slope and orientation with regard to waves and can vary strongly over short distances. Rocky shores less than 10 feet in depth subject to strong wave pounding during northers are overgrown by the wave resistant algae Sargassum polyceratium, Turbinaria tricostata, and encrusting coralline red algae. Many areas between 10 and 40 feet are dominated by large dead coral heads overgrown by Sargassum hystrix, Dictyota species, and Bryothamnium triquetrum. Algae which are known nutrient indicators (Bryopsis plumosa, Anadyomene stellata, and Dictyosphaeria cavernosa) are fairly common near mouths of large caves that are sources of groundwater flow and nutrients, although they were absent or very rare at adjacent coastal sites away from such caves.
Wave erosion along the cliff has created large numbers of small caves beneath fossil reef limestone cap rock. These caves are usually small and have dead ends, unlike the large caves formed by dissolution of limestone along cracks by freshwater flow. Many erosion caves have been scoured bare of life, and some are still barren while others are in various phases of recovery. Some show intense settlement within the past two years by hundreds of young colonies of the common "lettuce" coral, Agaricia tenuifolia, a fast growing species which commonly settles on hurricane damaged reefs in Jamaica (Goreau, 1959). Some sites also show incipient recolonization by Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata. These two species had formerly been the most abundant shallow species in the area,based on ecological studies, and on examination of the composition of coral rubble and of dead standing coral heads. These two species, which had played the major role in Jamaican shore line protection, are now present at no more than a few percent of their former abundance almost anywhere in Jamaica.
If nutrient levels can be kept low and physical damage minimized, there is an excellent chance of West End fringing reefs recovering and becoming more attractive for snorkelers. Protecting the reefs of the West End will be increasingly more important as more hotels and villas open in this area. The greatly increased development now planned for the West End could threaten these reefs with eutrophication unless all sewage is prevented from entering the underground cave system. Keeping cave waters clean for swimmers and divers requires ensuring that all sewage, including that from populated hill areas as well as from the coastal road strip, are taken into the sewage collection system for full tertiary treatment before their effluents are released to the environment (Goreau, this volume).
3) LIGHTHOUSE TO LITTLE BAY
The coastline along this area is rocky, rough, and steep. The eastern half is now undeveloped because it lacks shore road access. Fringing reefs which had been composed of lushly developed staghorn and elkhorn, were largely destroyed at the end of Hurricane Gilbert, when winds swung around from the south. Large piles of coral rubble are seen in shallow water, and coral recovery has been fairly poor in most areas shallower than 20 feet. Nevertheless, new coral settlement is occurring in selected spots. Some reefs from 20 to 50 feet are in very good condition, with nearly 100% hard coral cover, and very high coral species diversity. Algal species diversity is high, but biomass is moderate and species are typical of relatively oligotrophic (low nutrient) conditions (primarily Dictyota, Halimeda, Bryothamnion, Penicillus, Udotea, and Avranvillea species).
Except for those which are bleached, corals are largely healthy, being very well pigmented and apparently protected from excess sediments and nutrients by virtue of being located along an undeveloped limestone shoreline. Reefs are said to be best developed around headlands and to improve from Hogg Heaven eastward to Little Bay, according to knowledgeable local fishermen. Unfortunately it was not possible to survey most of this area directly except that between Hogg Heaven and Secret Paradise. No reports were available on diving on the deeper reefs, although it is likely that these are mostly in good condition except that black coral, conch, and many fish species are likely to have been over harvested. This area is a major area for fish trap fishermen based in Negril. Marine charts suggest offshore topography in the Eastern part of this zone is among the steepest in Jamaica, and it is likely that wall diving and deep reef fauna are present close to land.
Although inadequate information is now available to fully assess quality of reefs in this area, there is reason to believe some of the better reefs in the Negril area may be found there. A detailed ecological survey of this area is needed to identify the characteristics of the reef habitats and to establish areas in need of protection. Certain sites in the area may provide first rate diving and snorkeling if suitably delimited and marked by moorings.
The coastline along this area is primed for rapid land clearance and development. Housing density roughly decreases with distance from the Lighthouse. Most of the shore up to Hogg Heaven, large tracts of land along the coasts, and all up the hill have been cleared or are about to be cleared for development. The proposed new Negril sewage line ends at the Lighthouse. As sewage treatment will not extend to this area, the sewage is likely to be discharged into the ground. Because the ecological status of neighboring reefs may deserve high protection status under the proposed Negril Marine Park, no further development should be permitted along this coast until provision is made for treatment of all sewage generated in the area. This can be accomplished by extending sewage collection lines from the Lighthouse to serve the population beyond, by pumping and tanking of septic tank effluents to the new sewage treatment plant at Sheffield, by provision of solar composting toilets, and by development of small-scale tertiary sewage treatment. Sewage treatment should not be limited to new coastal developments. It should also include the large resident populations on the southern slopes and shores of Negril Hill who commute to Negril or engage in farming or fishing, and whose sewage is ultimately discharged alone this coastline.
4) HOMER'S COVE TO SOLOMON'S POINT
Except for artesian fishing from Little Bay and Homer's Cove, this area has had little shoreline development. Steep offshore topography and submarine canyons provide relatively little area for fore reef fish trap deployment, so offshore fishing has been more common. The majority of the coastline is undeveloped, but a road has been built along the shore from Little Bay almost all the way to Solomon's Point (also known as St. John's Point). Extensive bulldozing of shore sand indicates that there is a clear intent by the owners to subdivide and develop the entire beach shore east of Homer's Cove
Jamaican geological maps show that this coast is made up of the same limestone formation as Negril Hill, but this interpretation can not result from actual study of the site. The coast is composed not of limestone but of a brown quartz and clay beach backed by a brackish margined swamp on clay soils. The flat flood plain is derived from sediments washed into the area from the New Savanna River and Cabaritta River to the east, which are derived from weathering and erosion of soils in the Georges Plain and non-limestone hills of central and northern Westmoreland. The high amount of fine grained clays makes near shore waters extremely muddy.
