PROJECT ON HUMAN ACTIVITIES AND ENVIRONMENTAL
CONTAMINANTS IN THE LOWER BLACK RIVER MORASS
Final Report: Social and Policy Section
Dr. Anita Spring
Professor, Department of Anthropology
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
Funded by the North-South Center
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Project Objectives, Phases, and Methodologies 1
Phases of Project Data Collection 1
II. The Lower Black River Morass Ecosystem and Population 3
III. Stakeholders Involved in Environmental Issues in the Morass 5
IV. Household Systems Types: Livelihood Enterprises and Strategies of Morass 6
Wealth Levels and Housing 8
Household Composition and Head of Household 10
Gender Division of Labor 11
V. Geographical Segments and Household Systems 12
VI. Human Activities and the Environment 14
Uses and Abuses by Segment and Community 14
Problems and Constraints 15
Environmental Stresses to the Morass 16
Summary of the Consequences of Human Activities 17
VII. Attitudes and Perceptions of the Environment 20
Attitudes towards Environmental Problems 20
Perceptions of Environmental Problems and Solutions 21
Perceptions of Change in Environmental Resources 22
VII. Policy Implications and Recommendations 23
Annex A: Maps, Tables, and Systems Diagrams
Map 1 Parishes in Jamaica A- 1
Map 2 Communities in St. Elizabeth A- 2
Table 1 Stakeholders in the Lower Black River Morass A- 3
Table 2a Household System Types of the Lower Black River Morass A- 4
Table 2b Lower Black River Morass Geographical Segments by A- 4 a
Systems Diagrams 1-12 A- 5
Table 3 Human Interventions in the Morass by Segment A-17
Table 4 Problems and Constraints A-18
Table 5 Environmental Stress Calendar A-19
Table 6 Survey of Environmental Attitudes, BREPA and non-BREPA members A-20
Table 7 Ranked Problems by Means and Percent A-22
Table 8 List of Suggested Solutions to Problems, community and BREPA members A- 23
Table 9 Perceptions of Changes in Environmental Resources A-26
Tables 10 to 27 Household Survey Tables from Limestone Islands, Middle Quarters A-29
Annex B: Papers and Reports
1. Shrimp Higglers in Jamaica B-1
Andrea Dudash, Graduate Student, University of Florida
2. Environmental Attitudes of Community Leaders in Black River B-11
Rosalyn Howard-Smith, Doctoral Student, University of Florida
3. Characteristics of the Limestone Islands and Middle Quarters B-18
Elaine Nelson, Graduate Student, University of the West Indies
4. Human Activities and the Lower Black River Morass: Vineyard B-22
Mark Swanson, Doctoral Student, University of Florida
5. Illness and Environmental Attitudes: An Ethnotaxonomy of Medicinal Plants B-27
Rebecca Zellner Bruce, Graduate Student, University of Florida
6. Fauna and Flora of the Black River Morass B-31
Dr. Ann Haynes-Sutton, Consultant, Mandeville
7. The Lower Black River Morass: The Community and Environment B-36
Dr. Elaine Fisher, Executive Director, Institute of Jamaica
Annex C: Methodologies: Rapid Rural Appraisal and Household Survey C- 1
BREPA Black River Environmental Protection Association
DEMO Development of Environmental Management Organizations
DHH Dual headed household
ENGO Environmental Non-governmental Organization
FHH Female headed household
FSRE Farming Systems Research and Extension
JET Jamaica Environment Trust
JCDT Jamaica Conservation Development Trust
LI Limestone Islands
MHH Male headed households
MP Member of Parliament
MQ Middle Quarters
NB non-BREPA members
NEPT Negril Environmental Protection Trust
NEST Natural Environmental Societies Trust
NRCA Natural Resources Conservation Authority
RRA Rapid Rural Appraisal
OE Other environmentalists
SEEA St. Elizabeth Environmental Association
UDC Urban Development Corporation
UF University of Florida
UWI University of the West Indies
The present debate regarding wetlands often pits the various stakeholders against each other.
Perspectives on their usage or conservation also have changed through time. Sometimes
wetlands are looked upon as wastelands. In Jamaica in previous generations, they were drained
for agricultural lands. The Upper Black River Morass, for example, was drained and converted
to rice production in the 1960s to 1980s. As such, forests were felled and water was diverted
by a large pumping station. Now, however, rice is no longer cultivated; the station is defunct,
and the indigenous forests and sedge grasses and various flora are no more.
Currently, worldwide perspectives on wetlands is towards conservation. But conserving an
area may mean different thing to different stakeholders. These include: maintaining the natural
beauty; sustaining wildlife; maintaining flora and fauna species; preserving livelihoods for users
and residents, etc. There is an agreement that the wetlands of Jamaica are under severe stress
from national and local users, as well as from visitors (Franklin McDonald, Executive Director,
NRCA, opening speech, Workshop on Human Activities and Environmental Contaminants in
the Lower Black River Morass, June 16, 1995). National decision-makers want to apply
polluter-based principles, and have a coordinated, systematic approach. At the same time,
there is awareness of the need for local participation and the need to be sensitive to all
stakeholders, especially those who depend on the area for their livelihoods.
The Lower Black River Morass is proposed to be a protected area under the Natural Resources
Conservation Authority (NRCA). To local people, the Morass makes a major contribution to
their economy. Efforts to restrict usage are therefore resisted. Users of natural resources (e.g.,
forest products, marine life, and water) may or may not have their own conceptions about
conservation and sustainability; they may or may not be environmentalists in their own right.
On the other side, environmentalists who may be members of governmental agencies,
environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), researchers, or simply concerned
citizens may not be the very people using the morass areas to earn a livelihood, and may not
reside there. They may be more concerned with reducing or restricting human usage and
focusing on the protection of wildlife, forests, and water.
Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that many of these livelihoods are extractive of morass
resources and are in the informal, rather than in the formal wage-earning or business, sector;
some of the informal activities include illegal logging and illegal crop cultivation. The task at
hand, then, is to provide alternatives to both the legal and illegal enterprises that degrade
wetlands/morass systems. Resources that may be taken away by conservation have to be
replaced to have communities that are economically viable.
In order to carry out conservation programs, not only do government and local end-users need
to be in communication, but another group of stakeholders are important. These are the local
elites, local government, and local representatives of national agencies who have the power to
influence policy, local livelihood systems (for themselves and other community residents), and
enforce environmental policies.
The project on Human Activities and Environmental Contaminants, was funded by the North-
South Center at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida, and carried out by researchers at
the University of Florida and University of Cardiff, Wales, with student assistance from the
University of Florida and University of the West Indies. It was not connected with the
Government of Jamaica or any donor agencies, but was independently conceived and
submitted. This section on the Social and Policy aspects assesses the socioeconomic aspects of
usage of the Lower Black River Morass. It is concerned with:
(1) the various stakeholders (Table 1);
(2) livelihood systems of local people (Table 2 and System Diagrams 1-11);
(3) attitudes and perceptions of elites and Morass users (Tables 6-8);
(4) effects of usage on the Morass (Tables 3-4);
(5) environmental stresses; and
(6) results of a three community study (Tables 9-27).
All tables are located in Annex A. Ann Haynes-Sutton (Annex B this report) has delineated
changes in fauna and flora species.
A goal of the project is to provide information to the scientific community, as well as to policy
makers and the Black River community so they can work in concert to enhance the quality of
life for residents while maintaining environmental integrity.
A balance is needed between different human users and conservation of natural resources. It is
hoped that this document will be the basis for a new awareness and that all stakeholders can be
involved. The lessons learned in Jamaica and elsewhere shows that a clear understanding of the
resources, protected zone areas, local community needs and desires, and national policy
makers' agendas are needed. A process is required in which consensus is built so that there is a
balance between local resource users and regulatory bodies, and between environmental
conservationists who want a protected area and residents who do not see any advantages to
conservation. Building awareness, as was done in some managed parts of the Blue Mountains,
takes time and can only work if there is community involvement. Resources are needed in the
form of personnel (for monitoring, enforcement, and educating), informational campaigns,
research studies, institutional strengthening, and meetings between stakeholders.
Professor Alan Eyre, in his speech at the project's Kingston Workshop on Human Activities
and Environmental Contaminants of the Lower Black River Morass on June 16, 1995 said that
"we need to face up to the reality of environmental degradation in Jamaica, rather than to blame
the one who has diagnosed it." This document hopes to contribute to the dialog by providing a
description of the environmental usage, stresses, and stakeholders.
I. PROJECT OBJECTIVES, PHASES, AND METHODOLOGIES
The objectives of the Social and Policy Section of the project Human Activities and
Environmental Contaminants in the Lower Black River Morass were to study the:
1. impact of human habitation and activities on the wetlands;
2. knowledge and awareness of environmental degradation and conservation of the area by
the local population; and
3. potential conservation strategies for interventions by government and NGOs, as well
as by women and men in and around the Lower Morass.
Rapid appraisals, household surveys, and interviews of local constituent groups were carried
out to assess agricultural (including fishing and forestry) and nonfarming enterprises of small-
scale and commercial producers and peoples' knowledge, access, and control of resources by
gender and income level. For the social aspects, environmental use patterns have been
discerned and a systems analysis of household types are reported on here. The problems and
constraints of small and commercial producers, as well as those of the wealthy land and tourist
attraction owners, have also been studied using interviews, observations, surveys, and
questionnaires. This report analyzes these data to assess the nature of environmental stresses
(human and animal waste, agrochemical runoffs, and tourist blight) on the Morass and its
forest/marine resources. In addition, the involvement of environmental non-governmental
organizations (ENGOs) at local and national levels is considered in terms of their service
activities with local populations and their potential for intervention strategies.
Phases of Project Data Collection
The project was carried out between August 1994 and December 1995 in several phases in the
Lower Black River Morass, which is located in the Parish of St. Elizabeth in the southwest part
of Jamaica (Map 1, Annex A). The initial phase involved project setup, meeting national and
local officials, and reconnaissance of the Lower Black River Morass and the surrounding
communities (Spring 1994; Ellins 1994).
Rapid Rural Appraisals (RRAs) formed the second phase, during which time the communities
in and bordering the Lower Black River Morass were intensively surveyed (Spring 1995b).
Map 2, Annex A shows the communities in and around the Morass that were surveyed in the
RRAs, as well as the ones used in the questionnaire termed the Household Survey. Households
were surveyed in Lower Works, Baptist, Middle Quarters, Burnt Savannah, Knoxwood,
Parottee, Spice Grove, Salt Spring, Cataboo, Punches, Slipe and Frenchman. Annex C gives a
brief explanation of the methodology of the RRAs, in which teams of researchers and local
people combined to survey households, as well as of the household questionnaire.
The third phase involved formal household questionnaires in the communities of Middle
Quarters, Vineyard, Limestone Islands communities of Cataboo, Punches, Slipe and
Frenchmen, during which time two research assistants resided in these communities (Spring
1995c; also see reports by Nelson and Swanson, Annex B). Individual interviews and
participant observation were carried out in these communities and in the town of Black River,
Holland Estate, Appleton Estate, Crawford, Arlington, Lacovia, and Luana. An in-depth
analysis of shrimp higglers in Middle Quarters was carried out for a Master's thesis (Dudash
1995 and Annex B). In addition, community leaders in the area were formally surveyed in
terms of their attitudes on the environment by the project and by Howard-Smith (see report,
Annex B); local knowledge of medicinal plants was assessed by Bruce (see report, Annex B).
The fourth phase of the project consisted of evaluating the RRAs, as well as additional in-
depth interviews with selected leaders and others in the communities, and conducting meetings
and workshops (Spring 1995d). Local community meetings were held in the Limestone Islands
and in Vineyard in May of 1995. Formal workshops were held both in the town of Black River
and in the capital city of Kingston in June 1995. The former was attended by the member of
parliament for the area, who is also the Minister of State for Finance, local decision makers,
residents, business community members, environmental non-governmental organizations
(ENGOs), as well as by several members of various Kingston ENGOs. The latter was attended
by cabinet ministers, multilateral and bilateral donor organizations, representatives from
ENGOs, government agencies, as well as by residents from the Black River area.
The final phase consisted of data analysis of the household survey questions, environmental
attitude surveys, and ethnographic field notes (Spring 1995e). A meeting to present the draft
Final Report was held in December 1995 and attended by the member of parliament for the
area, mayor, and other local decision makers, residents, business community members, and
The Morass communities and ecosystems studied by this project and discussed here are in
terms of wealth levels, gender division of labor, household types, systems types, and
environmental perceptions. The uses and abuses of the Lower Black River Morass are detailed
by area, as are the system types in terms of contaminants entering the Morass and resources
taken out of the Morass. The environmental stresses by season and geographical segment are
given, and the constraints and problems experienced by the different stakeholders are examined.
Finally, a summary of the effects of human activities on local environmental conditions is given.
The Lower Black River Morass wetland ecosystem on the south coast of Jamaica is of special
interest because it is slated to be one of Jamaica's next protected areas (NRCA 1993, 1995).
The project identified the environmental threats to this ecosystem (see end cover for a list
generated by the project from Black River and Morass community residents) including the:
1. influx of surface runoff and ground water polluted by human sewage, pathogenic
organisms, pesticides, fertilizers, under (sugar cane processing waste), and animal
and aquaculture wastes;
2. deforestation due primarily to agriculture, human habitation, and logging;
3. potential over-exploitation of fisheries resources; and
4. erosion of the river banks due to boat tours, drainage from channels and
agriculture, and logging.
Local populations, who utilize fishing and forestry resources in attempts to increase their low
incomes, often impact negatively on the resources upon which they depend for their
livelihoods. Commercial and subsistence farmers' use of agrochemicals, and the tourist industry
(including boat tours) also contribute to the problems. All of these constituent groups must be
factored into potential solutions.
II. THE LOWER BLACK RIVER MORASS ECOSYSTEM AND POPULATION
The Lower Black River Morass is a natural ecosystem with enormous biodiversity that is
higher than most other tropical ecosystems (NRDC 1978; Peterson 1983; Svensson 1983;
Wade 1985; 1995). It forms a critical habitat for migratory bird species and marine life.
Wetlands ecosystems also help to filter nutrients and trap sediments, important functions for
the protection of coral reefs. The basin area of the Black River is 67,341 hectares, and the
Black River itself is 70.4 km or 44 miles in length and drains the Upper and Lower connecting
Morass systems (Johnson 1994:3-4). The Black River Morass is physiographically separated
into the Upper Morass and the Lower Morass. Although more than 90% of the Upper
Morass was converted to agricultural land (Peterson 1983; Svensson 1983), the Lower Morass
remains a biologically diverse, natural wetland ecosystem.
The vegetation of the Lower Morass includes mangroves (along the coast and in the estuaries
of the Black, Broad, and Salt Spring Rivers), sedge marshes on the open wet savannas, riparian
swale, marsh forest, riparian forest, aquatic vegetation, and limestone islands (Coke et al. 1982;
Jones et al. 1992; Neufville 1990; Proctor 1986; Thompson et al. 1983). The marsh forest,
considered the most distinctive feature of the Lower Black River Morass, has been decimated
by unchecked cutting of the trees. The total number of flowering species in the area is 92,
while ferns number 6. Twenty-three are rare species, 31 are found only in the Caribbean, and 8
are found only in Jamaica. There are 197 bird species, with 44 species being resident, and 60
being considered rare in Jamaica. Three species of marine turtles, 3 shrimp species, and 16 fish
species are found in the area. The latter include: Tilapia (African perch called "lake fish" or
"black fish"), snook, gray snapper, American eel, white mullet, mudfish/bullhead, and jewfish.
There are also fresh water and land crabs (Aiken n.d.; Haynes-Sutton 1990 and Annex B).
The area's agriculture includes sugar cane, an important commercial crop, bananas, rice, peanut,
dasheen, and tobacco as smallholder crops. Cattle is also important, and much of the Morass
has been cleared for pasture, as well as for the cultivation of illegal ganja. The leaves of the
sabal palm are used for baskets and mats, and the fronds of the royal palm are used as
decorative ceilings and roofs for tourist bars. Extraction of Morass forest products include
grasses, thatches, peat, trees for fuelwood and lumber, and dyes (indigo from the logwood tree
and a black "cleaning" product from the bark of red mangroves) (Haynes-Sutton 1990).
The Morass is a valuable ecosystem sociologically and economically, providing a livelihood for
about 12,000 people locally. Fishing and freshwater shrimping for subsistence and sales are
important, and more recently crabbing has also appeared. Commercial deep sea and some sport
fishing occurs throughout the region. The Morass is aesthetically appealing, particularly along
the rivers, and an expanding ecotourist trade has developed in the last decade that has attracted
tourists from the UK, US, Italy, and Germany, and Jamaicans from urban areas and abroad.
Three tour companies have doubled their boat holdings in the past year and a half, and
occasional local boat owners also take tourists on the Black, Salt Spring, and Middle Quarters
Rivers. The number of tourists reaches several hundred per day in the peak seasons.
Currently, people employ diversified livelihood strategies that combine Morass and non-
Morass use, and which include various combinations of fishing/shrimping, small scale farming,
logging, wage labor, craftmaking, vending and wage labor. Additionally, several large enterprises
in the region (Holland and Appleton Rum Estates), a pimento (allspice) processing factory, and
mid-level entrepreneurs (ecotour companies) contribute to the usage and degradation in the area.
The area is seen as a place for retirement/vacation homes for Jamaicans and foreigners
(especially along the coast rather than in the Morass), and a number of establishments that rent
to tourists have sprung up. Tourist attractions outside the Morass, but in the Parish, include
Lover's Leap, Y.S. Falls, Maggoty Falls, Treasure Beach, Apple Valley, and Pedro Plains.
The Parish of St. Elizabeth, with its population of 144,000 (Statistical Institute of Jamaica
1994), has high levels of unemployment and underemployment that contribute to some portion
of the degradation as people search to meet income and subsistence needs. The area is known
for the independence of character of the people, its "gingerbread" houses, and its early history
(it was the first electrified community in Jamaica and formerly a port that exported indigo).
