The Goat Islands are not the best site for the transshipment port!

The Goat Islands are not the best site for the transshipment port!

An international study shows there may be better, cheaper and less environmentally damaging alternative sites for the proposed transshipment port and logistics hub.

Kingston, Jamaica: The Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF), today announced the findings of a cost-effectiveness assessment of four potential sites for the proposed transshipment port that China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) is proposing to build. CSF’s recommendations were presented to a group of senior decision-makers at a meeting at the Courtleigh Hotel today.

“Our Study shows that building this port on Goat Island is not the best choice either environmentally or financially,” said Aaron Bruner, Senior Economist at CSF. “Building at alternative sites nearby could both save millions of dollars and avoid irreparable environmental damage.” Mr. Bruner was the lead consultant for the cost effectiveness study that was carried out by CSF and Niras-Fraenkel Ltd. (NFL).

“The discussion of the appropriateness of Goat Islands as the site for the proposed port and logistics hub has often degenerated into ‘Iguanas versus development on the basis of very little information.’” said Nicole Brown, of CANARI and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), who chaired the session. “That’s why CEPF and Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation asked CSF to determine whether other sites might be competitive economically and have less environmental impacts.”

The study included an engineering study and an economic valuation. The engineering study was carried out by internationally-recognized port engineers NFL. They examined four sites that could potentially meet CHEC’s requirements: Goat Islands, Macarry Bay in southern Clarendon, Kingston Harbour and Bowden in St. Thomas. Of these, Macarry Bay offered the most directly comparable design, including a more efficient layout for transshipment. NFL estimated that the best design at Macarry Bay would cost US$200 million less to build than a low-cost scenario at Goat Islands. Furthermore, a port at Goat Islands would be more vulnerable to storm surge than other sites.

The environmental economic study was carried out by CSF. They quantified the unavoidable environmental damage that could be expected at the four locations. They found that the quantifiable costs of environmental damage resulting from a port at Goat Islands would be at least three times greater than those for an equivalent construction at another site. The assessment did not include the many impacts for which the necessary information for quantification was not available, such as, loss of options for more sustainable development, damage to the landscape and irreparable loss of habitats for globally threatened species. However, a qualitative assessment of showed that these would also be far worse at Goat Islands. In addition, the alternative sites are mostly outside the Portland Bight Protected Area, the Portland Bight and Cays Ramsar site (which is globally recognized wetland of international importance) and the proposed Portland Bight Biosphere Reserve.

CSF concluded that while there are no perfect sites, there are very likely good alternatives to building on Goat Islands.

“True ‘win-win’ scenarios like this are rare,” said Aaron Bruner. “We are very happy to be able to share these findings with decision-makers in Jamaica, and hope that building on Goat Islands will be reconsidered in light of appropriately detailed analysis of alternative sites.”

“It’s important to recognize that the purpose of this study was not to recommend a specific alternative site to Goat Islands but to raise questions in the national interest,” said Ingrid Parchment, Executive Director of Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation and Chairman of the Clarendon Parish Development Committee. “We support national initiatives to expand the economy and provide employment, as well as commitments to sustainable development and environmental conservation. Fortunately this study has shown that it is not necessary to sacrifice the Goat Islands.”


Funding for the CSF study was provided by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Francaise de Developpement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.

CSF is a California-based NGO advancing conservation solutions powered by economics. CSF analysts have proven the value of protected areas, shown how to build infrastructure at lower cost and with less damage, and nurtured local sustainable businesses.

Niras-Fraenkel Ltd is a UK-based international company. NFL is a leading name in port and marine engineering consultancy, with an excellent reputation for cost effective and innovative design.

The report was commissioned by Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM). C-CAM has been working to promote conservation of the Portland Bight Protected Area since 1998.