The coastline of Jamaica is approximately 795km (494 miles) long, with approximately 30 per cent (238.5km) characterized as sandy beach. Beaches are major sources of interest for stakeholders local and visitors alike. Jamaica’s beaches are managed by way of a licensing regime under the Beach Control Act (1956).
The Beach Control (Licensing) Regulations, 1999 outlines specific categories for which beach licences are required. The National Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) is the Beach Control Authority – the authority with the responsibility to grant or refuse applications - for beach licences.
Here are five (5) facts about beach licences.
Fact 1: A beach licence is authorized written permission for individuals or entities to use beach related lands that belong to the Crown for a period of time.
Fact 2: Beach licences are granted for four (4) main purposes:
- for the use of a beach for commercial use, recreational use and commercial industrial use
- for the construction/installation and maintenance of encroachments (permanent structures) on the foreshore and floor of the sea (for example, groynes, breakwaters, pylons)
- reclamation and nourishment
- capital and maintenance dredging
Fact 3: The use of a beach by private parties for personal use or enjoyment does not require a beach licence. However, if the beach is used for commercial use e.g. renting a villa or house for monetary gain such as AirBnB, then a beach licence is required.
Fact 4: Beach licences are granted/issued with general and specific conditions to guide how licensed activities are to be undertaken and managed. Conditions may speak to, for example, safety, preservation of natural resources such as marine fauna, monitoring and reporting and the proper handling of sewage effluent and noxious materials.
Fact 5: A Jamaica Beach Guide can be accessed on www.nepa.gov.jm/ . The guide is designed to allow Jamaicans and visitors to locate public bathing beaches across the island and makes it easier to access and enjoy the beauty of the Jamaican seascape. There is also an ‘Adopt A Beach’ programme which empowers people of all ages to become directly involved in cleaning and maintaining our coastlines by adopting a beach.
Sanctions for breaching the conditions for beach licences vary but legislation mandates that court action be taken. To date, the highest fine handed down by the court for breaches of the Beach Control Act is $500,000.
NEPA is encouraging all operators to obtain the stipulated beach licence OR to renew the current beach licences to meet the March 31 deadline.
For more information on beach licences and the Adopt- A- Beach programme, visit www.nepa.gov.jm. The public may contact the Agency at 876-754-7540 or toll free 888-991-5005.
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