There have been previous studies of various socioeconomic aspects of St. Elizabeth. A study
by NRCD provided a "profile of the social characteristics in terms of the morass as an
economic resource" (NRCD 1982). At that time, 73% earned some income from the Morass,
21% caught fish and shrimp, and 19% received remittances from relative living in Jamaica while
24% received from relatives living abroad. However, there was a wide range of income
strategies (36 occupations and 42 activities). The report noted that the community's regard for
the Morass was significantly less than in Negril (1982:34). A study by UDC (1990), although
not focused on the Lower Black River Morass in particular, noted the low levels of education,
skills and training, as well as the high level of unemployment in St. Elizabeth/Black River. A
recent study in Negril on environmental awareness (White 1995) provides data on present
knowledge and awareness of residents there, baseline data in order to monitor the DEMO
project data there and data on main environmental issues perceived by the community.
A current poverty alleviation program launched by the Government of Jamaica with a Social
Investment Fund provided by the World Bank has assessed communities in terms of the need
for the implementation of infrastructure and social services (McHardy 1995). A baseline study
uses a system of four quartiles (one is the highest and four is the lowest) to rank wealth or
poverty based on such variables as percent of: (1) adults with primary education; (2) adult in
the labor force; (3) households with toilets; and (4) households with piped water. The
geographical divisions for St. Elizabeth unfortunately "lumps" some Morass communities (the
Central Segment of the Limestone Islands communities of Frenchman, Slipe, Cataboo, and
Punches--see Section V below) with the town of Black River that is categorized in the first
quartile. Other communities around the Morass that are listed separately are Holland and
Parottee--third quartile and Vineyard and Middle Quarters--fourth quartile. Considering the
ranking of Parishes, St. Elizabeth has the third highest rate of unemployment and the "worst
ranking on the education indicator," as well as the second highest percent (41%) of communities
and households in quartile 4, and the second lowest percent of urbanization (9.8%) in the
country (McHardy 19958-9).
III. STAKEHOLDERS INVOLVED IN ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN THE MORASS
Various categories of persons have a "stake" in the Lower Black River Morass because they
reside in the area, gain a livelihood there, administer the area, have a business in the area, carry
on research there, or try to preserve and protect the area. As such, they are considered by the
project to be "stakeholders" and included as part of the analysis in terms of their needs, usage,
and potential for interventions. Table 1, Annex A provides a long list, of local, national, and
international persons, groups, and agencies who "qualify" as stakeholders. (Still others may
need to be added.) All those above the line form part of the project's household systems
analysis (Table 2a and Systems Diagrams 1-11, Annex A), whereas many of those below the
line were interviewed about their agency or business, or were part of discussions with project
Local residents who fish, shrimp, farm, log, make charcoal, make crafts, own businesses
(including ecotours), or earn wages were surveyed, interviewed, and observed as the actual
users (end-users) of the Morass. Managers of the rum estate (Appleton), produce estate
(Holland), and allspice factory were interviewed. Discussions were held with the Tourist
Board and bird shooters.
Officers and members of the local Black River Environmental Protection Association (BREPA),
soon to be called the St. Elizabeth Environmental Association (SEEA), were interviewed; they
also participated on the environmental attitudes and photo-sort surveys. (BREPA was also
instrumental in organizing the June and December workshops in Black River.)
National Environmental groups such as the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), Jamaican
Conservation Development Trust (JCDT), and National Environment Societies Trust (NEST)
assisted in organizing the Kingston Workshop and Next Steps Session in June 1995. Various
national and international researchers were invited and participated in the Kingston Workshop,
as did a number of bilateral and multilateral donors and other environmental agencies in the
Finally, local level, parish level, and national politicians participated in interviews and
Workshops. The St. Elizabeth Parish Council, chaired by the Mayor of Black River, has been
involved in major environmental decisions. In recent meetings, the Council has focused on the
Black River Wharf; asked NRCA to do an environmental impact assessment on the cemetery;
carried out tree-planting campaigns in public spaces, focused on garbage and litter; and asked
the government to
"take under advisement the urgent need for the introduction of the appropriate
regulations to regulate the operation of boat tours and other related matters on
the Black River and to discontinue any boat tours without the appropriate
licenses...(and to) introduce an appropriate fee structure for the operation of boat
tours on the Black River" (Parish Council Minutes, May 11, 1995, pp. 10-11).
Finally, national governing bodies and regulatory agencies are also stakeholders, since they set
environmental policies, regulations, and enforcement procedures. NRCA is the official
Government of Jamaica agency that is charged with environmental protection and enforcing
environmental laws. As such, it establishes and enforces pollution control, guides
environmentally appropriate development, maintains a system of national parks and protected
areas, promotes public awareness through environmental information and education programs,
and enforces environmental laws and regulations (NAEPT 1995; NRCA 1993, 1995).
IV. HOUSEHOLD SYSTEMS TYPES: LIVELIHOOD ENTERPRISES
AND STRATEGIES OF MORASS COMMUNITY RESIDENTS
A specific focus of this report is a consideration of household systems and diverse livelihood
enterprises so as to understand problems and constraints, environmental stresses, and possible
interventions in the Morass communities. From outside of an area, it may appear that all or
most residents carry out similar ways or enterprises to earn a living. The questions asked by
this project were what were the various different ways of exploiting the environment and of
gaining a livelihood, and what was the nature of these differences?.
The methodology used here therefore builds up the household systems inductively from local
specificities and the real aspects of people's lives and behavior. Particularly in communities
that have mixed income levels, occupations, and resources, it is important to look at the
differences and similarities between households in terms of work patterns, remuneration, and
problems. Many rural communities in Jamaica have a number of family and household
composition types, and vary from low to high access to resources and income.
In many of the Morass communities, for example, there is a continuum in the same community
and on the same street in terms of wealth levels and use of environmental resources. Dwellings
on the same road vary from (a) multi-room, concrete homes with fenced yards, tile roofs,
electric appliances (e.g., refrigerators, freezers, televisions, VCRs, and stereos), indoor
plumbing and flush toilets, expensive furnishings, and automobiles to (b) homes made from
roughly hewn, unpainted boards, with only one or two rooms that are not electrified, sparse
furnishings, and outside pit latrines (or no latrines). In between, are households with water
taps in the yard, electricity for lighting only, well-constructed pit latrines, limited but better
quality furnishings, and bicycles for transportation. These differences usually reflect
differences in income, employment, and use of environmental resources.
Because of the different composition of families and wealth levels, livelihood strategies and
ways to exploit local environmental resources differ. Concomitantly, the problems and
constraints experienced by households vary. Some problems may be area-specific, such as
roads flooding, while others may vary by wealth category, such as lack of customers for low-
income shrimp sellers (higglers) versus lack of bank loans for businessmen. The purpose of
conducting appraisals at the household level is to distinguish the types of systems and their
constituent parts so as to understand the specific methods used by household members to gain
employment, income, food, and shelter, on the one hand, and the interaction of the various
household members with each other, on the other. Then, these systems can be compared and
contrasted both within the local area and the larger region. For example, households that rely
on shrimp catching for their major income may be different from those that are farming on dry
land in the same area and still different from those that rely on woman shrimp higglers but in
which the shrimp are not caught by household members and must be purchased from the
The project's methodology took data collected from many households and ascertained the
different systems types, as well as the frequency of each type (Systems Diagrams 1-12 and
Tables 9-27, Annex A). In a fishing community, for example, most households have this
predominant occupation, while others do not, as some households may be operating stores,
transportation businesses, and other non-fishing enterprises. Both the problems specified and
potential interventions affect the various types differently.
Tables 2a-2b and Systems Diagrams 1-11 (Annex A) are formulated from the actual households
and are built up as general patterns. Hence, they are idealized types, on the one hand, but they
allow for variation, on the other. Nine systems were distinguished from the 60 households and
over 107 persons interviewed during the RRAs and further modified during the Household
Survey of 94 households in Vineyard, Middle Quarters, and the Limestone Islands as well as
by Dudash (1995). The number of households in each system could be small or large, as
systems reflect different ways to organize livelihood strategies. The systems were then related
to the geographical areas and communities around the Morass.
The fairly large diversity of individual households has been reduced to nine systems (with two
having variations) that include combinations of fishing, cropping, livestock raising, vending,
shopkeeping, craftmaking, catering to tourists, earning wages, and receiving remittances.
Because this study focused on the environment and the use of the Lower Black River Morass,
the systems include the interaction with the Morass (inputs and outputs) as well. The ways in
which the enterprises were interconnected are also detailed in the systems analysis. There is a
tendency to think that only fishing households use the Morass. The data show that fishing and
non-fishing households use Morass lands as pasture for cattle, to grow legal and illegal crops,
for land to build houses, and to obtain forest products (medicinals, grasses, mulches, and wood
for fuel and construction).
All systems have the possibility of also receiving outside remittances from a family members)
in Kingston, elsewhere in Jamaica, or from outside the country (primarily the UK, US, and
Canada). Older residents often receive pensions. These types of households may also do some
fishing and agriculture on the side. A few households in every system may also have a small
shop in the yard. About a fourth of the households that do not consider agriculture as a
livelihood, in fact maintain gardens devoted exclusively for home use. Agriculture as an
enterprise may be carried out on dry land, in the Morass, or both. Farmers tend to use
fertilizers and pesticides from which, depending on proximity, there may be runoffs to the
Morass. Both men and women are involved in agriculture, although women are reluctant to go
into the Morass. Cattle may be grazed on dry land, the Morass, or both.
No household is completely independent of the market. A fairly large number of households
depend on wage labor, although they may also fish, farm, and raise livestock regularly or
occasionally. Local wage work includes jobs such as tailor, dressmaker, automobile repair
person, carpenter, mason, construction worker, sales clerk, boat tour operator, gas station
attendant, electronic technician, bartender, musician, chef, butcher, domestic assistant, and
school teacher. External employment ranges from white collar jobs to menial labor and includes
any of the above performed away from home communities, as well as jobs as social workers,
urban employees, bank tellers, secretaries, menial laborers, migrant agricultural laborers, and
Households in any system in close proximity to the Morass tend to utilize Morass lands to
graze cattle; cultivate crops; obtain water for agricultural activities; wash vehicles, farm
machinery, and laundry; collect grass and wood products for mulch, fuel, construction, crafts,
and medicinals; and obtain fish, fowl, and turtles/tortoises. This usage diminishes further away
from the Morass and as other dry land or forest sources predominate. At the same time,
households may be releasing into the Morass human and animal wastes, rubbish, detergents and
soaps, and runoffs/residues from fertilizers and pesticides. Pollutants from nonhousehold
sources include under and other wastes from Appleton Rum Factory; nondegradable
packaging materials from the commercial fishery in the Upper Morass, fertilizers; herbicides,
and pesticides from Appleton and Holland Estates; and wastes from the pimento (allspice) oil
factory in Middle Quarters. Ecotours contribute contaminants such as engine oil and gasoline
from the boats, as well as rubbish (glass/plastic drink containers and food wraps) discarded by
the tourists. The wake of the tour boats cause accelerated degeneration to the banks of the
rivers. Logging for commercial purposes, local construction, and charcoal production has
particularly deleterious effects.
Certain systems have specific unique features. For example, because of decreasing soil fertility,
less food is being produced in the Limestone Islands communities of Frenchman, Slipe,
Cataboo, and Punches, and a truck that sells edible staples (yam, coco yam, dasheen, bananas,
Irish potato) comes twice a week. Shrimp higgling in Middle Quarters is carried out on the
main road (System 5a), whereas women in other areas must go to urban areas such as Ocho
Rios or Kingston to sell their shrimp (System 5). Ecotours (System 9) affect the town of
Black, Salt Spring, and some individuals in Frenchman and Vineyard, but do not affect other
parts of the Morass.
Wealth Levels and Housing
Asking people about their income usually yields unreliable information.2 One method of
estimating wealth is to consider household material possessions, dwellings, and vehicles. Using
this method a six point scale was created by the project as a way to rank the households in
terms of their wealth/income levels. The system relied on the physical structure of the
dwelling(s) and yard, contents and possessions of the yard and has three major divisions (1=
low income; 2 = middle income; 3 = high income). Each category was further divided into a
high and a low, such that "1 low" is at the bottom end of low income level, while a "1 high" is
at the top end. However, for statistical purposes, Tables 9-27, Annex A present the aggregated
The physical structures of the yard and its houses include the size of the dwellings, materials
used in their construction and existence of plumbing and electricity. The location of the kitchen
and bathroom/latrine in relation to the main part of the house is also another important
determinant. Higher income households have indoor plumbing facilities. Household
possessions are used to determine position on the scale and include a variety of electrical
appliances (such as stoves, refrigerators, radios, television), furnishings, and vehicles. Land and
crops under cultivation, as well as livestock, are seen as important determinants of wealth and
income. Livestock are viewed as being easily convertible to cash or used for the household if
the need arises.
In St. Elizabeth, it is common to find varying degrees of wealth in close proximity. For
instance, a dwelling that was regarded as a "3 high" (large block/cement house with indoor
plumbing, television set, car, and other appliances), can be found next to a wattle and daub
house with an outside area for cooking, a pit latrine, and no electricity. Parottee was the area
that provided the widest contrast perhaps, because on the west side is the sea and the lucrative
and expensive beach front property, while on the east side is a swampy part of the Morass
that floods when it rains. The former has homes built by expatriates and returning residents
and those persons involved in the lucrative marine fish trade while the latter live on occasional
remittances and subsistence farming or fishing. Table 23, Annex A shows that 84% of all
houses are block, although 27% of houses in the Limestone Island communities are wooden.
The household survey in the Limestone Islands, Middle Quarters and Vineyard shows that
most households (60%) were in the medium wealth level, followed by 30% at the low and only
10% at the high level. None of Vineyard's households are rated to be high level, compared to
17% of the households in Middle Quarters (Table 11, Annex A). According the the poverty
alleviation study, both communities are in the lowest income quartile. Table 13, Annex A
shows systems types by wealth levels. High wealth levels are correlated with wage labor and
remittances (System 8a, b, and c) and System 2 Commercial Fishing (Tables 13 and 14, Annex
A). Low and medium levels are spread out over systems types..
Yards include varying amounts of fruit trees, to a lesser extent small agricultural plots, and
occasionally thatch-producing palms, and livestock cages/houses for poultry and swine.
Though some people complain about garbage disposal facilities, many of the yards are
relatively clean, with rubbish being burned. In some, there are burnt cans and bottles, as well as
used tires, fishing trap wires, and used vehicles or their parts. Water supplies vary from indoor
plumbing in the "3" category to yard pipes in the "2" category and use of communal pipes in
the "1" and "2" categories. Residents of the Limestone Islands in all categories, in particular,
complain about lack of water in the pipes during the dry season. None of the low income
households in the household survey have water piped in their houses (Table 16, Annex A).
Most low (37%) and medium (61%) income households use water from a pipe or tank (36%
and 55% respectively). This is further noted in Table 17, Annex A. Table 15, Annex A shows
that, in the three household survey communities, low (40%) and medium (60%) income
households use wood, whereas all high income households use gas for cooking fuel. A small
percentage (18%) of low income households also use gas.
Household Composition and Head of Household
Households vary in terms of the number of members and how people are related to each other.
There are various definitions of the head of the household. Current definitions of household
head usually is the persons) in residence who provisions the household (McGowan 1990;
Spring 1992, 1995). In rural Jamaica, a diversity of household types exist, and much has been
written about family types and household composition (Harris 1983; Massiah 1980; 1993;
McGowan 1990; Staudt 1984). The Morass communities have a number of types in terms of
composition and headship.
Households range from 1 to 16 members with an average of 4.95 persons; there are many
combinations of related and non-related persons living together. For this study, three major
types are used. The first type is a household that includes a man and a woman, usually with
children. The couple may be legally married or in a consensual union of brief or long-term
duration, the latter being termed a boyfriend and girlfriend. The man and woman may be then
"baby-father" (biological father) or "baby-mother" (biological mother) to each other in terms of
all or some of the children. In this study, if the man is the main economic provider, the
household is counted as a male-headed household (MHH). If the woman also makes significant
economic contributions, the household is counted as a dual-headed household (DHH). Fathers
and adult sons, as well as adult brothers, occasionally reside in the same household. They are
counted as male-headed or dual-headed depending on economic contributions from their wives,
"baby mothers," or girlfriends.
Female headed households (FHHs) may consist of: (1) a woman and her young children; (2)
adult sisters and their children; or (3) a woman, her adult children, and their children. It is
possible in the latter case for one or more of the adult children to be adult men, but most FHHs
do not have adult males in residence.
Households composed of parents and adult children or adult siblings and their spouses or
partners are therefore classified as MHH, DHH, or FHH depending on composition and
economic contribution of the members. Overall, the households in the three survey
communities are divided into DHH, FHH, and MHH somewhat evenly (Tables 18 and 19,
Annex A). As most households (60%) are in the medium wealth level, it is not surprising that
most household types are found there (Table 18). However, considering it by wealth levels
(Table 19, Annex A), 44% of low income households are female headed and 67% of high
income households are dual headed.
There seems to be no differences in wealth levels or communities in terms of people growing
small amounts of their own food (Tables 20 and 21, Annex A). About 35% of the sample do
so and all wealth levels participate. Fewer female headed households (45%) than dual (75%) or
male headed households grow food (Table 22). Dudash found that few of the Middle Quarters
shrimp higglers have time to cultivate their own food crops.
Gender Division of Labor
In any society, there are differences and similarities between the tasks that women and men
perform (Chase 1988; Poats et al. 1988; Spring 1995). The gender division of labor is both
discrete and flexible. In St. Elizabeth, men handle most activities regarding fishing in the
Morass and sea. Women express a general dislike for the Morass and enter it only when
necessary such as for the purposes of washing clothes and bathing. Some believe the water is
unclean, and/or might cause illness (e.g., sores on the skin and colds). Others are afraid of
crocodiles. Women note that these things also affect men, and would prefer if men used the
Morass minimally (also see Dudash 1995).
