I wish to respond to respond to:
Title: Providing public access to the beach
Author: T. Alphonse, B. Conrich, B. Potter, T. Rongo, F. Zaandam
Date: Tuesday, 7 January 2003

Island beaches are a 'sustainable resource' that require thoughtful management just as any other sustainable resource. We have 'timber management' for forests, 'fisheries management' for seafood, 'wildlife management' for native fauna & flora, - all for the purpose of protecting against over-exploitation of a natural resource that belongs to (at the very least) all citizens of the respective locality. Governmental protection/management agencies monitor the health of the resource and make regulations that allow continued usage of the resources without degradation or exclusion. The idea is to achieve balance of needs, rights, and benefits of all parties involved without allowing any activity that would harm the renewability of the resource.

I have lived on islands in the Caribbean (8 years), in Micronesia (3 years), and now live on a 'barrier island' (3 years) in Florida. So I am familiar with island issues (small islands and big - small issues and big) as well as having an extensive background in renewable resources and those issues. The problem here is complex, because people have conflicting emotional and economic motivations (within and between opposing groups). But with people on both sides of an issue being able to recognize the primary need to protect and share such resources (i.e. beaches), then regulations can be developed in an open environment that everyone can live with. An open environment allows enough time and encourages the free exchange of information and knowledge needed to become informed about options and to show reasonable (as opposed to reactionary) support for the right decisions.

Put in the simplest terms: the beaches must be (1) protected from abuse, (2) shared by all, (3) regulated by laws promulgated by both the citizens and government working together. This reminds me of the story of King Solomon settling the feud between two women claiming to be the mother of the same child. When neither would relent their claim to the child he declared the child would be split in two by a sharp sword so the women could share equally. Preservation of the child motivated the true mother to give up her claim - and of course that was the most important part of the issue. Preservation of the beach should be the most important motivation behind any regulations that govern who uses the beach and how. Those who best understand the issue of 'preservation of a sustainable resource' will make the wisest choices - just like King Solomon.

Best regards;
Brian R. Mommsen
Ecotourism Consultant