President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), Professor Gordon Shirley, on November 1, engaged several stakeholders at the Jamaica Conference Centre with a presentation and discussion surrounding the proposed development of the Goat Islands.The proposal made by the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) is for the establishment of a transshipment port and an industrial commercial economic zone on the Goat Islands and on lands north of the Old Harbour Bay area, in St. Catherine, as part of the global logistics hub initiative.Professor Shirley, in putting the need for development in perspective, indicated that the rest of the world is moving in sync with the expansion of the shipping industry, which has seen ports along the east coast of the United States expanding, such as Miami, which recently added four new cranes.He emphasised that Jamaica must capitalize on its unique position of having the most favourable location in the region, particularly with the impending expansion of the Panama Canal. “We must deepen our channel to stay in the game or the shipping lines will go away,” Professor Shirley warned.The President expressed the need to ensure that the ports operate at world class levels. “We have to move in a direction of adding greater value to the cargo which comes to Jamaica and at the moment this is the single largest opportunity to do so,” he added.Professor Shirley also mentioned the impending privatization of the Kingston Container Terminal under a concessionary arrangement which would span 35 years, noting that there are three pre-qualified players in the tender process. They are CMACGM China Merchant Marine, Singapore Port Authority and Dubai Port World. The process should be completed by mid 2014.A report on an Environmental Management Scoping Survey of the Portland Bight Area, in Clarendon, of which the Goat Islands are a part, was shared by Professor Shirley. It was undertaken on behalf of the PAJ by Conrad Douglas and Associates Ltd.The survey was intended to assess and monitor the proposed project area, undertake detailed environmental and feasibility studies and offer guidance to the Chinese investors about the required development processes and approvals, which must be followed.The President, who was in his first day on the job, made it clear that the Environmental Management Scoping Study was in no way intended to replace an Environmental Impact Assessment, which would be undertaken after a Framework Agreement had been done and the project submitted to Cabinet for approval.Professor Shirley said the proposed development is important to Jamaica, not just for employment creation, but also for development of the maritime sector.Stakeholders included residents of Old Harbour Bay, members of academia, environmentalists and representatives of the private sector.A summary of the key points of the Environmental Management Scoping Study report can be viewed on the PAJ’s website at: www.portjam.com. Professor Shirley says Jamaica must capitalize on its unique position in the region. Story Highlights Professor Shirley said the proposed development is important to Jamaica for development of the maritime sector. PAJ indicated that the rest of the world is moving in sync with the expansion of the shipping industry.