The Importance of Beaches to the heritage (Birthright) of our Island Nation Jamaica
Our island nation Jamaica or Xaymaca which means "land of wood and water" is our home that needs to be protected and preserved for all future generations. The beauty of Jamaica's physical environment forms one of the major pillars of our heritage that is worth protecting. Our beaches are one of our greatest treasured natural resources that enshrines this beauty and it belongs to all of us.
Our pristine and rustic beaches are themselves living entities and are part of the soul of our island nation. They are limited and fragile environmental entities that need to be cherished. Some of our fondest holiday memories, spiritual awakening and inspiration happen on our beaches. Our fisherfolks help feed this nation from the sea. Part of our darkest history can be told on the beaches of Jamaica on which our enslaved ancestors landed and were dehumanized by slavery.
“The world needs to fundamentally overhaul how society measures economic success if it is to stem the rapid decline of biodiversity that threatens civilization itself.”
“In common law, the public has no general rights of access to the foreshore or the floor of the sea or to beaches. There are no general common-law rights over the foreshore except to pass over it for the purpose of navigation or fishing” Peter Knight, CEO NEPA The Jamaica Gleaner January 20, 2017.
The Beach Control Act of Jamaica is the legal document that regulates the beach and sea around Jamaica. The document was written when Jamaica was a colony of England in 1956, which was before Jamaica became “free and independent” in 1962. The Beach Control Act of Jamaica was updated in 2004 without significant modifications to protect the beach heritage and environment of Jamaica.
Jamaicans have no natural rights to access the beach and use the sea
“The most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”-Steve Beko
As described in the Beach Control Act of Jamaica, Jamaicans have no inherent rights to the beach. Section. 3 (4) of the Beach Control Act.
“(4) No person shall be deemed to have any rights in or over the foreshore of this Island or the floor of the sea save such as are derived from or acquired or preserved under or by virtue of this Act.”
If you go to bathe or swim, meditate, seek inspiration, baptism or just chill out, you have no guaranteed rights under current law or constitution to the sea.
Who owns the Jamaican Paradise?
Watch this video documentary
The laws and lack of laws in Jamaica have infringed upon the human rights of Jamaicans to access and use the sea around the island.
In recent years there has been an acceleration to restrict and block the public right to have unfettered access to the Caribbean sea in Jamaica. This is a carefully designed plan by the government with the private hotels/hoteliers (local and international) and wealthy beachfront property owners. The plan is very advanced in carving up Jamaican beach birthright and is akin to the Berlin conference of 1885 that divided Africa.
Rights of the bathing and fishing public.
In common law, the public has no general rights of access to the foreshore or the floor of the sea or to beaches. There is no general right of bathing. In Jamaica there is no statute that conveys any general rights over the foreshore or the floor of the sea save and except the provisions in the Beach Control Act. NEPA & Jamaican Government, 2000 & 2021
This plan includes no room for environmental and economic justice or diversification of a sustainable island economy of the future. Jamaica, an island, is rapidly becoming a landlocked people that will be barricaded away from our own beautiful shores. We will be unable to exercise the ancient right to enjoy our precious beaches. This is tantamount to blatant discrimination of the Jamaican people that has gone unchecked by successive governments.
Our fragile coast is now a more exclusive economic zone designed for marketability at the expense of the Jamaican people whose rights and liberty have been ignored. These practices are discriminatory and environmentally destructive. The destruction of our sandy shores disregards nature as a living entity and its sensitive ecosystem. This plan has been done with no consideration for the heritage of the Jamaican society and ordinary Jamaicans have no say in this master plan that will impact us for generations to come.
This is colonialism all over again!
The JaBBEM movement aims to restore Beach Rights and Justice for the unfettered access to all Jamaican beaches by everyone, and to advocate for environmental beach personhood for Jamaica’s beaches. We also aim to advocate for environmental and economic justice for nature and our people who have been marginalized yet again by special interests with the complicity of our government. Does this remind you of one of the greatest atrocities in our history? It is ironic that the same shores that our ancestors' black bodies were dehumanized, it is these same shores that have now become economic spaces from which we are excluded. You cannot use land ownership to exclude people from their beach birthright.
Will we stand for this?!
JaBBEM is a budding grassroot organization that is acutely aware of the adverse effects of misguided development and environmental injustice to beach, beach property and sensitive terrestrial ecosystems. These practices are in violation of the Jamaican people's human rights to access and use the sea. These forms of environmental colonization by the elites result in unsustainable economic growth and give rise to inequality, community deconstruction, crime, violence, social unrest and health issues. This organization is advocating for the liberation and protection of the beach environment and sensitive terrestrial ecosystems. We are advocating for guaranteed access to all beaches (beach birthright) by the institution of a legal framework and constitutional amendment in addition to the assignment of environmental personhood or the equivalent to beaches and sensitive terrestrial ecosystems.