Turbidity is transported westward by prevailing currents from the mouth of the New Savanna River, which lies to the east of Solomon's Point. Mud is swept around the Point and along the shore to Little Bay. Because these coastal waters are likely to be highly turbid except during unusually calm and dry conditions, they are unlikely to be attractive for swimming or snorkeling. Seawater near Solomon's Point was so opaque with pale suspended clays that visibility was only a few inches. The bottom was densely covered with algae adapted to turbid conditions, including species of Gracilaria terete ("Irish Moss") suitable for mariculture. Coral reef structures offshore were made of dead, severely eroded coral heads. Some corals had not been seriously damaged by hurricane caused physical fragmentation, and dead coral surfaces as deep as 60 feet in Homer's Cove were mostly bare and covered with sediment. Algae abundance, dominated by Hypnea musciformis, Bryothamnion, Halimeda, and Dictyota, was moderate, and high nutrient indicating species were not seen. As visibility improved eastward, live coral cover increased. Nevertheless, well past the terminus of the quartz sand beach, the reefs offshore from the rocky limestone by Homer's Cove had only about 30% coral cover on hard ground, with the rest largely bare or sediment covered dead coral. This indicates that the muddy river plume had influenced reefs well beyond the range to which quartz sand had been transported along the shore. Live corals in Homer's Cove generally appeared healthy, although many Montastrea annularis appeared to have patchy bleaching which was rare in Long Bay and most other sites examined. This could have been due to local freshwater and mud stress events during the severe rain and flooding events which took place in 1991 and 1992.
Although clearly subject to Hurricane damage in shallow exposed sites, reefs in this area appeared to have mainly been killed by excessive sediments transported from the east. It is not possible to tell at present when these corals were killed, as the watershed has been used for intensive sugar cultivation for over 300 years. There was little sign of eutrophication. Any development of the beach that results in water sports, dredging, inappropriate shore construction, or use of groins, will increase water turbidity downstream all the way to Little Bay. Development here should be strictly controlled to prevent damage to the reefs downstream because this area has the most muddy and unstable sediments in the proposed Negril Park region. Recovery of reefs will only be possible if physical alteration to the beach and shallow zone is prevented, and if the erosion problem in all of central and northern Westmoreland is brought under control. Lack of living reef protection for coasts offshore from these muddy areas places future beach housing at risk from damage from storm waves and surges.
5) BROUGHTON/ HOPE WHARF TO SAVANNA LA MAR
The area off this shore has been mapped in detail for nautical charts because Savanna la Mar has been a major port since Spanish times. Old charts show a well-developed barrier reef offshore. It was not possible to examine this reef structure directly, but satellite images suggest it has been seriously damaged by sedimentation because the area is hidden in the muddy plumes from the Cabaritta River, New Savanna River, Georges Plain, and the Savanna la Mar urban area. This stretch of coast is the most turbid in Westmoreland since it receives the major erosion sediment load of the parish. Fishermen of the area specialize in fishing better reefs further away, deep water line fishing, or fishing offshore banks, because of the deterioration of shallow reefs.
The water at Hope Wharf was extremely turbid, and probably clears only rarely. Beach sediment is largely quartz and clay transported from the New Savanna river to the west and the Cabaritta river to the east. Limestone fragments in the sand comes from shells of sediment dwelling bivalves. Algae cast along the beach were largely Dictyota washed in from offshore, and did not include seagrasses or Gracilaria, suggesting inshore conditions are too muddy for either to survive.
The condition of the offshore barrier reef structure and of corals in deeper water needs to be evaluated to determine if there exists any possibility of their recovery. The chances of reef recovery would seem remote because it requires changes in the land-use practices of both the large sugar plantations and small farmers in the central hills and plains. This coastal watershed receives the major part of the parish's sewage and garbage, and most of its fertilizer and pesticide usage. This watershed is currently the site of a persistent typhoid outbreak, and inadequate sewage facilities for upstream rural populations make it a potential locus for a cholera epidemic. Bathing should not be permitted without full water quality assessment and public health monitoring, as at time of writing all sewage treatment facilities in Westmoreland were said to have ceased to operate properly, with the result that raw sewage was said to be discharged straight into rivers.
6) SAVANNA LA MAR TO BLUFF POINT
An extremely well developed offshore barrier reef exists from south of Savanna la Mar towards Bluff Point. This area normally lies up current from the sediment plumes from the Cabaritta River, and it is protected from the much smaller plume of the Paradise River by Bluff Point. Almost the entire coastline along this zone remains in undisturbed mangrove, protecting the coastal zone from sediment runoff. As one the largest and healthiest stretches of coastal mangrove in Jamaica, this area is need of protection. Around Bluff Point itself a small but surprisingly diverse fringing reef is found. A shallow expanse of muddy water lies between Bluff Point and the River mouth. Lush sea grass beds stretch both east across Bluefields Bay, and west to Savanna la Mar.
The shallow offshore barrier reef structure was probably once the largest, broadest, and best developed such reef in Jamaica. The broad reef flat, made of huge interlacing Acropora palmata colonies, had dramatic vertical relief on all sides, but was severely damaged during Hurricane Gilbert. Local fishermen using these reefs are notorious for their widespread use of dynamite. The reef top was observed to be covered with circular blast craters of pulverized coral rubble. none of these areas had been recolonized by corals, and most remained completely barren of life, although a few were covered by large mats of Stochiactis anemones or by algae. Areas which have been dynamited do not recover their fish populations, and so are never deliberately dynamited again by fishermen. Close inspection of an aerial photograph of the reef crest, kindly provided by Tony Clarke, showed that characteristic circular crater marks practically covered the entire reef flat. Although healthy young Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis were seen in deeper waters, there is only a tiny fraction of their former cover, so perhaps a half century free of further stress might be required for their recovery. Algae cover was generally fairly low except in patches which are protected by territorial damsel-fish, and algae species indicative of eutrophic conditions were rare. These relatively favorable conditions for reef regeneration should remain in force as long as the mangrove shoreline vegetation is preserved intact.
