The Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA) was created by the Jamaican government in 1999, and is the country’s largest protected area. The coastline includes the largest mangrove system in Jamaica, which together with extensive seagrass beds and coral reefs, likely contains the largest nursery area for fish and shellfish on the island. The land area includes 81 square miles of dry limestone forests and 32 square miles of wetlands. These areas are of high conservation value due to the numbers of vulnerable and endemic species that live there. Overlooking Portland Bight are three tropical dry forests, including the largest remaining area of intact dry limestone forest in Jamaica, where 271 plant species have been identified, including 53 that are endemic and found nowhere else on Earth. The PBPA is also home to 44 communities with a total of 50,000 inhabitants. The area also contains the highest concentration of fishers in Jamaica.
The government Fisheries Division is in the process of creating no-take fish sanctuaries, and has charged the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) with managing the areas within the PBPA. Newly hired and specially trained professional rangers will monitor and enforce the new Fish Sanctuaries.
Seacology is providing funding for a new office, barracks, field station, and enforcement equipment for to assist C-CAM and the new rangers in their efforts.