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A history of the Kingston harbour
Kingston Harbour has played an important role in the history of all the groups that have lived on the surrounding land. Its aquamarine waters provided fishing for the Tainos; a port for the Spanish, a port and naval base for British pirates and naval forces from which they attacked the Spanish Main, and home and business district for Jamaicans for over three centuries.
Kingston harbour is the seventh largest natural harbour in the world. It is an almost landlocked sheet of water approximately 10 miles (16 km) long by 2 miles (3.2 km) wide. Most of it is deep enough to accommodate large ships, even close to shore. It is bordered to the north by the city of kingston, the capital of Jamaica, to the west by Hunts Bay and the municipality of Portmore, and to the south and east by the Palisadoes spit.
The Harbour is a valuable resource for the people of Jamaica , providing port and airport facilities, fishing, site for thousands of industrial and commercial enterprises, as well as home for hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans.
In addition, the rich biodiversity of the harbour is under threat from pollution and alien species brought there by shipping.
The very feature that makes Kingston Harbour a safe and sheltered haven, contribute to its vulnerability to pollution: it is largely, landlocked, with a relatively small opening on the southeastern end.
The Kingston harbour is polluted by a combination of domestic sewage, run off from drainage ditches and industrial waste. Despite its many benefits the Kingston Harbour has suffered from constant degradation over the past four decades. The main pollutant of the Harbour is sewage. In fact, this constitutes seventy percent of the problem. The two functioning sewage plants in Kingston-Greenwich and Western offer only primary treatment. A good primary treatment plant only removes 30% of the pollution load. This means that the sewage is not adequately treated and is therefore considered hazardous to human health. Currently between 16 and 20 million gallons of sewage is deposited in the Harbour each day.
Other pollutants of the Harbour include solid waste that is mostly deposited from gullies and industrial waste from the factories along the Harbour rim. Ships often deposit hazardous waste in the Harbour, further adding to its destruction. There is also a problem with agricultural run-off, which finds its way into the Harbour via the gullies. Sedimentation has affected the Harbour over several years, in particular the area around Hunts Bay.
Resources of the Harbour
Direct uses of the Harbour include fishing, recreation and transportation.
Indirect uses include coastal protection of mangroves and waste assimilation, economic production and education.
The present day value of the Kingston Harbour has been estimated to be US$510.31 million per annum. Economic uses of the harbour include industry, commerce, shipping, fishing and recreation.
Fishing is important to the economy of Kingston . It sustains 3,386 fishermen who operate from 7 fishing villages around Kingston Harbour , and bring in approximately 1100 tonnes of fish per annum. The fishing villages are: Port Royal, Harbour Head, Rae Town, Greenwich Farm, Hunts Bay , Hellshire and Port Henderson.
Kingston Harbour's strategic location in the western hemisphere, together with investment in the development of port facilities, has made Kingston the third largest port in the Caribbean and Latin America . It is an important transshipment port, which handled 1,042,282 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) from 1,522 ship calls in the year ended August 2003.
Recreation on the harbour has been greatly reduced due to pollution of the water. The major recreational use now is yachting which operates from the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club and Morgan's Harbour marinas on the Palisadoes tombolo.
Water skiing, swimming and cross-theharbour races used to be popular activities in Kingston Harbour before the level of pollution degraded the water quality.
Industry and Commerce
The area surrounding Kingston Harbour is home to Kingston's industrial estate, as well as Jamaica's oil refinery and cement production facility.
Downtown Kingston is among the country's busiest commercial centres.
What is being done to rehabilitate Kingston Harbour?
Government has acquired the Soapberry lands on Hunts Bay and a consortium of the Urban Development Corporation, the National Housing Trust, the National Water Commission and Ashtrom Construction is going to begin building ponds to receive and treat the sewage in 2005.
In 1996 ? 1998, UNDP, GEF and GOJ sponsored preparation of ?AN INTEGRATED INVESTMENT PLAN FOR REHABILITATION OF KINGSTON HARBOUR.?
A number of action plans were
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