In contrast to the devastation and barren conditions seen on the barrier reef crest, deeper reefs were in good to excellent condition. Corals were extremely large, healthy, and were forming actively growing reef buttress and canyon formations. Although observations were made to only around 60 feet, there is good reason to believe that deeper reefs are at least equally good. The area probably has many excellent potential dive sites which could be marked by moorings. The entire reef should be surveyed in detail, especially deeper parts. If shallow areas were to recover, the barrier reef could become a major attraction for snorkeling. The reef tract as a whole should be a national protected area because it may be the best developed and largest offshore barrier reef in Jamaica.
At present the shallow reef crest structure is being actively eroded by boring organisms, and shallow reef corals have barely returned on the top of the dynamited reef crest. This seriously compromises shore protection for the port of Savanna la Mar from storm waves. The importance of restoring this reef structure is reinforced by the occasions recorded in Jamaican history when unexpected storm surges destroyed all buildings and killed the entire population of Savanna la Mar.
7) BLUEFIELDS BAY/SURINAM QUARTERS/WHITEHOUSE BAY
Bluefields Bay is largely occupied by extremely productive seagrass beds, much in depths between 2 to 3 metres, sloping towards deep offshore reefs. The shore is fringed by mangroves, beaches, and limestone rocks, and is only moderately populated. Waters in Bluefields Bay are exceptionally clear and thought to have very little pollution. Bluefields Bay seagrass beds and the smaller bays along the coast to Whitehouse Bay are important fish nursery grounds according to knowledgeable local fishermen. Scores of freshwater springs occur in the Bay, derived from water percolating underground from nearby forested mountain slopes. The species composition and the pigmentation of algae such as Gracilaria terete, Bryothamnion triquetrum, Halimeda opuntia, Udotea, and Acanthophora spicifera growing around some of these springs suggest that waters near springs have adequate, but not excessive, nutrient levels providing near maximal coral reef biological health and productivity.
From the south end of Bluefields Bay along the coast a nearly continuous offshore reef crest parallels the entire coast of the Surinam Quarters south to Whitehouse Bay except for passes near river mouths. The reef crest grows right up to the surface, and interior lagoon waters are clear, protected, safe for swimming and boat traffic even when it is very rough offshore. The reef crest, composed largely of Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis, and brain corals, was damaged during Hurricane Gilbert but is recovering with vigourous growth of branching staghorn and elkhorn corals, and coral species diversity is high. Problem indicating algae species were not present and algal biomass was moderately high. Currently these shallow reefs must be regarded some of the best in Jamaica because their unusually good water quality conditions provides excellent prospects for long term recovery. Beautiful beaches, clear water, and exceptional coral growth near shore give shallow reefs in this area high potential for snorkeling if suitable areas are delimited, marked, and protected. Efforts to do so should be done in conjunction with the Bluefields Development Association, a local non-profit organization seeking sustainable development which protects the area's natural resources.
Deeper offshore reefs were not examined during this work due to lack of time, but conditions in shallow areas suggest that those areas are likely to provide excellent diving, and should be surveyed in detail. The diversity of marine habitats, the richness of the nursery grounds in shallow bays, the excellent reef growth, and the high potential for mariculture in Bluefields Bay make protection of this region's great natural beauty from sewage, sediment, over-fishing and other forms of inappropriate development a major national conservation priority.
The major source of sediment in the entire region is from Whitehouse Bay, into which a river empties. Water quality in the Bay is poor because of turbidity from suspended river-transported clays in shallow water. The beach is made of quartz sand and mud rather than of white coral reef sand, and the seagrass beds are poorly developed in shallow water due to turbidity. Nevertheless, fringing reefs are sufficiently far offshore that they are still in fairly good condition despite episodic moderate sediment stress.
Current development plans for Whitehouse Bay include establishing large (reportedly more than 400 room) all-inclusive hotels plus numerous villas, smaller hotels, restaurants, and other tourism developments along the shore and hills near Auchindown. Because of unsuitable conditions of the muddy shallow zone for bathing, no effort should be made to dredge out the area in order to deepen it for motorized water sports such as water skiing and parasailing. Dredging in this area would kill the reef offshore, and the resulting mud plume would probably seriously damage the entire reef tract down current along the Surinam Quarters to Bluefields.
8) BLOODY BAY
Bloody Bay continued to show signs of excessive nutrient stress during 1992. Large amounts of the high nutrient indicating algae species Ulva lactuca, Enteromorpha sp., Chaetomorpha linum, and Dictyosphaeria cavernosa were cast up and raked away on the bathing beaches along southern Bloody Bay. The area may be subject to leakage of nutrients under the beach from the UDC sewage plant outfall across the road in the adjacent Morass. This has caused flooding of low ground by the vendor's craft market near the effluent discharge area where a now-blocked culvert had previously allowed direct drainage under the road into Bloody Bay. Seagrass beds near Bloody Bay beach were unhealthy in appearance, with extensive patches of blue green algae on the bottom near the more developed shores. Shallow reefs at the mouth of the Bay are in poor condition due to hurricane damage and overgrowth by Sargassum hystrix and other algae, but the fore reefs from 30 to 70 feet are in good condition, with very high gorgonian biomass and unusual abundance of large colonies of the uncommon coral Eusmilia fastigiata.
Water sport activities that generate a wake, such as fast boats, water skiing, parasailing, or jet skis, should not be allowed in Bloody Bay as they will cause a turbidity problem by resuspending fine grained sediments. The reduced water transparency which would be caused would further reduce its quality as a bathing beach and the health of its corals and sea grass beds. Coral growth at Little Bloody Bay should be protected for snorkeling and glass bottom boat viewing.
Extensive development is planned for Bloody Bay by UDC after divestment, because the beautiful white sand beach and shallow, protected waters are ideal for bathing. The protected conditions could allow rapid algal eutrophication unless excess nutrient inputs are strictly controlled. The fact that such development is contemplated around Bloody Bay even though the sewage line ends short of the area to be developed bodes ill for future water quality in the Bay. All further development in this area should be subject to a moratorium until the sewage line is extended to serve the Bloody Bay area.
