Nesta Anderson, a pig farmer from Ricketts Avenue or Russia in Savanna-La-Mar, Westmoreland, is on a mission to restore St Mary’s Fishing Village, the main source of livelihood for some 100 fisherfolk in the parish.
Anderson, although not a fisherman, over the years has witnessed the deterioration of the beach, from its general upkeep to the natural erosion of the beach.
With the assistance of Project STAR, Anderson and the fisherfolk hope to restore the beach to its former glory.
“I took it upon my head that I’m going to fight for the community. Mostly young guys are doing fishing now. But I see it as a good challenge to help the community,” he said.
So far, Anderson and the fishermen have kept the beach clean over the last three months with regular beach clean-ups. They, however, want more problem areas to be addressed, such as beach erosion, regular collection of waste, bathroom facilities and potable water on the beach.
Semone Griffiths, project officer for Savanna-La-Mar at Project STAR, said that restoring the Mary’s Fishing Village was one of the priority areas that community members in Savanna-La-Mar had identified when Project STAR entered the parish.
“We have been working with the group to develop a strategic plan. They have shared with us their vision for the beach. They want a bathroom facility in place, potable water on the beach, and to be formalised as a fishing cooperative, and we are working with them to achieve these,” she informed.
Griffiths said that one major success was the clean-up of the beach. “Over the last 10 years, they have tried to clean up the beach. But on Labour Day, some 40 fishermen were able to organise a massive beach cleanup, which was very successful,” she said.
The Project STAR officer explained that the National Environment and Planning Agency has been contacted to get assistance and guidance on how the shoreline of the beach can be restored to address the beach erosion.
She informed that Project STAR was working with the fisherfolks to register them as a Friendly Society with the intention of transitioning to a fishing cooperative body.
“We are working with them to establish an executive body and have them formally registered,” explained Griffiths.
Saffrey Brown, project director at Project STAR said that they continue to facilitate activities around building trust, gaining buy-in from local stakeholders and activating quick-wins in the parish.
“These include more than eight community-led activities around increasing access to social services as well as initiatives toward improving the delivery of summer activities for children and residents,” she said.
Other activities supported by Project STAR in the parish include the hosting of its first community sports day competition, which was organised by the community in collaboration with the Social Development Commission and the Jamaica Constabulary Force and targeted youth with the participation of 40 young males.
Project STAR commenced work in Savanna-La-Mar in April of this year.