Only men are involved in shrimping, crabbing, and fishing (with fish/shrimp pots, traps and
nets). Some fishermen make their own canoes out of cottonwood trees or fiberglass, while
others purchase them. Fishing is mostly a solitary activity, with fishermen rarely going in
tandem or taking children with them. Men, and occasionally women, do line fishing. Only men
are involved in deep sea fishing; this type of fishing occurs close to the sea primarily in
communities such as Spice Grove, Parottee, and Crawford. Only a few men carry out fishing
both in the Morass and ocean. Deep sea fishing traps are larger than traps used in the Morass
(five to eight feet in length) made of wire mesh supported by wood frames. Fishermen sell
shrimp to spouses and non-related women. With rare exception, shrimp higglers are women,
and both shrimp higgling and craft/basket production can be carried out by women who head
their own households.
With rare exception, shrimp higglers are women, and both shrimp higgling and craft/basket
production can be carried out by women who head their own households. Women, whether or
not in dual-headed or female-headed households, often do thatch work (making fans, baskets,
hats) and sell shrimp. Slipe and Vineyard are particularly known for such activities, and large
numbers of women there are involved. Some low-income, female-headed householders rely
heavily on this enterprise. Only men manufacture shrimp pots and fish traps, and they also
seem to be the predominant makers of thatch brooms. Both sexes collect thatch in areas where
it grows abundantly, but only men collect thatch when it is available in the Morass. Thatch
was at one time a free commodity, but in places of scarcity and also in basket production areas,
it is now collected by men and sold to women. With the exception of one local wholesaler in
Vineyard who buys baskets for a local outlet of "Things Jamaican," baskets are purchased by
outside dealers, or local women go to Ocho Rios or Montego Bay to sell.
In the absence of men, subsistence agriculture is done by women. If these women have cattle, it
is their male relatives living elsewhere who tend them. In the male and dual headed household
types, both sexes are involved in subsistence agriculture, whereas the men may have more
responsibility for commercial production.
The household survey shows that one third of all households receive remittances (Table 12,
Annex A). Slightly more in the Limestone Islands receive remittances, but the difference is not
statistically significant (Table 24, Annex A). Remittances are received about equally by all
household types (Table 25, Annex A).
IV. GEOGRAPHICAL SEGMENTS AND HOUSEHOLD SYSTEMS
The entire Lower Black River Morass area can be divided geographically into segments (see
Table 2b, Annex A) based on Coke et al. (1982). However, the project modified their
categories to reflect current human activities and resource bases in the mid-1990s. For instance,
Salt Spring is grouped with the Central Segment instead of the Southern Segment, as its current
ecology and resource base seems more similar to the Central Segment than to other communities
in the Southern Segment. Although all areas have Systems 8a-c, all areas do not have all the
other systems. Microecologies, proximity to town and the main road, and local land usage,
influence the types of systems that have developed (Table 2b, Annex A).
The data from the household surveys show that System 2: Fishing with Subsistence
Agriculture is the most prevalent system (34%) in the Limestone Islands (whereas it is minor
elsewhere), followed by Systems 8a (22%) and 8b (16%), that are equally common elsewhere
(Table 10, Annex A). Middle Quarters has a fourth of its households in System 4: Agriculture.
Vineyard's households are spread out over the systems, but most are in 8b, local employment.
Each system has been diagrammed (Systems 1-12, Annex A) to show the various livelihood
strategies, the relative importance of each, the type of household, the gender division of labor,
and the inputs/outputs in relation to the Morass. All livelihood enterprises have a specific
location if present, e.g., fishing is on the left and agriculture is on the right. The relative size of
the boxes for the enterprises, their linkages (to the household, other enterprises, the market, and
the Morass), and the gender division of labor are shown. Ovals denote the presence of an
enterprise outside of the household (that may be used by some of the households of the
system, but not by others). Dotted lines represent the possible presence of enterprises for
some households or household members in the system. All system diagrams except System 9
radiate out from the household that is disaggregated by its members according to gender and age.
System 1: Mixed agriculture (crops and/or cattle) and fishing, w/without higgling
These households focus predominately on agriculture in communities less-oriented to the
Morass (such as Burnt Savannah), but they may also be found in so-called fishing communities
such as Slipe. Depending on the suitability and fertility of the land, farmers may grow crops
(i.e., tobacco, yam, dasheen, ground nut, coco yam, and tree crops such as banana), or may use
their lands as pasture for cattle. Crops and cattle are cultivated for surplus and sales. In
addition, in some households, women may vendor shrimp either caught by husbands,
boyfriends, or by outside local fishermen as in Middle Quarters, or fishermen outside the
community. Fishing may be sporadic, seasonal, or targeted on particular types (fish, crabs, or
shrimp). Households with fishing have resident adult males.
System 2: Fishing with subsistence agriculture (crops and/or cattle). w/without
Households in this system focus predominately on fishing, shrimping, or crabbing. Fishermen
may give or sell shrimp/fish to their wives or girlfriends to sell, or they may sell them to
unrelated women. Optional enterprises may include food and/or ganja cultivation and cattle
raising. Households in this system have resident males.
System 3: Agriculture (crops and/or cattle) with some fishing
This system includes households involved in cash-crop agriculture which may either be
predominantly focused on cattle (Limestone Islands, Luana, and Vineyard), ganja production
(Limestone Islands and parts of the Southern Segment), peanuts (Eastern Segment), or dasheen,
yam, banana, coco yam, and tobacco (selected communities in all segments). Fishing is still a
significant enterprise carried out by adult men.
System 4: Agriculture (crops and/or cattle)
No fishing is carried out in this system, but cash crops are cultivated and cattle are raised for
sale. Both Systems 3 and 4 can vary in scale and income production from low to high. In the
Eastern Segment, farmers rely on mulch grasses from the Morass for their crops.
System 5: Shrimp higgling (many female-headed households)
Almost all shrimp higglers are women. Only in Middle Quarters, where the constant "traffic"
on the main road is conducive to sales, do they use this enterprise to earn the majority of their
income. Dudash (1995 and report, Annex B) modified the system diagram to show the
presence of the partner scheme and absence of thatch products. In the Limestone Islands,
shrimp selling may be combined with craft production and pursued outside the area. Female
heads can carry out this enterprise, obtaining shrimp from fishermen outside of the household.
Some of the households here also have subsistence gardens.
System 6: Crafts. subsistence agriculture and livestock, fishing with or
without shrimp higgling (some female-headed households)
In this system, the focus is on producing thatch products such as baskets, fans, and mats and
may include shrimp higgling outside the local area, as well as local subsistence agriculture.
These are often female-headed households although adult men may be present; in the latter case
there may be some agricultural and fishing activities.
System 7: Deep sea fishing with Morass fishing and agriculture (crops and/or
This system is predominantly deep sea fishing in which men go out in large canoes or V-hull
boats (enough to accommodate several persons). Morass fishing may not be carried out or may
be seasonal or sporadic. There may be some farming and livestock raising.
System 8a: Remittances and pensions
8b: Wages from local employment
8c: Wages from outside employment
Many households receive cash income from remittances and wages. Some engage in fishing and
farming enterprises as well, and these households are similar to Systems 1 to 4. If household
members stated that remittances, pensions, and wages produced greater income than other
enterprises, they are listed in System 8.
System 8a is characterized by little dependence on farming or fishing, and most of the food is
purchased with income deriving from remittances and/or pensions, especially in households
headed by older couples or women. System 8b households derive wages from local sources
while those in 8c derive them from employment external to the area (e.g., Kingston, US, UK,
etc.). Men, women, or both can be wage earners. As noted above, this wage labor consists of
small entrepreneurs, menial laborers and some white collar workers, whose incomes range from
low to high. People who have worked for many years or overseas tend to have amassed a fair
amount of money and a number have built modest or large homes. In all the variations of
System 8, older people tend to have a home-use garden.
System 9: Ecoprenuers and entrepreneurs
This system does not have the household as a unit in its center, but rather reflects companies
and a few individuals involved in the tourist trade such as tour boat owners and operators,
guides, concession stand attendants, souvenir sellers, craft shopkeepers, etc. Local people may
be self-employed or employed part- or full-time in these enterprises. As well, they may be
involved in other systems or aspects of other systems already described.
VI. HUMAN ACTIVITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Uses and Abuses of the Morass by Segment and Community
The ways the Morass is used and the inputs and outputs differ by area (Table 3, Annex A). In
the Northern segment, the major pollutants entering the Morass are the wastes from the
pimento (allspice) factory, agrochemicals from the Holland and Appleton Estates and local
farmers, and household wastes. The Morass in this area is used for farming dasheenn and rice),
cattle pasture, fishing and shrimping, wood collection, and water for the pimento production
process. During agricultural production, the practice of making furrows allows water to drain
towards the rivers, thereby draining the Morass grasslands.
The residents and boat tour enterprises of the Southern Segment (including Black River, Lower
Works, Luana, Vineyard, Salt Springs, Parottee, and Spice Grove) tend to deposit the following
in the Morass: household wastes, engine oil and gasoline residues, and litter. The wake of the
boats are also partly responsible for the premature river bank erosion in this area according to a
member of local residents. Trees (including mangroves) cut for fuelwood and construction, as
well as fish are the main Morass resources extracted in this area.
The Central Segment communities dump household wastes and old abandoned fish traps in the
Morass. All the problems inherent with ecotourism contribute to the Morass's degradation
here, while the Morass in turn supports the community with fish, shrimp, and crab, thatch for
crafts and shrimp pots, pasture, wood, and agricultural land, mostly for ganja production.
Extensive logging of hardwoods, including mahogany, royal palms, and other species, has
seriously depleted the Morass forests.
Residents of the Eastern Segment (Burnt Savannah and Knoxwood) use the Morass to collect
mulch grass, fish, and farm (for which land is drained), and input their household wastes and
agrochemicals back into the Morass. The Morass flora in this area consists mostly of grasses
and sedges that have been traditionally reaped by local people both for their own use and for
external sales. Mulch grass is used on top of the fertilizer to maintain ground moisture and
prevent soil parching for crops that are fertilized (e.g., tobacco and coco yam). Informants note
that vendors used to come with trucks to purchase these mulch grasses for use outside the area.
but have stopped because of decreasing amounts of grasses for mulch.
In the Upper Morass, the Black River serves as the source of water for the area's rum and fish
industries, while under from Appleton Rum Factory and agrochemicals from the sugar cane
fields of Appleton and Holland Estates are the main pollutants that enter the river. During the
1970s and 1980s, the Upper Morass was drained for rice production (Bjork 1984; 1991; GOJ
1985a; 1985b; 1985c; Harza 1976a; 1976b; Karlsson et al. 1984; NRCD 1982; Svensson 1983).
Currently, rice production is virtually nonexistent and there is only a small amount of sugar
cane production in its place. A commercial fish farm and processing factory occupies 104 acres
and releases fish culls, hormones, and plastic/processing residues into the Black River.
Problems and Constraints
There are generic environmental and sociological problems in the entire region (e.g., mosquitoes
and underemployment), but each segment has some of its own difficulties, and there are some
system-specific constraints (Table 4, Annex A). In the Northern Segment and the Limestone
Islands, people complain of poor access to drinking water, whereas in the Southern Segment,
the main problem is water shortages. It should be mentioned that residents of each community
or segment with rare exception do not know about or appreciate the problems of the other
communities or segments. In the Northern and Southern Segments, flooding on roads is a
major problem affecting both area's transportation. The Central and Southern Segments are
affected by the increasing crocodile population, which is, thus far, not the case for the Eastern
and Northern Segments, although the project spotted a crocodile in the Middle Quarters River.
Considering the problems and constraints by systems type, all Morass fishermen experience
problems with under, water hyacinth ("lily"), seasonality, fluctuating water levels, and market
fluctuations. The most serious of these is the under, that produces the fish kills, especially
during the months of January-February when water tables are somewhat lower. Water
hyacinth clogs the banks and channels, hindering fishermen's movement and retrieval of fish
traps. As a result, fishermen may cut channels to bypass clogged areas thereby contributing to
additional drainage of the Morass land. Ecotour boat noise scares fish away in Salt Spring and
Black River areas of the Southern Segment. Burning of the Morass, by both fishermen and
farmers, has deleterious effects on the fish population, as well as on the flora and other fauna.
Farming for the production of food crops on dry land in the Central Segment is essentially
constrained by diminishing soil fertility, and most of the dry land is now pasture rather than
crop land. Depending on proximity to the Morass, cattle farmers also pasture their animals in
the Morass. The systems that involve higgling are constrained by shrimp availability, and in
such places as Middle Quarters where there is a small but increasing number of vendors, the
market is not expanding rapidly enough to support this increase in salespeople (Dudash 1995).
Farmers in the Eastern segment complain of "sour" soil, a sort of anaerobic decomposition that
lowers yields. Farmers there are overtly angered by burning in the Morass because this affects
the availability of mulch grass. (Occasional burning of Morass grasses can be regenerative, but
excessive burning can be deleterious.)
People in systems that contain the manufacture of craft products mention the weak craft
market in general and the lack of local marketing channels in particular. Basketmakers currently
complain of thatch shortage especially in the Central Segment; Vineyard in the Southern
Segment is beginning to experience such shortages. With the exception of a few baskets sold at
the ecotour establishments in Black River and Salt Spring and in a couple of shops in the town
of Black River, there are few selling outlets for the products, and most are purchased by traders
for sales in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. Some local women travel to these areas several times
per year to sell. Both the Parish Council and Black River Environmental Protection
Association (BREPA, soon to be SEEA--St. Elizabeth Environmental Association) have
discussed the need for a local craft store.
Environmental Stresses on the Morass
One of the tools of the RRA methodology utilized by the project was the Environmental
Stress/Danger Calendar that plotted aspects of environmental sustainability and degradation
(by month, season, and segment). The environmental stresses can be divided into: Morass
burs; resource scarcity; ecotourism; water problems; and soil erosion (Table 5, Annex A). The
dry seasons (from December to March and July to September) are the times when there are
shortages of drinking water and increases in human-made fires to catch aquatic products.
Diminished amounts of water in the Morass riverine systems undoubtedly contributes to
underdilution of the under, resulting in fish kills. Land clearing for cultivation, which is
beneficial to the farmer but which stresses the wetlands also occurs in the dry season. The wet
seasons (from May to June and September to December) are the times for flooding of roads and
the possibility of damage by hurricanes. (Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 exacted a large amount of
damage in the area to houses in general and roofs in particular.) The main road in Middle
Quarters is particularly affected during the rainy season, and extensive flooding prevents
vehicles and shrimp higglers from utilizing it. Mosquitoes and runoff from household waste
and agrochemicals are exacerbated during the wet seasons in all segments.
In terms of variation by segment, burning the Morass to catch fish occurs mainly in the
Northern, Central, and Southern Segments, and fires are also set in the Central and Southern
Segments to improve grazing and in the Northern, Central, and Eastern Segments to clear land
for cultivation. Fisherfolk in the Northern and Central Segments, especially Middle Quarters
and Punches/Cataboo respectively, complain of scarcity of fish/shrimp. The boat tours affect
mainly the Central Segment localities of Punches/Cataboo and the Southern segment's Salt
Spring. Dunder fish kills are a problem for the residents of the Southern Segment as well as for
the Central Segment communities, especially Frenchman and Slipe. Soil erosion plagues the
agricultural areas of the Northern and Eastern Segments, and scarce thatch is reported in the
Central and Southern Segments.
Independent of season, but with calendrical regularity, ecotourism waxes and wanes depending
on holidays and vacations, with more tourists visiting in December (the Christmas month), and
in the vacation months of July and August. Finally, the cutting of wood for construction and
fuel, as well as thatch cutting for craftmaking and construction, are less dependent on season,
but constitute severe depletion. In particular, extensive logging of large an small hardwoods
mahoee, mahogany), royal palms, mangrove and other trees (cottonwood, broadleaf, etc.) in the
heart of the Morass, i.e., around the Limestone Islands, is seriously depleting the Morass
forests, as well as eroding the banks of the rivers (e.g., Black, Broad, Salt Spring Rivers).
Summary of the Consequences of Human Activities on the Morass
The following appear to be some of the major consequences and effects of human activities on
1. Erosion accelerated by extensive logging of mangroves and other trees
The high demand for construction materials for houses and tourist attractions has meant
that such species as the royal palms, white and red mangroves, logwood, mahoe, and others
have been and are being systematically logged by a few individuals on a regular and
consistent basis. Loggers use slightly larger dugout canoes, which they equip with outboard
motors. They fell the trees with chain saws and then stock pile them. Subsequently, they
return, and using a method in which the large canoes are filled with water, the trees are
floated in the water inside the canoes and brought to places in the Limestone Islands where
they are loaded into large trucks and taken to sawmills locally and elsewhere. Sawmills in
the area are inefficient and only cut two to three boards from each tree; they tend to discard
the remainder of the tree.
In addition, mangroves have always been harvested for charcoal making in the area, but the
household data actually show that, because of the increased use of kerosene and other more
desirable cooking fuels (e.g., wood is free and hence used by the lower income households),
the production of charcoal is not nearly as detrimental as the cutting of mangroves for
construction poles. This contrasts with studies from 1988 and 1990 which found that
75% of households use wood or charcoal as cooking fuel and identified the burning of
wood-based fuels as the largest consumer of forest products and hence a major factor in the
destruction of Jamaica's forests (Eyre 1988; George 1990; World Bank 1988).
The most recent aerial photographs of the area were taken in 1991/92. While the analysis
of these in relation to earlier series taken in the 1960s and 1980s is still in process, it is
necessary to point out that the extensive logging in the past two years would not be shown
2. Bank erosion from boat wakes, clearing of water hyacinth, agricultural activities, and tree
Various sections of the banks of the Black River, Salt Springs River, and other Morass
waterways are being eroded by boat wakes that are exacerbated when boat operators travel
at excessive speeds. The usual procedure of the typical boat tour is to cruise slowly to
stopping point and then to race back to the tour's origin. The three major tour companies
in Black River are very cognizant of this problem and could regulate their own personnel
more carefully if mandated, but still other boat operators go unchecked, especially those
with outboards on sea vessels from such areas as Treasure Beach. Poorly trained operators
and the geometric increase in number of boats and tourists are also factors that contribute to
such erosion. Furthermore, certain types of boats cause more damage than others. In
particular, the V-hulled shaped boats produce greater wakes than the pontoon boats.