9) NORTH NEGRIL POINT TO ORANGE POINT
Reefs in this area fringe a steep exposed rocky shore which is entirely unpopulated. They have been seriously impacted since 1960 by the dredging of the Orange River Canal. This discharged large amounts of peat and soil onto reefs which had previously been free of land-derived sediment before the river's diversion. Suspended sediments are transported into the Orange River from the East Morass canal which drains most of the Morass, as well as from limestone and non-limestone hills of interior Westmoreland via the Orange River. These areas are the highest, rainiest, and most erodable parts of the watershed. During the rainy season, the reef is often hidden below a tea-colored brown plume extending up to a quarter mile offshore, depending on current directions at the time. The central area is strongly affected by brown fresh water runoff.
Large areas of bare dead coral are seen near the canal mouth, mostly not colonized by algae. Large amounts of easily resuspended peat sediments are often seen on the bottom, except after heavy storms. High nutrient indicating algae were not prominent. Further away from the river mouth, and in deeper waters, reefs along the shore appear to be in fairly good condition, with well developed parallel buttress formations starting in around 15 to 20 feet depth. This area may contain some good dive sites, but they would need to be well marked by buoys because the area is open to swells from the North, especially in winter. There is little information available on reefs of the area, especially deeper areas, where there is thought to be a good deep reef drop-off. A detailed ecological survey of the area is needed.
The shoreline is at present completely undeveloped, yet it may be subject to development speculation because of its rocky cliffs, well-developed forests with huge old trees, and proximity to Negril. The area was recommended for protection (Goreau, 1960), and much of it should be preserved as part of a terrestrial park. A moratorium on development along this coast should be enforced until sewage infrastructure is provided.
10) ORANGE BAY
Orange Bay has a nearly complete and intact fringe of mangroves separating the water from the garbage dump and from the town of Orange Bay. The garbage dump, serving Negril and Lucea, is a current or potential source of solid, liquid, and air pollution, and if the mangroves are not protected, garbage could be washed into the Bay by storms. Although the plant is due to be closed in late May 1993, an alternative site has not yet been named. The population of Orange Bay is undergoing considerable expansion from new housing schemes. These include both tourist villas and housing for Negril area employees, and more large future developments are planned in the next wave of satellite expansion of the Greater Negril tourist region. There are no sewage lines connecting these areas to the proposed Sheffield treatment plant.
Orange Bay has very rich seagrass beds and very well developed parallel reefs at its mouth. The reef is recovering well from damage done by Hurricane Gilbert. Corals are large and healthy, but there are signs of a problem with Sargassum hystrix, the algae which was a serious problem in deep Long Bay reefs in 1991. This species was nearly equally abundant in Orange Bay fore reef waters near the main channel from 10 to 50 feet in late 1992, as it had been in Long Bay in 1991, with meter long streamers. Its high abundance at this site was unexpected, so algae in the area need to be watched carefully to determine if a serious algae problem may just now be developing.
Water transparency is very good, far better than Negril, and pollution is likely to be far lower due to smaller population and better water circulation. The water clarity also results from protection from eroded sediments by the undeveloped shoreline mangroves and diversion of the Orange River, which formerly entered the south end of the Bay, and was diverted westward into the Orange River Canal in 1960. The reefs at the mouth of the bay provide first rate snorkeling conditions because of excellent reef vertical structure, buttresses, and the presence of the anchor, chain, ballast, and parts of several wrecks which appear to date from roughly 200 years ago based on the maximum size of corals growing on them. At that time Orange Bay had been a sugar port, which was subsequently abandoned.
Orange Bay reefs present a nearly complete range of habitats and submarine reef topographies for snorkeling, and many parts of it should be set aside for marked snorkeling trails. The shoreline mangroves need to be preserved in their entirety in order to maintain the Bay's clarity and ecological value as a fish nursery and turtle hatchery. The deeper reefs have not been examined, but very well developed reef buttresses at 20 to 50 feet depth suggest that deeper reefs may also still have the first-rate diving sites they had in the past. Orange Bay has exceptional potential for diving and snorkeling if suitable areas are clearly marked by moorings and if excellent water quality can be maintained. All wrecks should be mapped, and remains protected as a diver attraction and for archaeological study. The ecological and environmental history of the area should be reconstructed from study of coral growth records.
Orange Bay is at present the focus of intensive harvesting of shells, starfish, and other marine organisms for sale as curios in Negril. Valuable and slow growing species, which naturally reach very large sizes in Orange Bay, are being killed. The preference for large shells removes those individuals responsible for most of the spawning, and leaves species vulnerable to local extinction or genetic impoverishment. It is not yet known if local fishermen are already aware of past or potential species extinctions, and of the need to allow populations to recover from overharvesting if they are to be managed sustainably. Public education, protected nursery zones, and the development of mariculture alternatives for growing high quality marine organisms are urgent priorities for Orange Bay if it is included in the proposed Negril Marine Park.
Orange Bay is slated for major development in the near future, and the Prime Minister has decreed that it be the next development focus in northeastern Jamaica. Because the exceptional shallow reefs could deteriorate significantly if unwise development follows the path of Negril and other parts of Jamaica, it is essential to extend the sewage line to Orange Bay, and the strictest moratorium should be enforced until sewage infrastructure is in place. The Prime Minister, in his speech at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, pointed out the fragile nature of Jamaica's ecosystems, and the particular need to protect reefs as the basis of tourism. It is especially important that developments in Orange Bay are conducted in a way which fully protect the living natural resources on which they are based, by ensuring that the environmental deterioration which has occurred in other "developed" parts of the island be avoided in Orange Bay.
