Jamaicans are pushing back for the legendary Bob Marley Beach to remain open to the public, and two children of the reggae artist, Ziggy Marley, and his sister Cedella Marley, are adding their voices to the cause.
The Jamaica Beach Birthright Environmental Movement (JABEM) has launched a petition asking the Government of Jamaica to grant Jamaicans access to beaches across the island.
Beaches are public property, but many seaside property owners tend to partition off their lands and attached beaches, thereby limiting or prohibiting access to Jamaicans. One of those beaches in contention is Bob Marley beach, located in Bull Bay, St. Andrew.
According to the petition, Jamaicans have a constitutional right to access beaches which it wants the government to recognize. The petition has gained traction online and has garnered support from two of the Marley children, who share support for the namesake beach to be accessible to natives of the island.
On Friday, Ziggy shared a lengthy post where he shared support for JABEM’s petition and spoke about his own childhood and enjoying the beaches.
“When I was younger we freely had access to most of our local off the beaten path beaches and rivers including Bull bay and Cane river now there is a pressure campaign to privatize more of these local beaches and rivers and deprive Jamaicans and in particular Jamaicans who cannot afford to pay for a day of well needed stress relief and rejuvenation of these natural resources,” Ziggy Marley said.
The “Love Is My Religion” singer continued, “Jamaica is one of the only Islands in the Caribbean that does not guarantee its people GENERAL rights of access to its beaches. There is no GENERAL RIGHT to bathe, fish, or walk along the beach. We always enjoy and encourage visitors to our island and ask them to join us in making sure that Jamaican people today can freely enjoy Jamaican waters like many of us did before. #thereisabetterway #BeachAccessRightsJamaica @jabbemjabbem.”
In the comments, he added, “they are also trying to intimidate, cheat and force locals who have been there since i was a baby from these areas.”
The government has not responded to the petition, which seeks to update the old Beach Act (1956) so Jamaicans can access the beaches but also protect and promote the livelihood of fisherfolk and the beaches from degradation.
Cedella Marley also shared a JABEM poster in support of the movement.
“Jamaican people should be able to freely enjoy Jamaican waters like many of us did before,” she wrote.
The support from the Marleys came following a concerning post from JABEM which said that it was “alarmed by recent events at the Bob Marley Beach,” which is used by Rastafarians as a “spiritual retreat” like Bob Marley did years ago.
As a result, the organization said fisherfolk’s livelihood would be affected, and others, including Rastafarians, risked dispossession if access to the beach is prohibited.