Dunder produced by Appleton Estates feeds the water hyacinth, and the Drainage Board
spend a large amount of time cutting it away from the banks. Unfortunately, cutting
contributes to weakening the river banks. Similarly, activities by local fisherfolk and
farmers who cut into the banks for channels also has the same effects. Persons involved in
tree cutting have mostly cut from behind the banks, leaving a thin line of foliage (on the
Black River) or mangrove trees (on the Salt Spring River) next to the banks. In a number of
areas, it is possible to see places that have been reduced to saw grasses as a result of
cutting large trees from behind the banks, generally burning the area, and lapping wakes
from the water side.
3. Drainage of the Morass
Trenching and other land-clearing mechanisms for slash-and-bum agriculture (including ganja
production) often contribute to the inadvertent drainage of the wetlands. The channels that
are cut to reduce the spontaneous combustion of water hyacinth are also a source of human-
induced hydrological change. Local efforts are also made periodically to drain parts of the
Morass for pasture, agriculture, and land to build homes.
Many area residents are desirous of obtaining Morass lands, and many believe that it was a
good thing to have drained the Upper Morass. However, virtually no one from Black River
and surrounding communities has seen the Upper Morass. People in the area are unaware
that rice production has ended, and that the Upper Morass is currently a flat, treeless area
with defunct pumps, 104 dug-out acres for commercial fish ponds, roads that have reverted
to weeds, and abandoned mills and equipment.
4. Change in flora and faunal species
The extraction of lumber from the swamp forests has severely affected some important
genetic resources such as stands of Blue Mahoe (Hibiscus elatus) (Haynes-Sutton 1990).
Birds may have moved to different places to avoid the ever-increasing human visitors. The
extent of bird shooting and the effect of this activity on the area's avial species or the
environment has yet to be assessed; however, anecdotal information suggests that
"regulations concerning shooting are not generally observed" (Haynes-Sutton 1990).
Whether or not the activity would continue to be permitted should the region become a
protected area would have to be determined. Until then, the number and species taken
should be monitored.
Manatees, which used to figure prominently in the area's aquatic species, are near
extinction, as are several other species (Haynes-Sutton 1990 and this report, Annex B).
Fish kills continue to increase with the increase in under concentration caused by
expanding rum production. Unlike the manatees that have been killed or driven from the
area, the crocodile population has actually increased, putting them in even greater contact
with people. They are now found in more parts of the Black and Salt Spring Rivers, and
recently in the Middle Quarters River, as well as in the Caribbean sea and coastal beaches
from the town of Black River to Parottee.
5. Water pollution
Water that is distributed by pipe in some areas can no longer be used for drinking or even
bathing due to the increasing toxicity. This situation is especially evident in Middle
Quarters. Pollution of Morass water by agrochemicals and human wastes is increasing, and
local residents in Middle Quarters and the Limestone Islands complain of rashes after
bathing. Residents have already stopped using Morass water for drinking. Also, industry
in area, such as the fish factory in the Upper Morass, the Pimento Factory in Middle
quarters, and the Holland Estates use the Black, Middle Quarters and other rivers to
dispose of effluent and packaging wastes.
6. Non-sustainable fishing practices
Overfishing and the removal of premature stock has been steadily increasing. Some
fishermen dam channels to increase yield, not only interrupting the natural flow of water in
the rivers but also contributing to overfishing that has been occurring in the area. Metal
traps that have been damaged and subsequently deserted can be found along the floor of
Morass waterways, leading to inadvertent killing of fish and other aquatic fauna.
The abundance of freshwater shrimp, a product especially pertinent to the livelihood of
households in the Middle Quarters region, seems to be reduced in recent years. Although
aware of how the increase in the number of shrimp higglers has decreased sales and
increased inter-occupational competition, members of this occupation do not acknowledge
the endangered availability of freshwater shrimp. Fishermen and higglers alike fail to see
their immediate connection with the "health" of the Morass and hence do not seem to be
particularly concerned with the preservation of the natural habitat that supports their
livelihood. In fact, "most of the higglers and fishermen feel that there are enough materials
in the Morass for everyone, regardless of the extent of use" (Dudash 1995:60).
7. Burning of Morass grasses
The sedge grasses in the Morass are periodically burned by fishermen for easier passage to
waterways and to facilitate the placement of various trapping devices. Farmers cut grasses
to provide mulch for certain cash crops such as tobacco and dasheen, as well as to provide
their livestock with young, tender shoots for fodder. However, residents throughout the
Morass areas note the increased frequency of burs and the increasing larger amounts of
Morass lands being burned.
VII. ATTITUDES AND PERCEPTIONS OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Attitudes Towards Environmental Problems
The project carried out a number of attitudinal surveys concerning various stakeholders'
perceptions of environmental problems and solutions. These consisted of: (1) an Environmental
Attitude Survey (EAS) for members of local and national ENGOs; (2) a photo-sort technique
on the most important local environmental problems for members of BREPA and Morass
community members; and (3) an instrument that asked about changes in environmental
resources among Morass community members.
In order to prepare for any interventions in the area in terms of protected areas or conservation,
it seemed useful to survey the attitudes of leaders in the area, as well as of Morass community
residents. As such, several instruments were used. The Environment Attitude Survey (EAS)
was administered to 17 BREPA/SEEA members, 20 Black River business persons who were
not BREPA members, and 27 government and ENGO leaders in Kingston who attended the
project's workshop in June 1995. The EAS was modified slightly for the latter sample, as they
did not know local Black River issues. For example, Question 1, "Tourism contribute greatly
to preserving Black River community beauty" was modified to "Tourism contributes to
preserving a community's beauty. (The scale is 1 for strong agreement to 5 for strong
The results show that tourism (Questions 1-3) is seen more positively by non-BREPA (NB)
members. The other environmentalists (OE) group is least positive. All groups tend to think
that a natural park (Question 4) would be beneficial. BREPA members are strongly aware of
the increase in boats in Black River in Question 5 (4.59), and they and the OE rate damage
greater than the NB members. Considering Questions 7 and 8, tourism is more important to the
BREPA an NB respondents' livelihood than the integrity of the Morass itself. It should be
noted that all three ecotour owners are BREPA members. BREPA and OE members more
strongly disagree that peat mining, mulch grasses, draining the Morass, and logging should not
be allowed (Questions 9-12). All groups believe the government should prevent ganja
cultivation in the Morass, with NB being slightly stronger in this regard (Question 13). All
groups, but BREPA more strongly, are against spear gun and net fishing (Questions 14-15).
BREPA is less neutral as to whether or not fishing (Question 16) causes environmental damage
(3.53) compared to the other groups (2.85 and 2.84). All groups view under and
agrochemicals as causing environmental damage (Questions 17 and 18).
The OE group is more concerned that the Morass be protected (Question 20) at 1.88; that fires
are a problem (Question 21) at 1.54; that the Morass is not just wasteland (Question 22); that
dumping garbage is a severe environmental problem (Question 23) at 1.31; and that
environmental protection is not too expensive for Jamaica. NB members are least concerned
(Questions 20-2.15; 21-2.00; 22-3.95; 23-1.80; and 24-4.20) while BREPA members are
intermediate (Questions 21-1.94; 22-4.52; 23-1.71; and 24-4.47). On Question 20, BREPA
members are less concerned (2.41) than the others.
Looking at the environmental attitude survey as a whole, national environmental groups are
more "environmentally correct" in that they understand and rate the effects of degradation more
severely. However conceptually accurate they are, they do not live in a Morass area. NB
members are least concerned about the environment and more concerned about income-earning
considerations. The lesson from this survey is that local ENGO members are more aware than
other prominent citizens, and probably both groups of leaders are much more favorable to
environmental protection than residents who derive a living from the Morass.
Perceptions of Environmental Problems and Solutions
Data on perceptions of problems of local environmental problems were collected using a photo-
sort technique administered to a sample of people from the Morass communities, as well as to
BREPA members. (These items are listed on the inside back cover of this report). Twenty
photographs depicting major issues previously identified by community residents and
purposefully photographed were selected by the research team for each subject's consideration.
Subjects had the opportunity to suggest additional problems before placing them in a rank order
from most serious to those of least concern. Subjects were asked to list and rank the ten most
important, with a score of 10 for the highest, although some chose fewer than ten items.
Table 7, Annex A illustrates the two samples in terms of three numerical scores: the average
rank scores of those mentioning the problem; the average rank scores for the total sample; and
the percentage of the total subjects mentioning the problem. No subjects in the community
sample listed among the ten most serious environmental problems too many ecotour boats,
engine oil from these boats, land scarcity for housing, mangrove depletion, thatch scarcity, or
large tree depletion. BREPA members did mention these items but did not mention crocodiles
or theft, which were counted as major problems by 14% and 29% of the community
respondents respectively. Both samples listed burning/fires in the Morass, under, and garbage
with high frequencies, but BREPA members listed charcoal making, logging, shrimp/crab
scarcity, and water problems with significantly higher frequencies than did the participants
from the Morass communities.
It is interesting to note that problems of immediate concern (such as theft and crocodiles) were
listed by the community members, whereas BREPA members who for the most part live in the
town of Black River, rather than in the Morass communities, list the more long-term
environmental issues (e.g., tree depletion and the effects of ecotour boats) as more severe.
Not only were subjects asked to list the problems, but they were also asked to suggest
solutions. BREPA members had little difficulty listing solutions, although many of them said
government should be responsible for solutions, and both groups frequently suggested
educational campaigns and government regulations. However, people in both samples
suggested positive, negative, and creative solutions, some of which entailed individual and
community involvement (Table 8, Annex A). For example, it was suggested that under be
disposed of in smaller quantities over longer periods of time, by recycling to dry and press it
into bricks, as well as by regulatory actions and prosecution by government. Negative
suggestions included blocking the road at Appleton Rum Factory, removing Appleton at the
expense of the local job market, and even "bombing" the factory, demonstrating that emotions
run high on this issue.
The fact that subjects were able to suggest solutions contradicts several previous
socioeconomic surveys of the area, that focused on general problems and needs rather than on
the environment. A 1991 survey listed employment, roads, water, transportation, electricity,
and a training center as major needs. The government was considered by a major proportion of
the respondents as being responsible for fulfilling these requirements (UDC 1990: 18). "For
every rank of need...the community itself was seen by less than 1% of respondents as having
the ability to deal with it" (UDC 1991:8). There has been a tendency, because of two-party
politics, for communities to rely on political parties and government to address problems as a
means of political patronage, especially around election time. Visible projects such as road
repair, garbage collection, and river cleaning are examples of such campaign-based efforts.
There has been very little by way of community coordination and/or self-help projects and
limited private sector assistance. In casual discussions during this research, many people
reiterated the idea that government was responsible, and that only the government could help,
while rich entrepreneurs could take care of their own interests. In general, most people say that
they expect outsiders to offer financial assistance. Only very rarely do the communities look
towards themselves for the solutions to the problems. Hence, suggestions such as community
efforts to maintain roads may reflect a new realization that self-help may be more productive
than hand-outs or patronage.
Perceptions of Change in Environmental Resources
Participants in the Household Survey in the three communities (Limestone Islands, Middle
Quarters and Vineyard) were asked about their perceptions of changes in environmental
resources such as firewood, construction wood, amount of trees, fish and shrimp, water
supply, wildlife, pasture land, and amount of garbage. As many had little education,
respondents were asked to rate each resource as to whether or not there were more, the same,
or less of it. Table 9, Annex A provides pie charts for each resource by community. All see
firewood as being less abundant, but 20% in Slipe and 23% in Middle Quarters (MQ) see more
being available. It is possible that Slipe (used here generically for the Limestone Island
communities) and MQ residents are using Morass sources. Similarly, most perceive less
construction wood, although 40% in Slipe do not As extensive logging takes place here, it is
not surprising that some see this decrease in forest products. This is reflected in the question
about the amount of trees. Approximately half of the Slipe residents do not perceive there to
be fewer trees, while 24% perceive more trees as being available. This may account for the
extensive logging going on in the area.
It is difficult to know if people fish less because they believe there are less fish, or if fewer fish
causes them to fish less, or if they just have other livelihood enterprises. In any case, the
Limestone Islands are surrounded by the Morass and fishing is a main system there. The
Household Survey shows that the communities are differentiated by whether or not there is
fishing. Only 25% in MQ and 23% of Vineyard households do any fishing compared with
69% in the Limestone Islands (Table 26, Annex A). Perceptions as shown in the pie charts are
the inverse to the number of households that fish. Combining "same" or "more," 41% in Slipe,
36% in MQ, and 24% in Vineyard believe the fish supply to be adequate.
Slipe and Vineyard residents say they are receiving more water or getting a better water supply
(50% and 33%) than in MQ (26%). On the other hand, MQ has more (better?) garbage
disposal (50%) compared to Slipe (21%) and Vineyard (19%) where residents say they receive
less. Pasture land in Vineyard is still abundant (the same or more according to 79%) compared
to being less in MQ (71%) and Slipe (59%). The question on wildlife is interesting because
many environmentalists argue that there is less wildlife in the area. Most Morass residents
include crocodiles (and less so birds) in this category; hence, Slipe (50%) and MQ (44%)
residents perceive there is more wildlife.
Conclusions from these data are that some local residents are concerned with reduction in
natural resources in general, but others are not because they do not perceive any problem.
VIII. POLICY IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
A comparison with another wetlands area in Jamaica is useful for discussing potential
conservation paths for the Lower Black River Morass. In terms of conservation, the Negril
wetlands area is further along than the Lower Black River Morass (NRCA 1993). In Negril, a
community workshop and action agenda in 1993 preceded the development of an
Environmental Protection Plan that was developed in 1995 (NAEPT 1995).
Although local ENGOs were in existence in Negril, an environmental trust was set up to
"manage trust funds, receive and administer donor funds, operate income-generating activities,
and implement environmental improvement projects" (NAEPT 1993:5). Mechanisms for
working with government agencies (e.g., NRCA and UDC), as well as with donors (e.g.,
USAID and CIDA) were set up. The plan delineates goals and objectives, action programs,
implementation strategies, protection area boundaries, community environmental issues, roles
and responsibilities (of local and national political bodies, ministries, and ENGOs), enforcement
and compliance strategies, as well as watershed and wildlife protection recommendations
This type of model for an environmental protection area could be replicated in the Lower Black
River Morass area; however, there are some important differences. Other than BREPA/SEEA,
St. Elizabeth lacks the number of local organizations (ENGOs and other associations), large
hotels (some of which were local sponsors) that are present in Negril. BREPA/SEEA would
need to be strengthened for it to be transformed into an entity that could take the lead in
forming a coordinating committee, or a coalition of business and environmental groups, and
ultimately a trust for a protection association. BREPA has taken a new initiative to broaden its
membership and geographical area by becoming Parish-wide as SEEA, but this does not mean
that, even if strengthened, it could take the lead. Most likely a coalition of ENGOs and
government agencies are necessary.
A donor project such as DEMO funded by USAID would need to commit technical assistance
to such a project in St. Elizabeth. It would need to be determined as to whether or not Negril's
Great Morass contains as many local residents who earn a livelihood from it, as is the case for
the Lower Black River Morass, and how these individuals are factored into the Negril Plan.
Morass community residents in St. Elizabeth are leery about being a protected area because of
potential restrictions on their livelihoods.. The fact that some elites and politicians may be
desirous of such a plan, actually contributes to the fears of local some Morass residents.
The data presented here show that for the most part, Morass users do not make the connection
between their usage and the need for sustainability of its resources. So-called "free"
commodities that are there for the taking (such as trees, thatch, and grasses) or catching (such as
fish, shrimp, crabs, turtles, birds, crocodiles, etc.) are perceived as being available to those who
want to expend the time and have the knowledge of capture and extraction. Coupled with this
problem is the lack of employment opportunities, as the area has less tourism and industry
than other areas, as was noted in the recent poverty alleviation study.
The St. Elizabeth Parish Council will be critical in preparing and implementing any plan.
Currently, members have agendas that both help and hinder conservation, and therefore a plan
that all can support and implement is critical. There is awareness amongst this governing body
of the need to regulate marine activities (e.g., the wharf, boat speeds, operator licenses), but
unless there is a coordinated plan, these regulations may be piece-meal in conception, as well as
in enforcement (e.g., by the Parish Council, local authorities, and NRCA wardens).
As a result of the project's workshop in Kingston in June 1995, the Minister of the
Environment and Housing canceled the lease of the Black River wetlands to private investors.
The minister's decision is "in accordance with the policy position of the ministry not to
divest" wetland holdings (Herald, June 28, 1995); previous efforts to "halt the exercise have
proven futile as persons have ignored the council's position" (Herald, June 25, 1995).
Therefore, national efforts must be in concert with local ones and vice-versa. This points to the
need for local governing bodies to have full national support. Any regulatory or conservation
plan through NRCA would require the same type of support. In closing, it is hoped that action
can be taken for a protected area in the Lower Black River Morass and that a delineation of
stakeholders and their uses and abuses can be factored into a plan for such a designation, as well
as for implementation strategies.
1. Regulate boating activities on the entire waterway/riverine system. Regulation should
include boat speeds, types and numbers of boats, types of operators (local fishermen, local
tour companies, outside boaters), and licensing for boats and operators on the Lower Black
River, Salt Spring River, Middle Quarter/Gayle River, YS River, Styx River, etc. It appears
that pontoon boats cause the least wake, and certainly cause much less than the V-hull shaped
boats. Pontoon boats should be encouraged for eco-tours, as they have slower speeds, and can
accommodate a number of passengers. The three eco-tour companies in Black River each have
at least one of these types of boats, in addition to the V-hull boats. A primary source of
excessive boat wakes come from V-hull sea fishing boats coming from the Treasure Beach and
other coastal areas. It is these boats that "zoom" up and down the Morass rivers, causing
wakes to disturb fishermen and slap into the banks. Cooperation of the local Black River eco-
tour companies could be enlisted in regulation.