11 ) SAMUEL'S BAY
Samuel's Bay, which adjoins Orange Bay to the north, has long been regarded as having some of the most diverse and best developed reefs in Jamaica, and was long proposed as a scientific reserve (Goreau, 1960). Corals here are unusually large, old, and rapidly growing. In a survey of coral growth rates in the Negril area in 1986, the most rapid growth rates were found in Samuel's Bay The sites studied are shown in Map 2 (Goreau, et al., 1988) These reefs are among those Jamaican reefs most in need of protection on grounds of exceptional growth rate, diversity, and productivity, and deserve the highest status of protection as part of the proposed Negril Marine Park. These reefs escaped damage from Hurricane Allen, which affected most of the north coast, but the shallow fore reef areas were seriously impacted by Hurricane Gilbert, especially the Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis zones. The back-reef seagrass beds and the reef crest areas offer exceptional snorkeling because reef growth is unusually vigorous, and there are many buttresses and canyons. Shallow reefs and turtle grass beds are in extremely good condition, and free from high nutrient indicating algae. Bryothamnion triqetrum, Laurencia, Halimeda, Penicillus, Udotea, and Avranvillea species are especially abundant.
The immediately adjacent shoreline is almost entirely undeveloped, although sugar plantations lie inland of a forested coastal strip. The beauty of the shore, its charming beaches, excellent swimming, and proximity to the main road make it a likely spot for future development. The ecological status of the area calls for especially stringent controls on shore line development, and none should be permitted until adequate sewage infrastructure is in place. Dredging and shoreline construction which causes turbidity should be banned.
The Samuel's Bay fore reef from 20 to 60 feet was observed in late 1992 to be densely covered by mats of Cladophoropsis macromeres, which covered about half the surface of buttress reefs. The absence of signs of eutrophication in shallower reefs and the appearance of these patches around possible subsurface nutrient sources, could suggest that the alarming growth of this high nutrient indicating algae may be driven by ground water nutrients entering the reef framework via underground caves. The area is a site of high subsurface groundwater discharges.
The possible presence of eutrophication on the fore reef in Samuel's Bay needs to be investigated further. The sources of nutrients for the Cladophoropsis mats needs to be determined, and the possible presence of high-nutrient freshwater inputs to the fore reef needs to be investigated by analyzing reef water, groundwater, and interstitial sediment and reef structure pore waters. The deep reefs need to be studied. The whole area should be a scientific monitoring reserve, and all other activities except glass bottom boat rides and bathing in demarcated areas should be banned. Excessive dredging land clearance and marl dumping has visibly affected water clarity in near shore areas, and there are clear signs of eutrophication and algae overgrowth of deeper reefs. These may be receiving nutrients from submarine springs, which could be derived from sugar cane fertilizer use south of the main road.
12) HALF MOON BAY
Half Moon Bay, just north of Samuel's Bay, is very different in shallow areas. Inshore and seagrass areas are unexceptional. There is little reef development shallower than 30 feet, and the bottom largely consists of bare hard limestone bedrock. Although there is rubble present indicating that corals were destroyed by recent hurricanes, there is little sign of recovery or of dead reef structure. The lack of reef framework might be due to the area being open to damage during northers because of steep deep fore reef orientation and topography which may focus wave energy from the north around the nearby point. Algae did not appear to be a problem down to 40 feet of depth. Deeper reefs were not investigated.
A beautiful white sand beach is being developed for bathing, although not yet well known. Beaches in this area should be checked to determine if they are turtle nesting beaches. There seems little potential for snorkeling or diving in the area unless deep reefs are very much better than the shallow ones. However, the area needs to be more thoroughly surveyed, and there are ship and airplane wrecks in the area which could be moored as dive sites. The fact that the area had formerly been a major conch breeding ground was indicated by a long line of dead shells where many dozen conch had apparently been found while on spawning migration. When conch hunters find such large numbers of their prey they extract the meat and discard the shell on the spot to avoid carrying it's weight. Conch are reported to subsequently avoid those sites.
13) GREEN ISLAND AREA
Green Island Harbour is extremely muddy, and appears to be polluted based on the high abundance of green algae similar to Ulva, Enteromorpha, and Chaetomorpha along the shore line. Although the Bay is unsuitable for corals, several well developed reef crest structures occur at the mouth of the Bay. Those nearest the Bay may have suffered from high turbidity and from algal overgrowth. It was not possible to directly investigate the reefs in the region between Green Island and Half Moon Bay, but based on studies in 1960 and discussions with local fishermen and divers, it is thought that some good reefs may exist around nearby headlands, away from the Bay's muddy plume.
Any of the future developments which are being planned in Green Island that could increase turbidity would have a negative impact on local reefs if they are done without due caution, and could impact Half Moon Bay, Samuels Bay, and Orange Bay as well. The brown quartz sand beaches and muddy water would seem to have modest potential for water sports, but good dive sites may exist in deeper water to the west and to the east of the Bay. Development should only proceed with caution until more detailed environmental impact assessment is conducted, and discussions are held with Green Island Fishermen regarding potential marine park boundaries and management zones.
14) NORTHERN HANOVER
Few direct observations are known of changes in northern Hanover reefs over the past three decades. There is still little tourism or diving except at the eastern end near Montego Bay. There appear to be excellent reefs offshore along all the limestone headlands, but the interiors of the larger bays are muddy from sediment carried by rivers draining non-limestone shale hills in the interior of the Parish. Water conditions are nearly always muddy in Lucea Harbour. Coastal waters near Green Island, Lucea, Hopewell, and Sandy Bay are turbid and appear to be polluted with nutrients based on the large amount of Ulva and Enteromorpha observed along the shore line and in shallow waters near towns. Except for areas immediately adjacent to river mouths and towns, water quality appears to be excellent along most limestone shores. Nearshore waters along limestone coasts are exceptionally clear, their seagrass beds are unusually lush, and problem algae are absent from the shorelines. The many small coves in the area may be important fish nursery grounds.
