Places of Refuge in Jamaica: Identifying Prospective Site Suitability through an Analysis of Environmental, Socioeconomic, and Physical Criteria [graduate project]
Ready, C. M.
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Marine transportation is a predominant industry worldwide and has been experiencing increases in growth in the past several decades. Technological advances have led to improvements in safety and efficiency, which have strengthened the overall shipping sector. That being said, the ocean realm is laden with risks and hazards that constitute threats to the safety and security of human life, vessels, coastal states and their industries, as well as the environment. In the event of an incident at sea, coastal states have generally practiced the custom of allowing vessels to take refuge in their internal or surrounding waters. That being said, many nations are now refusing access to these “Places of Refuge” based on concerns for the environmental integrity of their coastlines and potential socioeconomic damage to their coastal state. The IMO has created Guidelines on Places of Refuge, however countries are neither required to adopt them, nor are they legally binding. The current study evaluated the Caribbean island of Jamaica for its potential in future contingency planning for Places of Refuge. Jamaica has currently not legally recognized Places of Refuge, and this study aimed to explore potential locations around the island for possible future designation. Through an analysis of environmental, socioeconomic, and physical/response criteria outlined in the IMO Guidelines, 14 potential sites were evaluated and assessed. It was determined that each site had strength and weakness areas, leading to the conclusion that all sites have criteria-specific suitability. The current study provides a framework for government authorities responding to potential future incidents by outlining the merits/drawbacks of prospective sites. While a continuation of this study is needed to incorporate further consultation and assessment, the study provides Jamaica with a baseline for increasing their marine contingency planning initiatives and setting a precedent for response preparedness in the Caribbean.