2a. Regulate and monitor the under released from Appleton Estate. At the June 1995
project workshop in Kingston, the manager of Appleton Estate indicated that 75% of the
under wastes would be rechanneled and "cleaned up" by 1996, to meet NRCA requirements.
Appleton did not specify the process by which this would be accomplished. The Minister of
the Environment and Housing and others at the workshop asked about the other 25%, but
received no response. In addition to NRCA's regulations, Appleton is also fearful of the loss
of international sales in such environmentally concerned countries as Canada, the Netherlands,
and the Scandinavian countries. A system to monitor water quality in the affected rivers
(Black, Broad and Salt Spring) needs to be put in place.
Currently, the Drainage Board spends much of its time and funds to clean the rivers of water
hyacinth, that is fertilized by the under. (The large stands of water hyacinth are only found in
the Black and parts of the Salt Spring Rivers where the under drains). Dunder has been used
for cattle feed, baskets, and other products elsewhere (National Academy of Sciences 1976),
and these might have use locally. With reduction of the expected reduction of under because
of regulations imposed on Appleton Estates, the Drainage Board could become involved in
other riverine activities, including monitoring.
2b. Monitor and regulate other factories. Design a method to regulate and upgrade the
Pimento Factory in Middle Quarters in terms of its fuelwood usage and pollution emissions.
Similarly, agrochemical runoff from Holland Estates and factory wastes (plastics, chemicals,
etc.) from the fish factory in the Upper Morass, need to be monitored and regulated.
3. Take new aerial photographs of the Morass to map the deforestation. Current aerial
photographs of the area are needed to compare with previous series because of the recent
intensification of deforestation of the Morass forests. Local sawmills should be inventoried to
obtain data on numbers and species of trees purchased by them and sold to customers.
4. Form a committee to develop an environmental action plan and trust, as the first step
into turning the Morass into a protected area. Such a committee should consist of members
from the following local and national bodies or agencies. The goals should be to prepare an
environmental action plan for a protected area and for the formation of an environmental trust
that can receive and manage funds, operate income producing activities, and implement
environmental improvement projects similar to the one formed in Negril (NEPT 1995).
a. St. Elizabeth Environmental Association
b. Mayor and Parish Council
c. South Coast Resort Board
d. NRCA--local representative
f. Tourist Board
g Police Department
h. Local boat and eco-tour owners
i. t. Elizabeth Homecoming Foundation
j. Town Planning Department
k. Appleton and Holland Estates
1. Local fishermen and shrimp higglers
a NRCA--regional and national representatives
b. Urban Development Corporation
c. National Irrigation Commission
d. National Investment Bank
e. Ministry of Environment and Housing
f. National Water Commission
g Ministry of Agriculture; Forestry, Fisheries,
h. Wildlife Protection Unit
i. Public Works Department
j. Roads and Works Department
k. Tourist Action Plan
1. DEMO project
m. Other donors
5. Develop zones for a protected area and prepare a time frame for phasing them in. It
is suggested that a series of zones be formulated so that the implementation of a designated
protected area can begin. At present, there is the notion of one large area, and there are many
stakeholders involved in defining the boundaries by including or excluding certain areas of
personal concern. It would be better to define smaller zones and have a time frame for including
the various zones.
6. Develop local projects to assist with environmental conservation and income
production and submit to DEMO/USAID, NRCA, World Bank, CIDA, and other donors.
a. Forestry projects:
Design a project for women basket makers for planting and conserving the Sabal Palm tree and
other trees used in basket making for the tourist trade. This could be combined with a marketing
cooperative for basket type products, as well as an area retail store operated in the town of
Black River. Similarly, propagation of other tree species used for their fronds (such a Royal
Palm fronds used in tourist bars) could be considered for men and women.
Design a project to improve usage of trees by sawmills. Present sawmills cut two to three
boards from each tree and discard the rest. What is required is more efficient use of trees for
construction lumber, as well as for using tree remnants for press board, paper, resins. etc. The
large number of trees cut for these mills is both wasteful and undervalues the true cost of trees.
Design a project to monitor deforestation and to replant local species trees in Morass wetlands
and other areas. Afforestation projects must take into account differential usage of forest
products by gender. Women will be more interested in wood for fuel, while men will be
interested in trees for construction materials.
b. Training courses:
Design a course for eco-boat operators that includes information on environmental conservation
and flora and faunal species in the Morass and elsewhere, as well as guidelines for operating
boats and boat speeds. The course could be created in conjunction with the three major tour-
boat operators, some of whom already give some of this type of information to their operators.
Local guidebooks on the Black River Morass, the YS Falls, and other scenic areas need to be
Design a course for volunteer environmental wardens and local residents that includes
information on environmental problems, conservation principles, and suggestions for dealing
with violations. Information should be included on the major environmental issues identified
by the project (see inside back cover), issues of drainage versus conservation of the Morass,
effects of agrochemicals by farmers on water quality, and plans for developing a protected area.
Environmental education courses and materials are needed for the majority of residents in the
area, at all levels. Some school programs are currently being aimed at children, but little is being
done for adults, who are the main resource users and abusers.
A number of residents, political leaders and BREPA/SEEA members have remarked about the
need for an environmental education center in the area to promote awareness and enforcement.
If such an idea become reality, it will be necessary to guard against the usual problem of using
central locations which is that rural and remote areas are excluded.
c. Boat recycling/conversion:
Design a project to recycle, convert, reduce V-shaped hull boats on the Black and Salt Spring
Rivers, and use pontoon boats instead. In addition, such a project could assist fishermen with
the manufacture and purchase of fiberglass canoes as a way to slow the cutting of cottonwood
trees used for canoes.
d. Fisheries projects:
Design a project to increase production of fish, shrimp, and crab by preparing
nurseries/hatcheries and other facilities for both conservation and commercial purposes. One
resident in Salt Spring has already begun a crab nursery/hatchery, as well as a commercial crab
sales outlet, and other such operations could be developed. Dudash (Annex B, page 9)
recommends improvement of marketing techniques for women shrimp higglers, as well as
developing a shrimp farm that women could operate cooperatively
e. Wildlife protection projects:
Design a project to protect and conserve crocodiles and to circumscribe their territories, so they
are not in areas of high human habitation, and their numbers are monitored.
1. Another report by Dr. Katherine Ellins will address: (1) changes in land use patterns and
wetland decline; (2) hydrologic differences, that may influence the delivery of water-borne
pollutants; and (3) changes in numbers and amounts of flora and fauna species as a result of
human activities. A wetlands ecological inventory will be carried out through the examination
of aerial photographs and topographic maps.
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Map 1 Parishes in Jamaica with Major Places and Constituencies of St. Elizabeth
Map 2 Communities in St. Elizabeth where the Project carried out Rapid Rural Appraisals,
Surveys and Interviews
QUARTERS HOLLAND *
BAPTIST . .
PUNCHES .. .
.ATA BURNT ".
LOWER CATABOO GROUND
WORKS \. ."
SALT BURNT '
S. ....SPRING SAVANNAH
SEA .'. -. KNOWW OD
S. VINEYARD .
SPICE '. *
GROVE . .
PAROTEE '. .'.. '.'. "
*-- Roads ""Rivers Morass/Wetlands Dry land
0 2 4 6 8 10kmA
.. .I .I.I I I I I. I.I .
Table 1 Stakeholders In The Lower
Black River Morass
Fisherfollk morass and deep sea; fish and shrimp
Shrimp sellers: higglers
Farmers: subsistence, small scale, commercial, includes crops,
Craft persons: basket makers, wood carvers
Charcoal makers, loggers
Business persons, shopkeepers, and vendors-local and
Wage earners--full-time and seasonal
Boat tour owners and workers
Factories and estate owners and operators
Tourists and tour companies
Bird shooters in elite gun clubs
Local environmental groups, e.g., BREPA
National environmental groups, e.g., JCDT, NEST
International environmental groups, e.g., Nature
* National researchers, e.g., University of the West Indies
* International researchers, e.g., University of Florida
* Local/national politicians and political bodies, e.g., Parish
Council, Parish MPs, political parties
* National governing bodies, e.g., Ministry of Environment
and Natural Resources
* National regulatory bodies, e.g., NRCA
* Bilateral and multilateral donors and funded projects, e.g.,
Table 2 Household System Types of the
Lower Black River Morass
Mixed agriculture (crops and/or cattle) and fishing,
1 w/without higgling
Fishing with subsistence agriculture (crops and/or cattle),
2 w/without higgling
Agriculture (crops and/or cattle) with some fishing
Agriculture (crops and/or cattle)
Shrimp higgling (Female-headed households)
(a. Modification for Middle Quarters)
Crafts, subsistence agriculture and livestock, with or without
6 shrimp higgling (Female-headed households)
Deep sea fishing with Morass fishing and agriculture (crops
7 and/or cattle)
a. Remittances and pensions
b. Local employment
c. Outside employment
Ecoprenuers and entrepreneurs
Table 2b Lower Black River Morass Geographical Segments
by Household System Type
1. North/northwest Segment
Holland Estate: System 8b (workers on commercial orange, coconut, mango, cane; workers)
Middle Quarters and Baptist
Systems 1 with/without higgling, 2 with/without higgling, 3, 4, 5, and 8a, b, c
Pimento Factory workers, System 8b
2. Central Segment
Limestone Islands: Frenchman. Slipe. Cataboo, Punches,
Systems 2 with/without higgling, 3, 6, 8a, b, c, and 9
Systems 1, 2, 3, 4, 8a, b, c, and 9
3. Eastern Segment
Burnt Savannah and Knoxwood
Systems 3, 4, and 8a, b, c
4. Southern Segment
Systems 1 without higgling, 2 without higgling, 3,4, and 8a, b, c
Parottee and Spice Grove
Systems 4, 7, 8a, b, c, and 9
Black River, Lower Works, and Luana
Systems 1 without higgling, 2 without higgling, 3, 4, 7, 8a, b, c, and 9
: Mixed Agriculture and Fishing (with or without Shrimp higgling)
wood for fuel
fish and shrimp
System 2: Fishing with Subsistence Agriculture
with/without Shrimp Higgli
fish and shrimp
11 I I C.
Agriculture with some Fishing
- Crops &/or Cattle
System 5: Shrimp Higglers (Female Headed Households)
;hrimp pots, crafts
system 5aShrimp Higglers
(Female Headed Households)
, Subsistence Agriculture & Livestock,
with or without Shrii
(Female Headed Households)
: Deep-sea Fishing with Morass Fishing and Agriculture
System 8a: Remittances and pensions
al fishermen and farme
System 8b:Local employment
Local fishermen and farmers] cash
Job within commr
System Bc: Outside employment
al fishermen and farme
Job outside cor
Ecotourism and Entreprenurial Activities
Food and drir
Human Interventions in the Morass, by Segment
SEGMENT AND SYSTEM
(Middle Quarters, Baptist,
(Black River, Lower Works,
Luana, Vineyard, Salt Springs,
Parottee, and Spice Grove)
(Frenchman, Slipe, Cataboo,
EASTERN (Burnt Savanna,
INTO THE MORASS
Pimento factory waste
River bank erosion
Old fish traps
OUT OF THE MORASS
Dasheen and rice grown
Fish and shrimp
Water for pimento factory
Drainage of land for agriculture
Wood (including mangroves)
Fish and crab
Drainage of land for agriculture
Fish, shrimp, and crab
Thatch for crafts and shrimp pots
Drainage of land for agriculture
Drainage of land for agriculture
Drainage of land for agriculture
Problems and Constraints
REGION GENERAL PROBLEMS AND MAJOR SYSTEM TYPES (and number) SYSTEM-SPECIFIC PROBI
*Middle Quarters, Baptist, *Flooding on roads *Shrimp higgling (System 5) 'Fluctuation in shrimp catch
*Poor access to drinking water Mixed fishing and agriculture (Systems *Shrimp marketing problems
*Mosquitoes 1,2,3) *River needs to be cleaned re
**Outside income (System 8)
*Frenchman, Slipe, Cataboo, *Underemployment *Fishing/ with some agriculture (System *Dunder/fish kills
Punches *Poor access to drinking water 2) *Fluctuation in shrimp and fi
*Aggressive crocodiles *Crafts, shrimp higgling, subsistence *Weak craft market
*Mosquitoes agriculture (System 6) *Shortage of thatch
*Agriculture with some fishing (System *Morass burning
*Outside income (System 8)
*Salt Spring, Vineyard, *Crocodiles *Agriculture and fishing (Systems 1,2,3) *Ecotour boat noise scares fis
Arlington *Lack of jobs for young *Dunder/fish kills
*Road flooding *Scarcity of thatch
*Mosquitoes *Low prices for baskets
*Black River *Fishing sea and river with some *Ecotour boat noise scares fis
agriculture (System 7) *Dunder/fish kills
*Agriculture, no fishing (System 4)
*Outside income (System 8)
*Parottee, Spice Grove *Fishing sea and river some *High costs of boats and eng
agriculture (System 7)
*Burnt Savanna *Agriculture and fishing (System 1) *"Sour" soil (anaerobic decor
*Knoxwood *Outside income (System 8) *River channels not cleaned c
Table 5 Environmental Stress Calendar
D J F M A M J J A S O N
SEASON Dry Wet/Hurricane Dry Wet
To catch fish
For improved grazing
Flooding of roads
o0000o 0 00000 00000 0o0
asIIUI IIUUsI1S IIUIII IsUas
00000 00000 c00000 cooC
sssaIs aas'sI Issass1 sssuIss
000 000 000 001 111 111 111 00I 00000 000
000 000 000 000 000 000 OOO 000 00OO 000
Heavy Stress Moderate Stress
accc = Central Segment c = Central Segment
nnnnn = Northern Segment nnn = Northern Segment
eec = Eastern Segment eee = Eastern Segment
sssss = Southern Segment sss = Southern Segment
Table 6 Survey of Environmental Attitudes, BREPA and Non-BREPA Members
and Other Environmentalists
1= Strongly Agree; 2= Agree;
4= Disagree; 5= Strongly Disagree
QUESTIONS BREPA Non-BREPA Other
Members Members Environment
n= 17 n=20 n=27
Mean Mean Mean
1. Tourism contributes to
preserving Black River
community beauty 2.53 1.55 3.56
2. Black River benefits
significantly from tourism 2.94 2.40 3.22
3. Black River should work to
increase tourism 1.71 1.35 2.26
4. A national park in Black
River would help people 1.59 1.75 1.74
5. Number of boats on Black
River remain same for past 5
years 4.59 3.80 3.44
6. Boat tours on Black River
cause damage to the
environment 2.82 3.45 2.08
7. Tourism is important to my
livelihood 2.18 2.40 2.63
8. The morass does not affect
my life or business 3.41 3.20 4.59
9. Companies should be allowed
to collect morass grasses for
mulch 3.71 3.65 4.00
10. Peat mining should be
permitted in the morass 4.18 3.45 4.46
11. Best use would be to drain
the morass to create
agricultural land 4.35 3.50 4.89
12. Logging should be legal and
open to anyone 4.29 4.15 4.80
13. Government should do more
to prevent ganja cultivation in
the morass 2.41 2.05 2.60
14. Fishing with spear guns
should be permitted 4.12 3.50 3.88
15. Fishing with nets in rivers
should be allowed 4.88 3.50 4.20
16. Fishing and shrimping
cause environmental damage
to the morass 3.53 2.85 2.84
17. Dunder is the main
pollutant in morass rivers 2.06 2.10 2.42
18. Fertilizers and pesticides
are the most serious pollutants
in rivers around here 2.29 2.45 2.27
19. Crocodiles are natural part
of the environment; they don't
harm you if you don't harm
them 1.94 1.80 2.04
20. Morass should be protected
even if it means loss of some
people's income 2.41 2.15 1.88
21. Fires in morass are mostly
set by people 1.94 2.00 1.54
22. The morass is just wasted
land 4.52 3.95 4.85
23. Dumping garbage is a
problem around here 1.71 1.80 1.31
24. Environmental protection
is too expensive for Jamaica 4.47 4.20 4.62
* Other Environmentalists applies to those surveyed at the Kingston and Mandeville
workshops. Their survey was general and did not apply specifically to the Black
River area or the Lower Black River Morass.
Table 7 Ranked Problems by Means and Percent (Community and BREPA Members)
Morass Communities BREPA Members
Mean of Mean % Mean of Mean %
PROBLEMS (listed Those Total Listing Those Total Listing
alphabetically) Listing Sample Item Listing Sample Item
Animals eat crops
6.0 2.6 43 8.0 1.0 13
Boats for ecotours--too
many 3.6 2.3 63
Boats for ecotours--en-
gine oil pollutes river 4.8 3.0 63
Burning/fires in morass
7.0 6.0 86 7.1 7.1 100
2.0 0.3 14 4.5 3.4 86
Crocodiles ( increasing)
8.0 1.1 14
sugar/rum estate 9.3 6.5 71 9.4 8.3 88
6.2 4.4 71 5.8 5.8 100
Land Scarcity for
crops/pasture 6.7 2.9 43 6.3 2.4 38
Land Scarcity for hous-
ing/build in Morass 9.0 1.1 13
Logging of large trees
3.5 1.0 29 6.3 5.5 88
Mangroves cut or die
due to bank erosion 6.1 6.1 100
6.2 4.4 29 1.3 0.4 25
Roads are bad and/or
flood 7.7 7.7 29 1.0 0.3 25
scarcity 5.4 3.9 29 2.8 1.4 50
4.0 1.0 25
Thieves and theft
7.5 2.1 29
Trees (large ones) are
gone 4.3 3.3 75
Water hyacinth clogs
river 6.0 1.7 29 4.0 0.5 13
Water supply problems
5.7 4.9 29 4.3 2.1 50
Table 8 List of Suggested Solutions to Problems
Communities and BREPA Members Sample
Appleton should find alternate way of disposing
People need to pressure government to legislate
Block the road at Appleton
Dispose of under in smaller quantities over a longer period of time
Remove Appleton (though a good employer, they are destroying the river &
Dialogue to come up with consensus discussions with technical people.