Although the reefs were viewed in 1992 only from low flying airplane and from shore rather than by diving, well developed reef crest structures are clearly present, often found in parallel. Steep topography suggested by nautical soundings suggest that excellent diving sites may be found along this shore. The region needs to be surveyed ecologically to establish which zones are in need of management or protection. Northern Hanover now has very limited tourism, but is slated for future expansion, so a detailed baseline survey of the area is an urgent priority. Sewage treatment provision is urgently needed in all coastal towns in Hanover. Further development should be permitted only after suitable infrastructure is in place to protect the area's great marine and terrestrial natural beauty. It would be a shame if the remarkably clear coastal waters of Northern Hanover were ruined by inappropriate development as has happened in the other coastal areas of Jamaica.
15) BOGUE/ MONTEGO BAY MARINE PARK
The Montego Bay National Marine Park covers the region from the Great River on the Hanover border to the western corner of the airport. The outer reef parts of this region, along with reefs near Ocho Rios which were in excellent condition at the time, were first officially proposed to the Beach Control Authority as a marine park in the mid 1950's by T. F. Goreau. Official action was delayed until 1991. The Marine Park regulations which were then adopted were virtually unchanged from those drafted over 35 years before. During this interval, reefs at both proposed parks were largely destroyed by dredging, sedimentation, and both land based and marine sources of pollution.
Montego Bay Marine Park waters include the port of the City of Montego Bay and the cruise ship terminal, and receive the bulk of the Parish's sewage, fertilizer, insecticides, sediment, and industrial pollution. These waters are probably the second most polluted in Jamaica after Kingston Harbor. Cruise ships have recently been charged fines by Park rangers for discharging garbage while at dock, and it is likely that illegal bilge tank flushing takes place in port. An oily surface slick is visible in the harbor area from land, sea, and air, and park rangers report that most marine life is dead in the inner areas.
Surviving corals are found on the northernmost fringes of the Park, where there is intense tourist boating activity and dense hotel development. This area is an alleged locus of ear infection complaints, and this needs to be fully documented. Some good reefs are still said to occur on the northernmost edge of the park, along the north facing wall near the airport, where development is impossible due to low flying planes. A recent description of the best reefs in the northernmost part of the park was made for the Montego Marine Park (J. Littau, 1992). His data suggest that the reefs were in very poor condition, although they were not so interpreted by him, because of very low coral cover and very high abundances of algae which are indicative of high nutrient conditions. Good reefs were reported by Montego Bay Marine Park Rangers to exist on the fringes of the artificial (dredge-dumped) Bogue Islands development, although many areas are still suffering sediment damage from the dredging and land filling which built up these small mangrove islands into a hotel, cruise ship port, and industrial area. It was not possible to check these reefs directly, but a detailed ecological survey is desirable because detailed studies were made of the area by T. F. Goreau in the 1950s before dredging took place, and there are good photographic records of the excellent reefs which occurred there at that time.
The area along the Bogue coast east of the Great River mouth was checked. A large number of dead coral heads, subjected to intense boring and erosion, were found fringing the shore in 5 to 10 feet depth. This reef had been dominated by Acropora palmata in the past, indicating that waters had formerly been clear. Water in the area was extremely turbid, and it would not be possible for that species to survive there now. The reef appeared to have been killed by sedimentation from the Great River and the Barnett River, algal overgrowth, probably stimulated by the large amount of raw sewage entering the Montego River from the city, hotels and villas all along the shore, and from fertilizer runoff from the extensive sugar cane fields inland. The dead coral was covered with sediment or dense mats of algae, many indicative of high nutrients, including Chaetomorpha linum, Ceramium nitens, Acanthophora spicifera, and Gracilaria species. The bottom was blanketed in large amounts of dead algal fragments and seagrass detritus from offshore. The Chalet Caribe area nearby had excellent diving reefs only five years ago, but sport diving operations have been abandoned there due to severe reef deterioration.
Unless nutrient releases into the Montego Bay Marine Park are drastically curtailed, the remaining reef surviving in the Park could be overgrown within a few years. The area does not appear to now contain ecosystems of ecological significance, and it is subject to extreme pollution and turbidity, making it unattractive, if not actually medically unwise, to swim in most of it. Detailed pollution and microbiological studies should be made of the entire Park waters to determine if swimming should be permitted. The Park does not yet have a pollution and nutrient monitoring program in place, and so is poorly placed to identify all but the most obvious sources. Nor does it yet appear to exercise legal authority to control all sources of pollution or erosion in the watershed. A park is inviable if existing ecosystems are of little value and cannot be protected against external threats, and sets an embarrassing precedent for future Marine Parks. Pollution abatement in Montego Bay Harbour should be urgently enforced under the Port Authority Laws. The Marine Park should be moved to a more suitable site, where the highly motivated Marine Park Rangers can do a more effective job of protecting Jamaica's most valuable marine ecosystems instead of one of the most damaged.
16) ST. JAMES/TRELAWNY
If most of the marine ecosystems of the currently demarcated Montego Bay Marine Park do not appear to deserve protected status, all the other coastal zones of St. James probably do. They are not subject to pollution from Montego Bay because they are located up current from it. The area from the airport east has a well developed reef crest along most of the shore, and steep outer reef topography provides excellent wall diving, with spectacular canyons and caves. Most of the coastline is still undeveloped or in pasture, but there are expanding numbers of intense foci of hotel development, housing estates, and squatter communities. Reefs near these areas are likely to be subject to nutrient stress.
The shore along this zone has long been subject to severe fishing pressure from fish traps and spearfishing (Aiken, 1992), and was the major area in the island for collection of corals for sale to tourists. This has now fortunately stopped during 1992, after the police began to enforce NRCA rulings resulting from Jamaica's ratification of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. While the coral trade took place, it targeted the two most important reef crest corals, Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata, and so did serious damage to local shoreline protection from hurricane and storm waves.
Coral reefs in this region have great potential for diving, snorkeling, and swimming. As the area is the likely future axis for expansion for the Montego Bay tourist industry, it is critical that full sewage treatment capacity for the entire population of the area, including poor neighborhoods, precede further development, so that the marine resources can be kept attractive for both fishing and ecotourism and avoid the fate of reefs in Montego Bay.
