Jamaicans have no natural rights to access the beach and use the sea
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.
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.
There is no general right of fisherfolks to fish except if the fisherfolks were fishing from that beach before the 1st of June, 1956. Section. 3 (3a & 3b).
“(3) Except as provided in section 7, nothing in this Act contained shall be deemed to affect:
(a) any rights enjoyed by fishermen engaged in fishing as a trade, where such rights existed immediately before the 1st June, 1956, in or over any beach or adjoining land; or
(b) the enjoyment by such fishermen of the use of any part of the foreshore adjoining any beach or land in or over which any rights have been enjoyed by them up to the 1st June 1956.
Beachfront Land Owners
The beachfront property has all the rights of access and use of the beach. This is a reminder of the colonial era land laws designed to protect powerful property owners (further underscoring the segregationists policies that are still in practice).
As cited Section 3 (4)
(4) Any person who is the owner or occupier of any land adjoining any part of the foreshore and any member of his family and any private guest of his shall be entitled to use that part of the foreshore adjoining his land for private domestic purposes, that is to say, for bathing, fishing, and other like forms of recreation and as a means of access to the sea for such purposes:
Provided that where any land as aforesaid is let, the letting of which is in pursuance of a commercial enterprise, the right to the use of the foreshore for private domestic purposes shall only be by virtue of a license granted to the lessor under this Act.
Jamaicans now in 2021 and in the foreseeable future if not corrected have no guaranteed rights to the beach and sea as interpreted by the Beach Control Act (of 1956 and 2004), and constitution of Jamaica. The beach in itself is not adequately protected as a treasured environmental space by the laws of Jamaica. There are no laws in Jamaica that prevent a hotel from being built on the beach. Let us bind together to fix this.
Description of the guaranteed rights of Jamaican beach goers, fisherfolk, landowners and tourists to use the sea.