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Where is the Pedro Cays in Jamaica?

Where is the Pedro Cays in Jamaica? || Answered by Aneisha Dobson, Associate Writer

When I think about my country Jamaica, my mind often drift off to the sandy beaches of Negril Beach, the nightlife on the Montego Bay Hip strip, and the corporate style of uptown Kingston.

Simply put, we think about the island itself and all it has to offer.

But, are you aware that the country of Jamaica is not just an island?

In truth, Jamaica is the main landmass in a twenty-eight island archipelago!

But how is that possible?

According to the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Act (1991) and the Maritime Areas Act (1996), an imaginary boundary known as the archipelagic baseline, extends 200 miles outward from land, all of which belong to the country.

The Pedro Cays is one of the many islands caught in Jamaica’s imaginary boundary.

But, where exactly is it located?

Where Is Pedro Cays

The Pedro Cays can be found on the south coast of Jamaica. It is 97 km southwest of Portland Point and 161 km in distance from Kingston.

According to the Morant and Pedro Cays Act, the Pedro Cays form a part of the parish of Kingston.

The Pedro Cays comprises of four cays:

  1. Northeast Cay,
  2. Middle Cay,
  3. Southwest Cay and
  4. South Cay

Southwest Cay is the largest of the four. The cays are described as small and low-lying and lacks developed infrastructure.

As a result, they are not ideal for residence to permanently inhabit. However, it is known for fishermen to visit the cays to fish.

Another feature of the cays that should be mentioned is Pedro Bank.

The Pedro Bank is a large bank of sand and coral that slopes from the cays to the west and north. Due to its shallow reefs, rocks and shoals, the Pedro Bank has the shape of a snake. As a result, the Spanish original named it “La Vibora” (The Viper).

The Pedro Cays also house a lighthouse which can be found on the Northeast Cay.

While the cays may not be a popular tourist attraction, it holds an important role in the fishing industry and serves as a breeding sight for marine animals and sea birds.

The Pedro Cays Economic Contribution

  • Fishing Industry

    Since the 1920’s the Pedro Cays and Bank serves as Jamaica’s main commercial and artisanal grounds.

    Fishermen would operate from the Pedro Bank and utilizes the cays as a base. Northeast Cay and Middle Cay are mainly inhabited.

    A visit to these cays reveals tiny fishing communities with boats of fishermen seen along the seaside.

    The Pedro bank also serves as a primary harvesting area of Queen Conch.

  • Animal Breeding Site

    The cays are home to many species of animals.
    Endangered turtle species, like the Hawksbills and Loggerheads, are known to nest on the shores of the beach.

    The cays are also a nesting spot for seabirds.
    Some of these seabirds are:
    • Barn Swallow
    • Palm Warbler
    • Royal Tern
    • Laughing Gull
    • Masked Booby

  • Human Inhabitation

    As stated before, the cays have been visited and semi permanently inhabited by individuals who earn their livelihood through fishing.

    However, the cays do not have adequate sanitary facilities for residence. In a 2012 Jamaican Observer article entitled “The women of Pedro Cays”, interviewees expressed the difficulty and challenges they face living on the Pedro Cays.

    A lack of running water, improper garbage disposal, lack of proper toilet facilities and rodents and insect infestation has made living on the cays difficult.

    However, the Government has made interventions to improve the infrastructure and facilities on the cays to make it suitable for the inhabitants.

    In 2017 former Minister of Agriculture Karl Samuda toured the cays and made commitment to improve the solid and human waste issues that are affecting those who visit the cays.

    Usually, the ministry spend $10 million annually for removal of solid waste. Now, an excess of $20 million will be allocated to tackle the human waste issues on the Pedro Cays.

    Remember knowledge is power, so share your new found knowledge of the Pedro Cays with a friend.

    Until next time…

    • Pedro Cays and Bank. (n.d.). Retrieved from BirdLife:
    • Pedro Cays Lighthouse. (n.d.). Retrieved from Revolvy Brain:
    • RJR News. (2017, October 21). Agriculture Ministry to improve conditions on Pedro Cays. Retrieved from RJR News:
    • Scott, S. (2017, April 28). The United Islands of Jamaica: the ones you probably never heard of. Retrieved from Loop Jamaica:
    • Williams-Raynor, P. (2012, September 16). The women of Pedro Cays. Retrieved from Jamaican Observer:

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