Reefs along Trelawny, especially Maria Buena Bay, were pristine in the 1960s and 1970s, and excellent wall diving is found. However Falmouth Harbour receives major mud discharges from the Martha Brae River and sewage from the town. Unwise development schemes in the 1960s killed the coastal mangroves which nourished the naturally luminescent plantonic microorganisms that made the area a unique natural attraction, and the phosphorescence took around 25 years to recover. Trelawny shores are slated for large numbers of development schemes which could adversely affect the health of the reefs unless appropriate environmental safeguards are first taken. Only an aerial and shoreline based survey was possible during 1992, and more detailed assessment is needed.
17) RIO BUENO
The mouth of the Rio Bueno forms the boundary between Trelawny and St. Anns. The river normally runs clear or green, but turns red with mud during flood rains. These sediments are normally transported westward by strong coastal currents, making reefs on the west side of the spectacular submarine canyon very different from those on the east. Nevertheless, both show incredible vertical relief, falling from as little as a few feet deep straight down to over 400.
Reefs to the west of the river have been seriously affected by sediment and flood waters from the river, and they were also devastated by Hurricane Allen and Gilbert, so that very little live coral is now to be seen (T. Hughes, personal communication). The east side, in contrast, was spared serious damage by both hurricanes because of its orientation, except in the shallow fore reef, which is recovering well, with Acropora species returning. Submarine topography of Rio Bueno is unique because exceptionally rapid outward growth of the reef has produced incredible caves, grottos, and overhanging reefs. Coral populations are very diverse and exceptionally brightly colored and healthy in appearance. Rio Bueno Bay is a major fish nursery, probably the most important alone the central north coast of Jamaica, and large deepwater fish are common visitors. It may also be a turtle-nesting site.
East Rio Bueno deserves the very highest national priority for fully protected status because of its remarkable reef structures and excellent snorkeling and diving. No further coastline development should be permitted, and existing houses should be required to have full sewage treatment. The area also has some of the best developed fossil reefs and ancient sea level notches in Jamaica, which should be protected as Global Heritage educational and scientific sites because they are one of the best places in the world to understand the effects of climate change. Adjacent land areas should be protected as Arawak Indian and early Spanish archaeological sites, where Columbus killed the first Arawaks in Jamaica in order to seize their water and food. The entire Bay and town, with its remarkable historic architecture, large number of ancient Arawak Indian graves and artifacts, and more recent slave burial grounds, should be protected along with the Bay's marine habitats as a National Ecological/Historical/Cultural Treasure. Fully protected scientific reserve status is needed for the East Rio Bueno Reef and all archaeological and rare geological sites. It is imperative that this area avoid the serious deterioration which has taken place in nearby Discovery Bay, and a planned and orderly development process should be initiated to focus on preserving the remarkable historic, cultural, and scientific importance of Rio Bueno for posterity.
18) DISCOVERY BAY
Discovery Bay reefs, after having been severely battered by a decade of hurricanes, excess nutrients, and mass bleaching, appear to have largely passed the point of no return in the last year. Bay waters have become hyper-eutrophic and exceptionally turbid with phytoplankton. Increasing urban development has accelerated the amount of raw sewage discharged into the Bay, and high incidence of ear infections among tourists indicates that bathing in Discovery Bay waters may incur public health hazards. The Discovery Bay fish nursery grounds, which were once teeming with fish and rivaled Rio Bueno (Goreau et al., 1986), has become a virtual biological desert as a result of over collecting by both the Discovery Bay Marine Lab and local fishermen. No trace of the original rich nursery now remains except for a pathetic handful of damselfish and squirrel fish hiding in the most remote crevices.
Algae have continued to proliferate, and their ecological zones have steadily expanded outwards. By late 1992 Chaetomorpha linum, once confined to the innermost springs and then to the back reef, had moved its range out on to the top of the reef crest. Lagoon areas had large amounts of Dictyosphaeria cavernosa, the algae which overgrew corals and killed sewage-impacted reefs in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. This algae, formerly extremely rare in Discovery Bay, is now found in large encrusting masses throughout the back reef area. Inner reef areas also had large amounts of Ernodesmis verticillata, and innermost lagoon areas were taken up by Ulva lactuca and Enteromorpha. All these species are high nutrient indicator species, with Ulva and Enteromorpha marking the most extremely polluted sewage sites.
On the shallow fore reef some small scale Acropora palmata recovery is taking place, but by late 1992 almost the entire fore reef was occupied by waving mats of Sargassum Hystrix, about 50 cm or more high. Coral cover was only a few percent as deep as 90 feet on a video transect taken by B. Lapointe in late 1992. The pace of coral overgrowth has become so severe in Discovery Bay that there is now little prospect of recovery. Because nutrient sources include both local pollution and that transported from the centre of the island via underground rivers (Goreau et al., 1988), there is little prospect of short or medium term recovery. Large scale construction of a rubble and soil dock at the lab are about to deliver the coup de grace to the back reef zone by elevating mud levels and blocking circulation of the nursery areas. The purpose of this construction is not to protect the species diversity of the remaining reef but to hasten its depauperization by using research submarines to remove large numbers of slow growing deep sea organisms for research experiments. The ecological devastation that has been observed in Discovery Bay over the past 40 years is so severe and accelerated so quickly that there is now no ecological merit in establishing West Discovery Bay as a scientific reserve or research park for the study of coral reefs, as has been proposed in the PARC project in reactivation of the original Discovery Bay Marine Lab proposal made 30 years ago. The object lessons of reef destruction at Discovery Bay should be thoroughly learned so they can be avoided elsewhere
GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR JAMAICA COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION
Coral reefs along all commercially developed shores examined in Western Jamaica show visible stress during 1992 from algal overgrowth caused by excessive levels of nutrients derived from sewage, sedimentation stress, or both. Reefs along undeveloped coastlines are still in good condition unless they were severely damaged by hurricanes or strongly affected by river sediments. Many Western Jamaican reefs have exceptional conservation value because of high biodiversity, unusual growth rates, large coral sizes, spectacular reef growth and topography, or fish nurseries. Preserving these remaining reefs and realizing their tremendous potentially sustainable value for fishing, mariculture, bathing, diving, snorkeling, boating, water sports, environmental protection, scientific research, and other uses for future generations, requires that development in high conservation priority zones avoid taking the environmentally disastrous course which has been followed so far in Jamaica. This is best achieved through increases in nutrient removal efficiency from sewage effluents.
