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The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has provided US$500,000 in grant financing to The Cropper Foundation in Trinidad and Tobago to implement a pilot programme utilizing underwater sculptures as a unique approach to climate change adaptation in the Buccoo Reef area.
Trinidadian artist Peter Minshall will create two Carnival-themed sculptures, part of a work known as Tobago Water Colours, in the area of Buccoo reef off Tobago, in one component of a programme on adapting to the impacts of climate change.
Buccoo Reef has been damaged by land-based nutrient run-off and years of excess visits from snorkelers and scuba divers.
The IDB-funded project is intended to provide an alternative destination for tourists that will also provide a new source of income for the tourism, cultural and creative industries of the area, while allowing Buccoo Reef to recover.
The programme will include a focus on marketing and financial sustainability for the new attraction. An additional component of the technical assistance grant will finance a study that will explore options to reduce anthropogenic pollution loading on the reef’s ecosystem.
“This may help turn the tide at Buccoo. Reflecting the colours of the reef and the movement of the sea, the installation will also be a celebration of our island and our annual Carnival, which is an ancient tradition,” Minshall said.
The IDB grant is being provided for an implementation period of 24 months and is expected to lead to a larger project entailing installation of the complete band of Carnival sculptures, following evaluation of the outcomes of the pilot programme.
The project is part of the Bank’s support for its borrowing member countries’ efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change, which will require innovative and creative financing and knowledge-based approaches.
Credit: Caribbean 360
Do you remember that groovy 90’s tune by Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton that goes, ““they paved paradise and put up a parking lot…took all the trees and put them in a tree museum and charged the people a dollar and a half to see ‘em.” These words ring very true in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T).
Propulsion toward the world’s generalized version of ‘development’ has seen greater emphasis on the destruction of green spaces and inclination toward skyscrapers and paved roads. This does nothing to help fight climate change. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in particular have at least four natural defences against sea level rise, storm surges, and coastal erosion – coral reefs, seagrass beds, beaches, and our mangrove forests.
We do not need concrete to survive. What we do need is clean oxygen, which is provided by green spaces. Mangroves provide a host of ecosystem services related to climate change adaptation, such as water quality maintenance/pollution control, storm protection, carbon sequestration, and protection against coastal erosion, just to name a few. So why don’t we treat these majestic trees with more respect? Green spaces in our cities are clearly vital for our continuation as a species. However, in Trinidad and Tobago mangroves in particular are disappearing at alarming rates.
According to Rianna Gonzales, National Coordinator of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network- T&T, “for our country, we thrive on the development of the coastlines and this affects our mangroves forests as they are destroyed to make way for ports and tourism-related development. On our western coast, to build one of the four oil and gas companies, mangroves were demolished. This affected beaches and coastal infrastructure which would otherwise protect T&T from some climate change impacts.”
Estimates by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) suggest that cities are responsible for 75% of global carbon emissions, with transport and buildings being among the largest contributor. At the same time, cities are also vulnerable to climate change impacts.In Port-of-Spain, the capital of T&T, mangrove forests have been ruined. Even though two of our major mangrove forests are protected by the RAMSAR Convention, they aren’t necessarily protected by enforced local law.
“We really need to move from the black and white act on the promises we made to the environment. Signatures on paper mean nothing if there is no action,” Gonzales stressed.
Cities are highly concentrated with people, cars, and buildings. They are busy with activities that need a lot of energy and therefore use more fossil fuel compared to rural areas. Many cities in the world such as Tokyo emit the carbon to as much as 62 million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year. Tokyo has more emissions in a year than 37 countries in Africa.
Earlier this year, Paris suffered from haze masking the city’s landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. Only yesterday, Beijing raised a “red alert” warning over smog and the city, from schools to business, has gone on a shutdown to protect its people. However, local government must remember the positive outcomes of long-term engagement strategies for creating and maintaining green spaces in the city. Fossil fuel companies in T&T however, continue to rule at the end of it all.
There are already cities in the world who have started its path to sustainability. Speaking at a side event in COP21 called “Global Covenant of Mayors: Towards carbon neutral and inclusive cities”, Mayor Josefa Errazuris of the city of Providencia, Chile, shared “in order to protect our commune and the sustainability of our territory, we must have efforts to include climate change as part of policies.”
In Trinidad and Tobago, the ‘Ministry of Planning and Development’ is responsible for the environment but the addition of the word ‘Sustainable’ to the title would show dedication to mitigation and adaptation measures to climate change. In a study done by the International Development Bank in 2014, mangrove restoration was identified as a key climate adaptation strategy for T&T, so why are they still being removed from the ecosystems? If climate change adaptation is really a significant for policymakers in T&T then conservation of green spaces in our cities need to be prioritized.