Minister of Environment needs to "step" on them
Create projects to recycle under (dry and press into a "charcoal"--they are
working on this in Old Harbor).
Need more settling areas.
Put in place a proper management plan with the right infrastructure
Find other means in which to utilize under, e.g., making coal bricks.
Strict restrictions on the companies violating the environmental system with
power to prosecute if laws are flouted.
There is a technology that can reduce the toxicity of the effluent and it should
Government/MP should fix the roads
Government should build roads with canals
Roads need proper drainage system put in place. Government should dig
culverts for flooding roads
Government should provide resources so community can help resurface
People get together to help clean roads
Community could get marl to fix roads and clean drains
People can help to fix potholes, but they can't tar or grade
Private people with marl in their yards should put it in the road and people in the
community could spread it
People should assist through free labor and they should help to find materials
Have common area for dumping garbage
Each person should bury garbage
Truck should pick up garbage and dispose of it at dump
Public education to instructi people how to dispose of garbage
Government should find place for garbage disposal
Community people should be mobilized to see that outsiders do not come
into the area to throw garbage
Special sites should be established
Garbage trucks move too quickly for people to put their garbage out
Need a better plan for removal.
Educate community of need to avoid proliferation of garbage littering.
Enforce anti-garbage legislation with appointment of relevant officers.
Identify sources and apply appropriate waste management techniques e.g.,
composting by families or provision of regular garbage collection
services to certain areas.
Fine people, especially commercial establishments
A proper management plan is necessary for a legal dump site closer to the
town of B.R. along with a sewage treatment plant for the parish itself.
Government should clean
Drainage Board should clean
Fishermen should help clean it on a regular basis
Once the Drainage Board does it, then the fishermen should maintain it
This needs constant attention. The Parish Council in collaboration with boat
tour operators who arethe primary beneficiaries along with
environmental groups and others, should combine to undertake the
cost of clean-up
Efforts should be made to explore the possibilities of using it for cattle feed.
Government should catch them and put them elsewhere
Kill them, they are not harmless
Burning Fires in the Morass
People do it for their livelihood, for instance to catch turtles
Morass has to be burnt periodically
Each fisherman should have a canal which he keeps clean
Instead of burning people should cut a track through morass instead of going
in the river
If fishermen would cut their channels, there would be no need to burn
Public education on dangers of burning to plant and animal life
Discussion with community leaders to develop solutions to problems.
Implement community outreach programmes along with a rigid public
Penalties should be definitely imposed on those violating (especially on
known persons who cut and sell outside the area).
Government should have forest wardens Government regulations are
needed and should specify the type of tree which can be cut
Community should act as watch dog
Law enforcement more environmental wardens and tree planting drives.
Legal logging requires forestry replanting; beingselectively instead of clear-
Provide more "manpower" along with the proper equipment in order to
carry out law enforcement duties more effectively.
Control logging and replanting programme whereby the types of trees
harvested are listed and replanted. Species should be acceptable to
users. Combine with a public awareness programme
Too many boats and engine oil
Law enforcement for all boats
Need a study to determine carrying capacity, wake limits, etc.
Limit speed and amount of boats by licensing alloperators, including
Implement good policies with a rigid management plan in place.
Get the boat tour operators united under one umbrella to meet the necessary
requirements and standards before a license is issued to them Strict
monitoring is needed because oil gets in the waterand fish, shrimp,
birds and mangroves are killed
Operators of the various tours should be answerable to a regulatory body if
proven that their boats are contributing to the oil contamination
Boats operating on the river should undergointensive fitness examination at
Introduce fiberglass paddle boats which are pollution-free and highly
A coordinated management and monitoring of Black River is needed
Table 9 Perceptions of Changes in Environmental Resources in Slipe,
Middle Quarters and Vineyard from the Household Survey
Construction wood Slipe
Fuelwood Middle Quarters
Construction wood Middle Quarters
Trees Middle Quarters
Construction wood Vineyard
Number of trees
Fish and shrimp Slipe
Fbh and shrimp Middle Quarters
Water Middle Quarters
Wildlife Middle Quarters
Fish and shrimp Vineyard
Fish and shrimp
Garbage Middle Quarters
Pasture Middle Quarters
Table 10 System Types by Community
System Limestone Islands Middle Quarters Vineyard Total
Type N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
1 1 3 2 6 1 3 4 4
2 11 34 2 6 2 7 15 16
3 0 0 0 0 1 3 1 1
4 0 0 8 25 3 10 11 12
5 2 6 1 3 0 0 3 3
6 4 13 0 0 3 10 7 7
8.1 7 22 8 25 5 17 20 21
8.2 5 16 7 22 11 37 23 24
8.3 1 3 3 9 4 13 8 9
9 1 3 1 3 0 0 2 2
Total 32 100 32 100 30 100 94 100
Table I I Wealth Levels by Community
Wealth Limestone Islands Middle Quarters Vineyard Total
Level N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
low 7 22 10 33 10 34 27 30
medium 21 66 15 50 19 66 55 60
high 4 13 5 17 0 0 9 10
Total 32 100 30 100 29 100 91 100
Table IX Remittances by wealth level for three communities
Low Medium High Total
N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
no 19 70 36 65 7 78 62 68
yes 8 30 19 35 2 22 29 32
Total 27 100 55 100 9 100 91 100
Table 13 System types by wealth levels for three communities
System Low Medium High Total
Type N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
1 1 25 3 75 0 0 4 100
2 6 43 6 43 2 14 14 100
3 0 0 1 100 0 0 1 100
4 4 40 6 60 0 0 10 100
5 0 0 3 100 0 0 3 100
6 3 43 4 57 0 0 7 100
8.1 5 25 12 60 3 15 20 100
8.2 6 27 13 59 3 14 22 100
8.3 2 25 5 63 1 13 8 100
9 0 0 2 100 0 0 2 100
Total 27 30 55 60 9 10 91 100
Table t'Wealth levels by system types
System Low Medium High Total
Type N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
1 1 4 3 5 0 0 4 4
2 6 22 6 11 2 22 14 15
3 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 1
4 4 15 6 11 0 0 10 11
5 0 0 3 5 0 0 3 3
6 3 11 4 7 0 0 7 8
8.1 5 19 12 22 3 33 20 22
8.2 6 22 13 24 3 33 22 24
8.3 2 7 5 9 1 11 8 9
9 0 0 2 4 0 0 2 2
Total 27 100 55 100 9 100 91 100
Table IS" Primary cooking fuel by wealth level
Cooking Low Medium High Total
Fuel N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
gas 7 18 24 60 9 23 40 100
wood 20 40 30 60 0 0 50 100
Total 27 30 54 60 9 10 90 100
Table I Water Source by wealth levels
Water Low Medium High Total
Source N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
house 0 0 1 17 5 83 6 100
other 0 0 1 50 1 50 2 100
pipe 18 37 30 61 1 2 49 100
tank 4 36 6 55 1 9 11 100
yard 5 22 17 74 1 4 23 100
Total 27 30 55 60 9 10 91 100
Table 17 Wealth levels by water source
Water Low Medium High Total
Source N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
house 0 0 1 2 5 56 6 7
other 0 0 1 2 1 11 2 2
pipe 18 67 30 55 1 11 49 54
tank 4 15 6 11 1 11 11 12
yard 5 19 17 31 1 11 23 25
Total 27 100 55 100 9 100 91 100
Table 4 Household type by wealth level
HH Low Medium High Total
type N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
DHH 9 28 17 53 6 19 32 100
FHH 12 38 19 59 1 3 32 100
MHH 6 22 19 70 2 7 27 100
Total 27 30 55 60 9 10 91 100
Table 19 Wealth level by household type
HH Low Medium High Total
type N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
DHH 9 33 17 31 6 67 32 35
FHH 12 44 19 35 1 11 32 35
MHH 6 22 19 35 2 22 27 30
Total 27 99 55 101 9 100 91 100
Table 20 Grows Some Food by Community
Limestone Islands Middle Quarters Vineyard Total
N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
Yes 14 48 23 72 19 63 56 62
No 15 52 9 28 11 37 35 35
Total 29 100 32 100 30 100 91 10A
Chi-square equals 41, df = 2 p = 0.162, no significant difference between communities
Table 21 Grows Some Food by Wealth Level
Low wealth Medium wealth High wealth Total
N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
Yes 17 65 32 60 5 56 54 61
No 9 35 21 40 4 44 34 39
Total 26 100 53 100 9 100 88 100_
No significant differences
Table 22 Grows Some Food by Household Type
DHH FHH MHH Total
N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percet
Yes 24 75 14 45 18 64 56 62
No 8 25 17 55 10 36 35
Chi-square equals 6.052, with 2 degrees of freedom, p=.049.
Table 23 Household Construction Materials, by Community
Limestone Islands Middle Quarters Vineyard Total
N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percen
Block 19 73 25 89 26 90 70 84
Wood 7 27 3 11 3 10 13 16
Total 26 100 28 100 30 100 83 100
More wood houses in LI, but not statistically significant
Table 24 Remittances by Community
Limestone Islands Middle Quarters Vineyard Total
N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
Yes 12 38 10 31 9 30 31 67
No 20 63 22 69 21 70 63 33
Total 32 100 32 100 30 100 94 100
No significant differences
Table 25 Remittances by Household Type
Dual Headed Female Headed Male Headed Total
N Percent N Percent N Percent N Pzcent
Yes 11 32 11 34 9 32 31 33
No 23 68 21 66 19 68 63 67
Total 34 100 33 100 29 100 94 100
Almost identical levels of reports of remittances
Table 26 Presence of Fishing by Community
Limestone Islands Middle Quarters Vineyard 7otal
N Percent N Percent N Percent N Percent
Yes 22 69 8 25 7 23.3 37 39
No 10 31.2 24 75 23 76.7 57 61
Total 32 100 32 100 30 100 94 100
Chi-Square =17.574 df= 2 Prob. = 0.000
Table 27 Belief about the Amount of Fish and Shrimp in the Rivers, by
those who Fish Versus Nonfishers
Less Fish Same Amount More Fish
N Percent N Percent N Percen
Fishes 18 58 4 50 7 50
Does not fish 25 42 4 50 7 50
Total 43 100 32 100 30 100
SHRIMP HIGGLERS IN JAMAICA'
Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology
University of Florida, Gainesville Florida
Over the past three decades, the role of women in development has become a major issue in
both academia and development. The primary issues raised have been that women are major
players in most areas of economic and social development throughout the world, and yet have
only recently been recognized as such. Women in Jamaica are no exception, and, in fact,
throughout the Caribbean, they have been primary caretakers of themselves and their families
since the seventeenth century when slavery was at its height. The purpose of this research is
to examine the lives of a small set of women who live in the southwestern corner of Jamaica,
and whose occupation is termed shrimp higgling in order to determine their economic and social
roles and why they have chosen to participate in this unique occupation.
This study focuses on a small group of higglers in the community of Middle Quarters within
the Parish of St. Elizabeth. The women in this area sell cooked fresh water shrimp along the
main highway that runs directly through Middle Quarters. The shrimp have become a well
known and popular food for people driving through Middle Quarters, as well as for visitors
who come through the area on their way to nearby tourist attractions. The higglers are a
population of approximately forty women who cook the shrimp in the same way and sit along
the highway waiting for cars to stop and buy their products. What makes this study unique is
that the higglers themselves, unlike other higglers throughout Jamaica, do not travel long
distances to sell their products but sit along the road often directly in front of their own homes
and wait for the market to come to them. In addition, shrimp higglers rely on a product that is
perishable and relatively scarce. Because of the transient nature of the consumers, higglers have
very few regular buying "customers" and rely on the season and the market to sell their shrimp.
The goal of the study is an analysis of the product shrimp higglers market, and its economic
contributions to the household. The high risks that women take to engage in this occupation
(due to itinerant customers, a waxing and waning market, and the sale of a highly perishable
item) indicates that there are few other economic opportunities in the area. In particular, the
objectives of the research are to determine the prominent features of shrimp higgling in Middle
Quarters; the importance of shrimp higgling at the household level in terms of income, the
gender division of labor, and decision making; wealth differences between shrimp higglers; and
why the occupation exists and whether or not selling is a preference or a necessity.
The research for this thesis was primarily carried out along the two lane highway in the
community of Middle Quarters. Most of the higglers were interviewed at their selling
1 This report is based on "Shrimp Higglers in Jamaica: An Analysis of an Informal Sector Occupation"
Master Thesis, University of Florida, 1995, under the supervision of Dr. Anita Spring.
locations, and the fishermen were interviewed as they were delivering shrimp to the higglers or
as they came in with their catch near the highway. Many of the higglers live along the highway
allowing the opportunity to see their homes and meet their families. The relationship between
the fishermen and the higglers is complicated, and a study of shrimp higglers in Middle
Quarters would be incomplete without a look at the activities of the fishermen and the links
between the two occupations.
The research was conducted in May and June of 1995. Informal unstructured interviews were
goven to various higglers using five general questions. The women were chosen by location and
availability along the highway where they were selling. A total of fifteen women were
interviewed, both individually and in groups. Each interview was conducted using a tape
recorder and written notes. The initial interviews provided enough general information to
formalize an interview schedule which could be used in a set of semi-structured interviews.
The number of shrimp higglers was enumerated during the first few days of the research
(totaling approximately forty sellers). All are women, with the exception of one boy about
twelve years of age. The higglers claim that one man also sells shrimp, but he was not selling
during this research.
Twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted with higglers, some of whom had been
interviewed during the informal interviews, each chosen on the basis of location. The higglers
are located on a stretch of highway about one mile in length, some selling alone in random
locations and some selling together. The majority are located at one building along the highway
called "the square." A representative number of women at each major location on the highway
was interviewed. Other interviews include five in-depth household interviews, two interviews
with spouses of higglers, and five fishermen. The five household interviews combined with the
interviews with the two husbands were an attempt at getting a more in-depth understanding of
household relations and economic situations. Three of the women are heads of household,
while two of the five are married. The husbands and wives were interviewed separately on
different occasions. The purpose of the interviews with the fishermen was to determine their
relationships with the higglers who bought their shrimp. This provides an understanding of the
production side of shrimping and the networks that are formed between fishermen and higglers.
Participant observation included the selling of shrimp to passersby, the preparation of shrimp
from start to finish, the purchasing of shrimp by the higglers, the return of fishermen from a
morning on the river, the interactions of higglers with one another, and the interactions of the
higglers with their customers. Along with participant observation, informal conversations
provided insight into the daily interactions of the higglers with each other and with their
customers, and their opinions about their occupations.
The overwhelming majority of the higglers interviewed claim to sell shrimp in order to feed
their children and send them to school (Table B-l). According to the women, no jobs exist in
Middle Quarters and they have to sell shrimp to make their living. One higgler noted that
Background Information on Middle Quarters'
_ ___ _? _Y_~ El
1 46 P 23
2 55 P 20
3 33 TS 10
4 52 P 20
5 39 P 5mo.
6 ? 3
7 38 P 9
8 35 P 5
9 49 B 9
10 43 P 2
11 50 P o20
12 33 P 7
13 60's P 50
14 31 S 9
15 55 20-251
16 44 P 17
17 42 P 4
18 39 P 2
19 43 TS 7
20 ? P 3mo.
Average 44 12
Trade Learned From
8 1 10
= primary school
= secondary school (high school)
Other indicates various places along the highway not directly
n front of higglers' house
= sister; C
M = mother;
selling shrimp "keeps your pot on the fire," and indicated that she is able to earn enough money
selling shrimp to support her family. The fact that these higglers continue to buy and market
shrimp even when sales are extremely low indicates that their options for earning income
through other means is limited. Additionally, a number of higglers stated that selling shrimp
gives them a feeling of independence. It seems to be important to the women to rely on
themselves and not their partners for income and other resources.
Because higglers vend along the highway, shade and shelter are very important for their sales.
While they prefer to use trees, there are several government built shelters along the highway
constructed for the higglers use. Government shelters are cement and metal structures, similar
to open phone booths, that were built to provide protection and shade to the higglers. By
building the shelters, the government was attempting to make higgling a more formal and proper
looking marketing strategy. They were apparently built three years ago by the Urban
Development Corporation in conjunction with the Black River Chamber of Commerce.
Approximately fifteen shelters were built but never fully completed, and many were falling
down during the research. Only five of the fifteen government-built shelters were in use during
the research due to the fact that construction was not fully completed. Many of the women
complain that the government built shelters do not protect them from rain or the heat of the sun
during daylight hours so they choose not to use the shelters.
Shrimp higglers in Middle Quarters purchase raw shrimp from local fishermen who fish in
Middle Quarters River or in the surrounding communities rivers in Slipe and Black River.
Almost all the higglers buy from fishermen who they consider customers and whom they deal
with on a regular basis. Fishermen become customers simply by asking the higglers to buy
their shrimp, or when the higglers need shrimp, they may go out and find a fisherman who can
provide them some on a weekly basis. An agreement is made between the fishermen and
higglers that they will always provide the higglers with their catch and the higglers must buy it.
They decide together how often the higglers will receive the catch and what they will pay. On
the days they agree upon, the higglers must buy all of the shrimp that the fishermen have
caught, whether it is a half pound or ten pounds. In this way, the fishermen are assured of
selling their catch and the higglers are assured of a constant source of shrimp. Oftentimes each
fisherman will have more than one higgler as a customer so that each higgler is provided with
shrimp on a different day. The higglers will have more than one fisherman as a customer so
that they get more shrimp than one fisherman can provide.
Most of the higglers say that without a customer, it is difficult to get shrimp during the good
market times. When fishermen are customers, they are obligated to sell their shrimp to a
particular higgler for a set price, no matter what someone else may offer. In other words, the
higglers are buying insurance during the slow market for a supply of shrimp when the market is
good. According to one higgler, there are "not plenty fishermen, but plenty people selling,"
indicating that competition between sellers to obtain enough shrimp to make a living is high. In
addition to being guaranteed shrimp, customers are beneficial because they grant credit to
higglers. Most fishermen provide shrimp to the higglers and wait two or three days to collect
the money, allowing them to make the money before paying it back. When they can not sell
the shrimp, they must still pay, but with credit they can manage more shrimp and earn money
without a great deal of initial capital.