Development in all environmentally-sensitive areas should therefore not be permitted until after all sewage infrastructure is completed. Strict controls are needed on all activities in the water and its watershed which could damage nearby reefs. Reefs all around the island need to be thoroughly surveyed with regard to their current health, ongoing and potential threats, current and potential uses, and conservation needs. A long term environmental monitoring program has long been urgently needed, but there has been little meaningful progress towards this to date.
Reef restoration would be beneficial at exposed coastal sites where the shallow reef has been largely destroyed. A suitable approach could be techniques developed by Hilbertz and Goreau on the North Coast. Corals were attached to or settled naturally on underwater structures on which magnesium and calcium minerals were precipitated from sea water by electrical currents. Corals readily cemented themselves onto the structures and grew exceptionally rapidly, from thumb to fist sized pieces to colonies the size of a football in two years. Corals in identical habitats nearby grew very slowly or died from being overgrown by algae. The structures created a small thriving reef community containing half a dozen coral species, maintaining prolific growth of the sand producing algae Halimeda tuna and Jania rubens, and provided shelter for fish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, cuttlefish, oysters, and other species. The dominant reef crest coral, Acropora palmata, settled naturally onto the structure. Such artificial reef structures could be used as bases for growing Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis, and other fast growing reef species for regenerating reef crests at sites in need of shore protection.
A nationwide integrated coastal zone management regime is imperative. This should be under the leadership of the National Resources Conservation Authority, but decision making should be in the hands of local NGOs focusing on regional environmental protection and management. Admirable existing fisheries laws are known not to be enforced, are routinely and openly violated without sanction, and are unwise because they lead to contempt for laws in general. In practice, all activities are now permitted unless they are specifically and enforceably prohibited. It would be better to have the opposite situation: in which all coastal waters are zoned on the principle that no activities are allowed unless they are expressly permitted in that zone.
Such a regime may seem utopian in light of the well-known anarchic impulses of Jamaican developers and fishermen, but it is surely in the long term interest of both. At present the two factions are competing to destroy the reef for short sighted gain when they need to cooperate to protect what they could both lose through lack of foresight. Any effective coastal zone management regime must reflect fully the interests and cooperation of all major resource users in each area. In Negril and Ocho Rios these may be watersports and dive operators, in Montego Bay it would be commercial port operations and cruise ship docking, but in most of Jamaica it will be locally resident fishermen.
All coastal zones should have a grass-roots local organization which establishes a regional effort to identify and protect the most crucial local habitats, ensure that local water usage and land management does not abuse the reef environment, and develops a local consensus for these values based on public environmental education. They should be headed by residents who are frequently in the water and who have a firm commitment to bettering their environment for the future. These organizations could help monitor changes in the local environment, and take routine samples for long-term monitoring programs. A cooperative outreach program could be developed to provide them with periodic scientific expertise to identify local reef problems and design solutions to them. Recently several local organizations which could play such a role have developed in Jamaica, such as the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society, The Portland Environmental Protection Association, the Bluefield Community Association, and others. Most environmentally sensitive zones of Jamaican coastline still lack such effective local groups. Development of new local environmental protection organizations badly needs to be supported, and organizations with greater access to funds and expertise need to find ways to share these resources with groups which are less fortunate.
Over the past decade a new paradigm for conservation, the "private sector park model", has become dominant in planning agencies in developing countries, especially Jamaica. This approach holds that environmental management is best conducted on a "self income generating capacity", i.e. as a private business. While this approach may have advantages with regard to managerial efficiency, it results in conservation priority being placed on those areas most likely to be readily able to generate excess capital for infrastructural investment. Following this approach, parks are most likely to be declared in areas which have high existing capital investment in tourism (areas which are, ipso facto, degraded), rather than in those areas which are most in need of conservation for scientific reasons. This approach, which led to the establishment of the Montego Bay Marine Park, leaves reefs off undeveloped shorelines with the least potential to raise the capital urgently needed for their protection, the opposite of real long term conservation needs.
Because marine environmental protection is currently regarded as a free public good (i.e. a service for which the individual does not need to pay), management on a private-sector model inherently misallocates resources where they are least needed, and so does not provide an adequate basis for sound and sustainable long term ecosystem management. As a public good such as water supply, sewage treatment, health services, education, and other public services, funding for environmental protection should be provided on a national basis. It should be allocated where most needed according scientifically-sound priorities, and designed to maximize environmental protection, restoration, and regeneration of Jamaica's natural resources, rather than on maximizing short term financial profit. Past and current paths of Jamaica's "development" have led to the raping of the Jamaican environment, especially forests and reefs, by those who could clearly see quick profits but who have left behind a ruined or degraded landscape for the next generation A fundamental change in public attitudes is needed if Negril is to avoid the fate of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, and create a more beautiful island for our children's children.
I gratefully thank a large number of other divers, swimmers, fishermen, and boaters, for sharing their knowledge about specific sites. These include Katy Thacker, Karen McCarthy, Craig Travis, Peter Goreau, Cy MacFarlane, Peter Graham, Dalton Sutton, Lowan Lawrence, Larry Smith, Clive Maxwell, William Hogg, Jackie Lewis of Jackie's on the Reef, Sharon Russell, Nadine Loeb, Tony Clarke. Terry Williams, Fabian, Ceylon Clayton, Cyril Connell, Gee, Fatta, the Montego Bay Marine Park Rangers, and many others.
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