“Climate change, and all of its dire consequences for health, should be at centre-stage, right now, whenever talk turns to the future of human civilizations. After all, that’s what’s at stake.” – Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization
Many Trinbagonians are proud to say that Trinidad and Tobago is one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Is this something to be pleased about?
The title is a reflection of our status as the main exporter of oil and gas in the Caribbean region and the main producer of liquefied natural gas in the Latin America and the Caribbean. We depend heavily on the extraction of hydrocarbons as the main source of income. After all, Trinidad and Tobago is ranked second in the world for its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita, producing an estimated 53 million tonnes of CO2 annually, with 80 per cent coming from the petrochemical and power generation industry. The government needs to find more sources of renewable energy. We emit the most amount of toxic gases into the atmosphere in the Caribbean.
Climate change takes 400,000 lives per year and millions suffer from flooding, diseases, malnourishment, and respiratory problems due to climate change. This is both a threat and an opportunity as it can push countries toward renewable energy. For these reasons, COP21 has seen concern raised by medical professionals regarding the effect climate change has on health. Over 1,700 health organisations are supporting declarations calling on world leaders in Paris to take a serious approach to the escalating climate threats to human health. The demonstration follows a major recent report in The Lancet that warned 50 years of global health improvements could be thrown into reverse by climate change.
From Europe to the Americas and across Asia-Pacific, over 8,200 hospitals and health centers are already walking the talk: divesting their fossil fuel assets, reducing their emissions, and calling for action on climate change. Trinidad and Tobago needs to step up its game. Stop allowing foreign oil and gas companies to infiltrate our economy and reap benefits while the environment suffers. Instead, we must affirm genuine commitment to renewable energy. It simply makes sense, renewable energy is clean energy.
The government’s aim of 10% renewable energy by 2021 is a start but much more needs to be done. We need healthier, more sustainable cities and the most effective way of quickening up the process is for governments at COP21 to make strong commitments on a deadline for a full phase out of fossil fuels, and agreeing to regularly review and increase national ambition to reach that goal.
In Trinidad and Tobago, emphasis needs to be placed on research and development into the feasibility of various sources of renewable energy and implementation needs to occur quickly. Sensitisation of the local citizens is key, as difficulty in transition also comes from the fact that as an oil and gas-producing country, energy costs in Trinidad and Tobago are extremely low. So it should not be surprising that solar, wind, and hydropower energy are catching on in other islands of the Caribbean where electricity is up to six times more expensive than in Trinidad and Tobago.
The world is shifting toward renewable energy, fossil fuels remain in the past. As we look toward development, Trinidad and Tobago should eventually follow the trend set by the rest of the region.
Written by – Dizzanne Billy
Dizzanne Billy, 24, operates in the role of President of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) in Trinidad and Tobago, where she works in the areas of education and public awareness with regard to environment and development issues. She is a climate tracker with Adopt-A-Negotiator and a young advocate for climate change action.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, has lauded the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) for its support of Caribbean entrepreneurs.
“This is a programme that encourages entrepreneurs to come up with solutions. You provide funding, so that they can build a solution which won’t necessarily just solve a problem in Jamaica, or the Caribbean, but which can solve problems globally,” Mr. Robinson said.
The State Minister was speaking at a cocktail reception to highlight the work of the CCIC, held at the Scientific Research Council (SRC), in St. Andrew, on September 16.
The CCIC is a joint project of the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute, World Bank and the SRC. It was designed to identify and support Caribbean entrepreneurs and new ventures that are developing locally appropriate solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Phase One of the project was highly successful, as 11 entrepreneurs were selected as proof of concept winners and awarded grants ranging from US$10,000 to US$50,000, totalling approximately US$425,000. The winners were from Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia and Belize.
The four Jamaican winners are Shirley Lindo, Castor Oil Briquettes; Dr. Kert Edward, Fibre Optic Solar Indoor Lighting; Robert Wright, Pedro Banks Renewable Energy; and Harlo Mayne, for his H2-Flex Hydrogen Hybrid Project.
Meanwhile, the State Minister noted that one of the challenges facing entrepreneurs is the inability to access non-banking financing, such as venture funding.
“There are some developments that are taking place in a positive way in that regard. The Development Bank of Jamaica has an initiative on venture capital, and there are a couple of private angel investor groups that have been established, all of which are positive for the development of innovation and entrepreneurship,” Mr. Robinson said.