Exchanges between fishermen and higglers vary as a result of the location of the fishermen and
the number of customers that each has (Table B-2). If fishermen have only one customer, they
will sell their shrimp to the higgler everyday that they check their shrimp pots, unless they
provide shrimp to people who randomly ask for it. With two customers, each higgler would
get shrimp every other day or every four days, depending on the days the fishermen check their
pots If they have three customers and check their pots everyday, they will sell to each
customer every third day. If they only check their pots every other day, they would only sell
to each customer once per week. Even with just one customer, the fishermen are assured of
selling their catch.
Higglers are more dependent on the number of customers they have and sales are far less
reliable. With one customer, higglers will only get shrimp on the days the fisherman grants
them, commonly every three days. If they have two or more customers, they have a number of
options; they may buy from each customer on different days spreading out the product, buy
from them all on the same day, or buy from each on a set day such as Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Buying on set days occurs more often with customers from other communities. Multiple
customers assures the higglers of more shrimp, but forces them into selling higher amounts
unless they have the ability to store the shrimp in a refrigerator.
Because the number of customers the higglers have is vital to sales, they have to carefully
strategize as to how many they will make arrangements with. The most important factor in
deciding how many customers to have is the amount of money the higgler can afford to pay for
shrimp. New higglers especially often lack the capital required to pay more than one fishermen
until they have built up enough consumers to maintain the sale of more shrimp. Related to this
factor is the amount of shrimp the higglers can sell. The more shrimp higglers are able to sell
each week, the more customers they need to have. This factor is most important during the
poor market season when sales are down because during holidays they are able to sell
everything they have. A third factor affecting the determination of the number of customers to
maintain is whether the higglers have a refrigerator. Having a refrigerator enables the higglers to
keep larger amounts of shrimp for longer periods of time. Without a refrigerator, the higglers
must cook and sell their product almost immediately, whereas with a refrigerator, they are able
to store part of the shrimp to be cooked at a later date. There are discrepancies as to how long
shrimp can be stored before going bad and some higglers keep the shrimp only one week while
others may keep it for months at a time before cooking it Once the higglers know their average
sales and how much they can afford to pay, they can then decide how many customers to have.
If they have the capital to purchase more shrimp during the poor market, they automatically
increase their ability to make money in the good market because good market seasons assure the
higglers of selling off their products and the more customers they have, the more shrimp they
have to sell.
The amount of money shrimp are bought and sold for varies by season and fishermen (Tables
3, 4, and 5). Higglers pay anywhere from eighty Jamaican dollars to 150 Jamaican dollars for a
pound of shrimp. The cost of shrimp in Slipe and Middle Quarters is eighty dollars when they
are abundant and one-hundred dollars when they are scarce. Women at the square seem to pay
slightly more at 100 and 120 dollars respectively, which is approximate to what women pay
Table B-2 Networks between Higglers and Fishermen, Middle Quarters
1 4 Customers
customers in Black River. The middlewoman who comes into Middle Quarters sells shrimp for
about one-hundred dollars but her prices also increase to 120 dollars when shrimp are scarce.
At times when shrimp are extremely scarce, the price is as high as 150 dollars per pound. The
six fishermen interviewed in Middle Quarters all claim to sell their shrimp for eighty dollars per
pound, but indicate that prices rise every year due to increasing costs for supplies such as traps
Table B-3 Cost of Shrimp
Location Shrimp Abundant Shrimp Scarce
Slipe, MQ J$80 J$100
Square, Black River,
Middlewoman J$100 J$120
Cooked shrimp are mostly sold at four prices. Typically, bags are sold for twenty, fifty, one-
hundred, and 150 Jamaican dollars, with size and amount of shrimp accounting for the different
prices. Smaller bags have smaller, lower quality shrimp, while as prices increase, so does the
size of the bag and the size of the shrimp. According to the number of bags that higglers claim
to get from one pound of shrimp, it was possible to estimate the weight of each bag. The
twenty dollar bags weigh approximately one-eighth of a pound, the fifty dollar bags weigh one-
fourth of a pound, the one hundred dollar bags weigh one-third of a pound, and the 150 dollar
bags weigh one-half pound. Occasionally, higglers may sell shrimp by the pound for anywhere
between 200 and 400 Jamaican dollars, depending on the higgler. Those higglers furthest away
from the square tend to sell shrimp for lower prices than the rest of the women (100 dollar bags
for fifty or sixty dollars), probably because sales are much lower in this area. When the higglers
are unable to sell their shrimp, they must pay the fishermen out of their own pockets.
Table B-4 Prices of Shrimp
Size of Bag in Inches Price and Oualitv
According to the older women, the market is worse now than in past years due to the increase
in the number of higglers, as well as to the increase in both costs and prices. Some say there are
more women selling shrimp now than there are people willing to buy the shrimp. When asked
3 x 7 partially full J$20 poor 1/8 lb.
3 x 7 full J$50 mid 1/4 lb.
4 x 7 partially full J$100 good 1/3 lb.
4 x 7 full J$150 very good 1/2 lb.
_____________________very good 1/lb
why the number of consumers has not increased with the number of higglers, many of the
women argue that high prices keep people from purchasing shrimp. It is also possible that
health concerns have affected the sales of shrimp. It was mentioned that there have been cases
of consumers becoming ill from eating bad shrimp, and knowledge of the health risks involved
in eating shrimp may keep many consumers from purchasing them. Higglers are not bitter
about the increases in the numbers of higglers because they say that young people have no
other options. Costs have increased exponentially over the past twenty years (from twenty-
five cents to eighty dollars per pound), and sales have gone from fifty cents to one-hundred
dollars. One woman who is no longer selling shrimp claims that just five years ago, a one-
hundred dollar bag of shrimp sold for just ten dollars. Because of these increases, fewer people
are willing to buy the shrimp, and it becomes more difficult for the higglers to earn a living.
Although the occupations of higgling and fishing are both intricately linked with the natural
environment and especially the Lower Black River Morass, the people do not seem to be
especially concerned with threats of degradation or attempts to preserve its natural resources.
Even more alarming is the fact that many of the higglers do not even recognize the connection
between the existence of the morass and their occupations. When asked about the types of
activities and uses of the morass, water use, farming, fishing, animal grazing, and thatch
collection are the only things mentioned. Fishermen add timber collection and peat mining as
additional uses, but the awareness of its impact on the community appears to be absent. The
higgler households personal use of the morass are restricted to water collection, animal grazing,
farming, fishing, thatch collection, and indirectly through purchasing shrimp.
The majority of the higglers and fishermen consider the morass to be important for the
maintenance of their households because of the shrimp, the land for farming, the resources such
as fish, thatch, and timber, and the medicinal resources. While only three of the twenty higglers
feel that the morass is not important to their families, a full 35% do not ever go into the morass
for any reason. Reasons given for avoiding the morass include the presence of crocodiles, the
"dirty water," and lack of need to go there for any reason. Most of the higglers and fishermen
feel that there are enough materials in the morass for everyone, regardless of the extent of use.
Although they recognize that sales have decreased due to an increase in the number of higglers,
they do not feel that the increase in higglers has led to a decrease in the availability of shrimp.
Only two of the fishermen and one of the higglers argue that the actual amount of shrimp has
decreased in recent years.
The only complaints about the morass are that the rivers and waterways are no longer cleaned
by the government. According to several people, the government hired people in the past to
clean the rivers by removing the water lilies and overgrowth of vegetation but have since
stopped doing so. There are two people who suggest that the morass be drained to make room
for more houses and farm land. The lack of awareness of the environmental threats to the
morass and its resources puts the livelihoods of both fishermen and higglers in jeopardy.
Without knowledge that the resources in the morass are finite and must be managed properly,
the people who rely most on the morass become one of the biggest threats to its maintenance.
Their own actions will continue to threaten the future of their occupations unless they begin
making a conscious effort to preserve the morass.
There are a variety of ways in which higglers lives and livelihoods could be improved. Some are
more realistic, while some are feasible only through changes in the economic situation. There
are very few formal sector jobs available in the area, and lack of formal credit to most poor
people, especially women, limits the opportunity for other types of self-employment.
Attention given to women without education or collateral for formal credit would enable many
women to expand their income earning opportunities beyond the sale of shrimp. For instance,
with small loans, many women might open small shops or kiosks and sell a variety of foods
and drinks. Others might go into other businesses or market more unique and individualized
products to reduce competition and increase their profit margin.
Simple marketing techniques could improve the shrimp higgling trade. Many of the women
interviewed do very little to market their product other than sitting along the side of the
highway. Some hold up bags of shrimp, some yell "crayfish" or "swims," and those at the
square rush to every car and out of town bus that stops. There are those, however, who do
none of these things and sometimes pay very little attention to the potential buyers driving by.
Middle Quarters contains a tourist area called YS Falls that draws tourist buses through the
area on a daily basis. Throughout the research, not one tour bus stopped, and only one
foreigner was seen buying shrimp. The higglers claim that everyone driving by knows about
their product, and tour buses do not stop because the drivers do not want to, but some
marketing techniques might help to improve sales. Those higglers along the highway could
increase their advertising with large signs drawing independent tourists to try the product.
Apparently sales are high enough during holiday seasons, but attracting tourists may be a way
to increase sales throughout the year.
Another possible idea is the concept of a cooperative group working in conjunction with a
shrimp farm. One way to keep the trade from becoming saturated with sellers who outnumber
the amount of shrimp is to increase the shrimp catch. The idea of a shrimp farm might provide
employment for local people and would increase the amount of shrimp available. Along with
increasing the supply would be a cooperative group working together to buy, market, and sell
the product. It might provide higher profit through lower overhead costs and could decrease
the amount of time required of each person to earn an income. The trade is such now that
during most of the year higglers may spend up to twelve hours per day sitting along the
highway. With a coop, shift work could be an alternative to such long hours. With the
cooperation of a larger group of women, it might be possible to begin marketing the product on
a larger scale throughout the country. Implementing this type of project would first require a
variety of considerations. A shrimp farm might displace fishermen who are dependent on
fishing to support their households. Some higglers might be left out in a cooperative situation,
and the level of independence might decrease for those higglers not in decision making
positions. Even when considering the potential problems, there are some possibilities for
improving the trade of shrimp higgling that would enable more women to enter the business
without destroying it along the way.
The reasons that women choose to sell shrimp are clear. Because of the lack of opportunities
for formal employment in the parish of St. Elizabeth, women who are responsible for the
economic well-being of their families must find their own means of income. Especially for
women who are poor and uneducated, self-employment is often the only option for providing
for one's family. In addition, those few other jobs available such as domestic work are often
outside of St. Elizabeth, pay very little, and encompass working for others who are often
abusive and overdemanding. Shrimp higgling has been an occupation in the Middle Quarters
area for over fifty years. It is accessible to women without much initial capital, and allows
them to earn an income without having to go far from home. It can be organized around other
domestic duties, and has been proven to be successful by its longevity and the apparent
success of other past and present higglers. According to the higglers it affords a level of
independence not available in wage labor, and also enables women to provide for themselves
without being dependent on a spouse or conjugal partner.
The increasing number of fishermen and higglers in recent years has threatened the abundance of
freshwater shrimp, the basis for the two occupations. If overuse eventually leads to the
destruction of the two occupations, a very large proportion of the Middle Quarters community
would be facing poverty. Yet most of the higglers and fishermen interviewed do not feel there
are any problems with the morass. In fact, most of the women do not feel that their lives are
directly impacted by the morass, and many claim it to be a nuisance. The lack of recognition
that their occupation is directly related to the morass prevents the higglers from taking
conscious measures to maintain and preserve the morass. Very few of the higglers think that
there is a threat of decreasing shrimp, other than seasonality and rainfall variability. The issue
then arises that shrimp higglers do not take active measures to ensure the continuation and
survival of the occupation that they depend on for daily survival. The impacts of this lack of
concern are guaranteed to have consequences for the future of the occupation.
Shrimp higgling provides a major, often primary economic contribution to the households
involved. All of the women involved indicate that selling shrimp is at least as important as any
other economic activity within the household, and in many cases, the only activity. The
specific economic responsibility of the higglers in relation to the rest of the household varies,
but is considerable in each of them. Throughout the research, it became apparent that the
higglers use their income largely to pay for the education of their children. In female headed
households, the higglers are responsible for all costs incurred and pay for them largely with the
money earned by selling shrimp. The sale of shrimp often enables households to improve their
living conditions with new houses and appliances, as well as improving the opportunities for
their children's future by affording school fees. In this way, many of the higglers' children have
a better opportunity of moving out of their current social.standing by getting more education
and better jobs. Although this often requires leaving the community, it seems to be a desired
goal for young people to move to the more urban areas. At the very least shrimp higgling
provides income to support the household, and can lead to the improvement of lifestyle for an
ENVIRONMENTAL ATTITUDES OF COMMUNITY LEADERS IN BLACK RIVER
Doctoral Student, Department of Anthropology
University of Florida, Gainesville Florida
The target area of the research is the Lower Black River Morass located on the southwest
coast of Jamaica. This investigation focuses on environmental issues in the Lower Black
River Morass and is situated primarily in Black River, capital of St. Elizabeth Parish;
additional research was conducted in Kingston. This report is concerned with the
perspectives of business owners, and community leaders in Black River, as well as national
and local government officials, and a national environmental non-governmental organization
(ENGO) representative. It is part of a larger project "Human Activities and Environmental
Contaminants in the Lower Black River Morass."
A key issue now being discussed in Black River is the proposed designation of the morass as
a national park. The Jamaican national park movement is a reflection of a world wide trend.
These parks are being established
...not just to protect natural (and cultural) resources, but because it is recognized that
conservation may be a means of creating a tourist attraction. This is particularly true
in Third World countries which are increasingly using tourism as a vehicle of economic
development" (Olwig 1980: 23).
A rating system for national park site selection was devised by Thorsell (1981). Based upon
his criteria (rated on biophysical and socioeconomic factors), the Lower Black River Morass
is rated as a superior site to the Negril Great Morass or Canoe Valley sites because of its
diverse flora and fauna, traditional crafts, and navigable waterways (Bacon 1987).
Environment and Economics
With an unemployment rate of approximately 40% in Black River (UDC 1990), the stimulus
of new revenues from tourism, directly or indirectly resulting from establishment of a national
park, are attractive on the surface. However, if the expansion is not managed properly, the
results could be disastrous for the town of Black River and the morass. Environmental
protection efforts should be designed to provide alternatives to current modes of production
which will allow for preservation of the environment while affording the people a viable
means of livelihood. Generation of new local employment opportunities should not rely
solely upon private investment; "decisions that drive private capital are not decisions that
have much to do with social justice" (UDC 1990: i). Nor do these investment decisions often
have much to do with environmental preservation, as the history of development in Ocho
Rios and Negril will testify.
Programs aimed at environmental protection have been problematic for they have failed to
directly involve the various categories of people who utilize these systems (Eyre 1991). This
situation has reportedly caused major problems for the Blue Mountain and John Crow parks.
There has been no "comprehensive plan for sustained resource use and environmental
management of a credible programme of environmental education at any level" (Eyre
1989:17). Environmental education is key to protection of natural resources in this region.
Strategic planning by environmentally-aware persons is vital to the improvement of the
quality of life, as well as to long-term development perspectives. Several people interviewed
for this project stress the need for materials to be "visually focused," rather than in print form
in order to reach a population which, according to the local librarian, is not very literate. The
low level of education was confirmed in a 1990 study conducted by the Urban Development
Corporation of Jamaica: "About 75% of household heads have not completed secondary
education" (UDC 1990:5). The report further states that if current trends continue, "about
78% of students now in primary school will never reach the secondary level" (ibid.:5).
Considering the desire to stimulate economic development via tourism and other enterprises
in the Lower Black River Morass area, and the concern about environmental degradation,
widespread public awareness of environmental issues is critical to the success of conservation
efforts. With the educational situation as it is, alternative strategies must be devised to reach
the target population because "in regard to the environment, ignorance is not bliss, it is
suicide" (Eyre 1989:36).
The hypothesis of this study is that the attitudes of business owners, tourist attraction
owners and government officials will reflect their desire for increased conservation efforts,
provided these do not interfere with economic growth through expanded development.
Profit-making and vote garnering are more significant to them than the environment
Data was collected through the ethnographic methods of observation and interviews. The
sample was delimited to business owners, a national ENGO representative and governmental
officials. The interviews were conducted primarily at the informants' places of business and
in their homes. Secondary data on current and proposed enterprise development,
conservation or degradation patterns and potential intervention programs for better natural
resource management were collected from various sources. Meetings were attended of the
Rotary Club and the St. Elizabeth Parish Council.
The cultural frameworks for these informants are similar in that they are all members of the
middle or upper class in terms of socio-economic status, and are involved in the
environmental movement in some capacity. They can be grouped into the following
Government officials/representatives (4): Mayor, NRCA, SPML, Env.
Community leaders (3): Two retired, but active; librarian
Local business owners (7): Boat tours, markets, rum mfg., misc. shops
Representative from a national ENGO (1): NEST
A total of fifteen people were interviewed. Thirteen informants are from the Black River
community; ten of these are members of BREPA. The other two informants are involved
with environmental issues on the national level (NRCA, NEST). Key interview questions
were concerned with the following:
1. Environmental preservation: their personal and professional agendas
2. Their "vision" for the Black River community
3. Designating the area as a national park
4. Environmental education
The results of the research (table 1) show that eighty-seven percent of the informants are in
favor of environmental preservation; sixty-seven percent agree with the national park
designation; and ninety-three percent favor environmental education efforts. These are
substantially greater percentages than expected, based upon the hypothesis. There are
significant in-group differences of opinion among those interviewed. However, most
recognize the value of preserving the environment and the folly of ill-planned development
which could destroy future prospects for tourism and revitalization of Black River.
All BREPA members express the desire to promote legislation in favor of environmental
preservation. The mayor acknowledges the lack of initiative on the part of the St. Elizabeth
Parish Council to enact legislation, but places some of the blame for this on the lack of
funding from the central government caused by non-implementation of the "Reform of Local
The environmental warden, who works under the auspices of the NRCA, complains that lack
of authority and an over-abundance of bureaucracy are hinderances to the effective
performance of his duties.
While many of those interviewed in Black River agree that there is still much to be done, most
point to the central government as the source of remediation. No strong sense of
responsibility appears to exist at the local level. The findings in a report from the Urban
Development Corporation concur:
Seventy-seven percent of the households had no member in a community organisation
As to who should meet the identified needs, the government, including the MP
(Minister of Parliament), was seen by a clear majority of persons as responsible.
Next in line was the private sector. For every level of need, however, the
community itself was seen by less than 1% of respondents as having the ability
to deal with it (1990: 16, 18).
The Parish Council has over the past several years discussed and acted upon a limited number
of environmental issues affecting St. Elizabeth Parish, but their follow-up has been
inadequate; essentially no environmental legislation has been enacted and/or enforced which
goes directly toward alleviating problems in the Lower Black River Morass area.
BREPA members desire an increase in development (tourism and other industries) as a way
to promote Black River and to provide new employment opportunities. However, this desire
is tempered by concern that the development be planned carefully so as to prevent repetition
of the environmental degradation experienced in Ocho Rios and Negril. Several Black River
informants express the strong desire to preserve the quaintness and charm of their town, one
of the oldest in Jamaica.
Listed below in order of importance are the primary environmental concerns expressed by the
informants in the Black River community:
1. Regulations for the Black River boat licensing, control of river usage by
fisherfolk and land owners
2. Environmental Education for all, but especially for the young children
3. Waste Management improved pick-up and disposal of trash; alternatives for
4. Leasing/sale of land in the Morass to private investors who displace
people currently using the area for a livelihood
5. Expert consultants to advise local residents of the best ways to plan for
development which will bring prosperity without degradation
Changing some traditional cultural practices of the community (e.g., trash burning and
dumping; abandonment of metal fish traps in the river) is also seen as a significant issue. If
people can be provided with viable alternatives to their traditional practices (via
environmental education efforts), great strides can be made toward environmental
preservation and conservation.
The special constraints on some business owners make them rather ambivalent toward
environmental preservation. While they expressly value ecologically sound practices, they
are also very concerned with improving their bottom-lines via the growth of tourism.
Interestingly, the analysis reveals that those people who currently reside in Black River or
who grew up there are significantly more concerned with the future of the Black River
community, not just future profits.
Eight of the thirteen Black River community members are strongly in favor of the national
park designation; two others express reservations, and three are opposed. As expected, the
ENGO representative and the central government official are in favor of the park.
The data gathered in this very limited sample are revealing. The attitudes of those in
positions of power who can effect change in the current situation are indeed complex. The
dynamic interaction of people and the environment should be viewed holistically; in the
context of the entire community and the historic lack of action by the Jamaican government.
Some generalizations can be made from the data obtained in these interviews:
1. Those persons in businesses which would be directly affected by environmental
regulations i.e., tourism, and manufacturing, are against or have reservations
about the national park designation;
2. Other business owners are in favor of the national park designation, believing
that this will provide more protection for the environment as well as increase
3. There is a widespread support for environmental education (93%);
4. The "buck" is continually passed between the local and national governmental
officials with regard to responsibility for regulatory action. Local officials who are
closer to the problems can offer important insights and develop specific remedies
which can then be approved at the national level. The central government must
provide critical leadership in this process by enacting national environmental
legislation and by supporting local governmental initiatives;
5. The issues are indeed complex as we view them from the various perspectives
of those involved in the Black River community. Judgements about what is right for
whom should be made cautiously and critically.
Commitments were made by the director of the NRCA to involve the local community in
decision-making regarding the national park slated to be established in Black River and
vicinity (personal interview). He recognizes the importance of having the community "buy-
in" to the project. Including them in the planning process should promote feelings of
ownership, responsibility, and authority in the Black River community, a vital component of
the park's success. This viewpoint is also expressed by the Minister of the Environment
(speech at a Kingston workshop).
While it is true that human and environmental needs are not always compatible, the
cooperative efforts of the local residents (business owners, workers, unemployed, children,
and adults alike) and the government in planning and management can allow Black River to
become a testament to successful environmental and human preservation.
Lower Black River Morass Interviews
Category Are you a Are you more Do you favor Do you
BREPA Concerned a national support
n-15 member? about park environment
preservation designation education
of the for the efforts?
Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes No
Central 1 1 1 1
Local 3 3 3 3
leaders: n-3 3 3 2 1* 3
Retail Shops (3) 1 2 3 2 1 3
Tourism (3) 3 2 1 1 1* 1 2 1
Manufact'ng (1) 1 1 1 1
Nat'l ENGO: n= 1 1 1 1
TOTALS Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes No
10 5 13 2 10 2* 3 14 1
PERCENTAGE % 67 33 87 13 67 13 20 93 7
* Expressed reservations; did not give a definitive answer yes or no.
Bacon, P.R. 1987 Use of Wetlands for Tourism in the Insular Caribbean. Annals of Tourism
Research. 14: 104-117.
Eyre, L. A. 1991 Jamaica's Crisis in Forestry and Watershed Development. Jamaica
Naturalist, 1 (1): 27-34.
1989 The Caribbean Environment: Trends toward Degradation and Strategies for
their Reversal. Caribbean Journal ofEducatio, 16 (1 & 2): 13-45.
Olwig, K.F. 1980 National Parks, Tourism, and Local Development: A West Indian Case.
Journalfor the Society for Applied Anthropology, 39 (1): 22-31. Spring.
Thorsell J.W.1981 Towards a National Park System for Jamaica. Bridgetown, Barbados:
Caribbean Conservation Association. In Bacon, P.R. 1987. Use of Wetlands
for Tourism in the Insular Caribbean. Annals of Tourism Research.
Urban Development Corporation (UDC) 1990 South-West Coast Development Plan: Socio-
Economic Survey. Research Unit.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LIMESTONE ISLANDS AND MIDDLE QUARTERS
Graduate Student, University of the West Indies,
The Limestone Islands
The Limestone Islands consist of Slipe, Frenchman, Cataboo and Punches, the entire area
is known as Slipe with the others being sub-districts within Slipe. This is the central area of
the morass and the community is largely built on limestone.
More than 70% of the main road from Lacovia through to Salt Spring is actually
'reclaimed land' as evidenced by the proximity of the morass to both sides of the road. In
addition, the road is on a similar level as the surrounding morass and there may not be
more than a dozen or so culverts along the main road in Slipe and other feeder roads.
Consequently when there is sustained rain, the roads become flooded.
Frenchman seems to be the most developed community and the one that is more open to
outside influences. It has a beauty shop and a community centre unlike the others. The
latter seems to have been the result of community effort. The shops also sell a wider
variety of goods than those in the other communities. In addition there are more feeder
'roads' and narrow tracks.
In all there are approximately 272 houses in the Islands, with more than 60% falling in the
lowest wealth category. Cataboo seems to the most balanced community in terms of wealth
levels. There are over two dozen shops selling liquor, grocery, snacks or a combination of
these items and, one school and five churches.
Too little or too much rain has adverse effects for the residents of this area. Many people in
the areas have cattle, especially cows. It is not uncommon for farmers with more than a
score of cows to have two perish each year as a result of inadequate water. The older an
animal is the higher the possibility of it succumbing to the drought. Sometimes animals
get stuck in the bog and perish while others are sometimes washed away by the heavy
Motor-bikes are the major mode of transportation, and Frenchman seems to have more of
them. In addition Frenchman has more foot paths and tracks wide enough to
accommodate cars. In fact, the cars that ply the area as taxis more often than not stop at
Frenchman rather than terminating at Punches. In Frenchman, young men plait and tie
their hair and also dress more lavishly and according to current fads than in the other
communities. Women from all four districts are comparatively well dressed.
Farming for food crops is not practised on a wide scale. Some people from the area say that
the soil is not suitable for large scale agriculture; others say that ganja offers a more
attractive alternative. Subsistence agriculture is practised however, but not on a large scale.
Some persons, especially in Frenchman, plant crops in the wet areas of their yards. There is
also some amount of agriculture in larger morass areas. This is especially so in Frenchman
where red peas, cucumber, tomato ("plummy"), table tomato ("salad"), and dasheen are
planted. So inadequate is farming here, that food trucks comes every Thursday and Friday
and a large percentage of the population buys from them or go to the nearby major towns
to purchase provisions.
The overwhelming majority of households interviewed report fishing and/or shrimping
activity, that includes the actual fishing and or shrimping; preparation and sale of the
finished products. None of the women or men sold in the parish but 'migrated' to
Kingston, while others went to Westmoreland or Manchester for up to four days at a time.
The primary source of fish/shrimp are the rivers at Punches and Frenchman.
Other uses of the morass
Many persons reported use of fuelwood as their only source for cooking, but not many
reported to take wood from the morass but from woodland. Collections seems to be a task
that any one could do and is not confined to age or gender. Few persons could estimate
how long it took them to collect fuelwood, but those who could estimated it to be about
two hours per time.
The persons who reported working with thatch for basket production generally buy the
material from someone who has access to the trees or owns land on which it is grown.
Thatch stands are generally fenced off on private lands.
Attitudes about the Morass
Most persons both in the Limestone Islands and Middle Quarters recognize the morass as
being a useful source of livelihood. Of note is their response to the question of the
availability of resources over time. Some people thought it was easier to collect firewood
because more people had gas stoves. Others attributed the scarcity to population growth.
While most persons were not sure if there were more birds now, the general consensus
was that there were more crocodiles at which some were annoyed.
A striking percpetion in both areas, especially the Limestone Islands is that the
government should do specific tasks such as road maintenance, infrastructural
development, and river cleaning. People are not about to do these communal tasks even
though they may benefits from doing them especially during the rainy season.
Middle Quarters is situated to the north of the Lower Black River Morass. The land in this
area slopes upwards from the morass, with the main road being on a similar altitude to the
morass. When there is heavy rainfall, flooding occurs from the area at New Holland in the
east, and the district's square in the west. After a heavy rainfall it is not uncommon for
water to be on the road for up to three days.
As in the other places under study, and indeed all of the island, limestone is the
predominant rock type. There are visible outcroppings especially on the hills along the
main road. It is also possible to see land erosion at these times as well. Because of the
predominance of the morass on the southern side of the road, fewer houses have been
Middle Quarters has nine sub-districts containing about 350 houses. The research however
focused on the districts of Point, Puckre Church, French Cotton, Delligent, Star Apple Tree
Road, Craigie Road and School House. The largest concentration of people, in terms of the
sheer number of houses is the main road. Homes range from one-room rough lumber to
large concrete and steel structures with three to four bedroom houses. Point seems to be
the most 'balanced' in terms of income spread. Most residents would be classified in low
and medium wealth levels, however there were many houses under construction that
might be classified in the highest wealth. In fact, this area registered the highest in terms of
new construction in the Middle Quarters. However, most of the persons in this district
seems to belong in the lower socio-economic status, judging by the types of houses
predominant in this neighbourhood.
Another striking feature of Middle Quarters, especially on Star Apple Tree Road and Point
are the existence of water tanks that are a major source of supply for the owners, and also
serve as a reserve source to neighbours in times of water shortages or lock-offs.
With the exception of the main road, where pools and large areas of wetland exist
especially on the south side, there is no presence of morass in the interior. Some persons
reported crop cultivation in the morass. Crops planted here include red peas, cucumbers,
dasheen and rice (albeit on a very limited scale).
A number of persons, especially along the main road, report the existence of a garden.
There was not much report of the use of fertilizers. The main reason cited was that the
food was used for subsistence. These crops include callaloo, tomatoes, yams, pumpkins,
cow peas, bananas, and corn. Incidentally, corn seems to be a very popular crop; about ten
or so fields were planted in corn varying from a square to over half an acre. There are also
numerous breadfruit and mango trees.
Most of the houses in Middle Quarters and Limestone Islands are situated on land
measuring more than a lot size i.e., a quarter acre. A few of them are on half acre areas.
Some yards have two or more houses. The exception to this general rule seems to be those
in the Puckre Church area where the land is generally less smaller. Land is largely owned,
with people occupying the land for more than twenty years. A few persons reported living
on family land. Even fewer reported renting or lease arrangements. Agriculture, on the
other hand, when carried out in the morass, was largely on government owned land. Most
persons who planted on dry land planted adjacent to their homes or at a nearby field.
Livelihood Strategies: Farming
Judging from the responses, residents seem to be primarily food farmers, both for
commercial and subsistence purposes with livestock farming being the second
occupational activity; some household are involved in both. The main animals are cows
About 25% of the households report income from a trade. These include dressmaking,
hairdressing, and masonry. Most persons worked in the area or from their homes. A small
minority are also involved in the formal economy of wage earning activity such as
migrant farmworking or trade jobs.
Compared to the Limestone Islands, Middle Quarters fewer residents seem to rely on
fishing and shrimping. The women higglers who sell on the road often buy from
fishermen from Slipe and its environs.
Problems and Constraints
Unemployment (especially among the younger members of the population) coupled with
a lack of skills training seems to be the major sources of frustration and causes for concern
especially for the older generation who see this as the root of criminal activity.
Housebreaking and larceny (especially of livestock) are the most frequent crimes.
Formerly there was large scale rice cultivation in the morass. According to one source, glut
on the local market rendered further production redundant. Another source said that
production ceased when the pump that regulated water flow broke. The latter story is
likely to be more accurate as rice is a major staple in the diet of Jamaicans. Perhaps repairs
to the pump as well as a revolving loan programme would have a multi-dimensional
effect. It would remove excess water from the road and morass in times of flood (thereby
removing much of the stress from residents especially the shrimp sellers whose sales
suffer when traffic is diverted) and provide employment for younger generations and by
extension, lower the crime rate.
HUMAN ACTIVITIES AND THE LOWER BLACK RIVER MORASS:
VINEYARD, ST. ELIZABETH
Ph.D. student, Department of Anthropology
University of Florida, Gainesville Florida
The primary research data collection instrument in Vineyard consisted of the Household
Survey used by the Project in three rural communities; the survey was administered to thirty
randomly selected households in Vineyard. In addition, less structured data collection provided
information people were unwilling to supply under the more formal setting of the survey.
Initially, many Vineyard residents were suspicious of the research, but as they came to
understand the project and know this author, most people became willing to cooperate. This
experience points to some of the real strengths of participant-observation fieldwork; in addition
to establishing a level of familiarity and trust in the researcher among residents, it also allowed
the collection of a great deal of information about uses of the Morass that could not have
collected just using rapid rural appraisals (RRAs) or formal survey instruments. In addition,
living in one community over a period of time allows the researcher to see (as well as to hear)
things critical to the research. For example, there are several different styles of clearing the bush
for pasture -- some farmers carefully preserve economically important trees such as thatch and
sabal palm, while others burn these trees to make room for more cattle. As a general rule,
landowners who live in Vineyard seem less likely to bum trees that their neighbors depend on
than are absentee landlords. This kind of information would be extremely difficult to obtain
through more formal, structured methods of data collection unless the researcher knew in
advance the precise types of questions to ask.
This report describes the natural and social environment of Vineyard and discusses the primary
ways Vineyard residents interact with the Lower Black River Morass. It concludes with several
preliminary suggestions for interventions to enhance the lives of residents while protecting the
Vineyard is located on a small peninsula extending into the southern portion of the Lower
Morass. The landscape is dominated by limestone, outcroppings of which are visible
everywhere. The soils, as a result, are shallow and often are found in small pockets amid the
limestone. The limestone allows easy water penetration in many places, with a very high
groundwater level. In numerous places, there are sinkholes or caves in the limestone, revealing a
water table about 10-15 feet below the surface. This was observed at the peak of this year's dry
season, although people tell me that at times the water disappears from these natural wells
during the dry. Lack of moisture is a (perhaps the) major constraint to agriculture in the area.
Farmers mentioned that the soil is very good if there is adequate water.
Land Use (Dry)
The vast majority of land in the Vineyard area is in pasture. Pasture and almost every other
plot of land is fenced with barbed wire. This wire serves to keep cattle in and out (many people
who do not have land allow their cattle free-range), but is probably even more related, according
to locals, to a desire to establish clear property boundaries. Much of the pasture land is owned
by people who do not live in Vineyard. Many pastures have no cattle in them, even if the grass
growth is good. At least some of this is because cattle are often rotated from one pasture to
another, to prevent overgrazing on dry land. One pasture typically has several areas of
limestone outcroppings, thatch trees, mango trees, and several "wetspots" -- small wet-season
or year-round patches of wetland.
Clearing of pasture is the major threat to palm thatch trees, which are reportedly far less
common than in the past. Both small and large cattle raisers destroy thatch and other trees to
increase the grass in their pastures, but larger absentee landowners seem more likely to clear
The residential areas of Vineyard are fairly concentrated, with approximately 120 houses on 4
to 5 miles of paved and gravel roads. Lots are typically an estimated 1/2 to 2 acres, and much of
these lots is not used. Free-ranging cattle wander in and out of unfenced or ungated yards.
There are relatively few gardens, although many houses have fruit trees, especially mango.
Breadfruit, soursop, banana, and coconut are other fruit trees commonly found in yards.
Mango trees can be seen in many yards and pastures in the Vineyard area, and mangoes are
commonly transported to tourist areas of Jamaica for sale. This enterprise is carried out by
both Vineyard residents, if they have a vehicle, or by outsiders who come to the area to
purchase the fruit.
Annual food crop production in Vineyard is concentrated in the areas closest to the morass,
where moisture is readily available in the dry season. The soils also probably have higher
organic matter than upland soils, enhancing moisture and nutrient retention. The vegetative
growth along the roads and paths near the Morass is noticeably more lush than in the more
densely populated, upland parts of Vineyard. Farmers throughout Vineyard, but especially
near the morass, report growing a wide variety of root crops (yam, sweet potato, cassava),
sugar and wild cane, corn, pumpkin, calaloo, and other crops.