He pointed out that the innovations that are a part of the CCIC, fit right into the plans that the Government has in terms of building a sustainable energy policy.
For his part, Executive Director of the SRC, Dr. Cliff Riley, said the CCIC is looking forward to moving on to Phase Two of the project.
“We are looking to see how we can drive entrepreneurship and create a spirit of innovation in Jamaica and in the Caribbean region,” Dr. Riley said.
Phase Two of the project will provide: proof of concept grant funding for new cohorts of entrepreneurs; training (including access to financing, market development and business incubation training); mentoring and networking opportunities; and specific business incubation services.
The project, which is housed at the SRC, caters to the Caribbean Community, including Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Credit: Jamaica Information Service
The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has a new issue of CARDI Review. The new issue is the first of three issues which will appear in the next few months.
The first paper examines the issue of planting densities for hot pepper and arrives at the conclusion that yields could be increased by planting at higher intra-row densities.
The second paper showcases work which is being undertaken to mitigate against the effects of climate change, which already appears to be a factor that farmers have to contend with. Ten sweet potato cultivars and landraces were evaluated during the severe Trinidad dry season of 2014.
There were some clear conclusions as to the most drought tolerant: but results like this will, of course, need to be verified by further evaluations in different geographic environments. They also need to be repeated in other harsh climatic conditions before definite conclusions can be drawn. Nevertheless, much more is now known about the relative performance of the ten cultivars and landraces.
Piloting the integration of Climate Change Adaptation and Coastal Zone Management in Southwest Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is highly vulnerable to the impacts of global climate change; particularly rising temperature, decreased precipitation and sea level rise (SLR). It is anticipated that these changes will have adverse effects on the physical environment and economy. There is therefore a need to reduce the risks associated with the expected impacts of climate change on the country by mainstreaming climate change adaptation into development planning. In December 2012, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago signed a technical cooperation (TC) with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) to undertake a pilot study on integrating climate change adaptation (CCA) into coastal zone management (CZM) in SW Tobago.
The Institute of Marine Affairs is the executing agency. Activities under this project began in April 2013 and are expected to be completed in June 2015. The objective of this TC is to develop an ICZM program that incorporates CCA and disaster risk management using an ecosystem based approach. The lessons learnt from this TC will directly inform the development of the broader national ICZM Policy Strategies and Action Plan. The TC will also lay the foundation for future investments in a coastal risk assessment and management program in Trinidad and Tobago.
Activities completed to date under this TC included the following:
- Gap analysis – review of the legislative, policy and institutional information an capacity arrangements related to CZM and climate change in Trinidad and Tobago.
- Vulnerability and Risk Assessment – the development of climate-related hazard vulnerability and risk assessments of the coastal zone area of Southwest Tobago based on climate variability (existing climatic events) and climate change scenarios.
- Coastal ecosystem-based climate change adaptation response plan – the design and implementation of an adaptation response plan for coastal ecosystems in Southwest Tobago which included the deployment of an coral reef early warning system (CREWS) on Buccoo Reef and enhancement of a long-term water quality monitoring program.
- General guidelines for incorporating an ecosystem based approach to adaptation into a national ICZM Policy – produce guidelines that incorporate CCA into an ICZM Policy, including identification of best management practices for adapting coastal economic activities to risk.
GAP Analysis -The Legislative, Policy and Institutional Arrangement for CCA and ICZM
While Trinidad and Tobago has a National Climate Change Policy (NCCP), it does not specifically address ICZM and CCA on the coast, though it does note the effects of rising sea level and temperature. Research has shown that there is a lack of specific policies to treat with CZM and CCA although various policies address ICZM in a piecemeal and fragmented manner. Moreover, the policies are dated and those that exist are not implemented. In addition, it is important to recognise that ICZM and CC adaptation cannot be dealt with without reference to other policies. In situations where a policy names several organisations with responsibility to implement, the absence of specific provisions on ICZM and CC adaptation can translate into non-action. There is little in existing policies that indicate how the policies are to be used as part of an ICZM plan or for CCA as it relates to the coast. Development plans suffer from a similar lack of specificity as it relates to ICZM and CCA.
There are some 20 pieces of legislation that can potentially address ICZM. The multiplicity of laws and policies impacting on coastal areas gives rise to as much as twenty nine (29) institutions having a defined legal and/or policy role. This creates problems such as overlapping jurisdiction, the independence syndrome, and a lack of proper co-ordination of the work of enforcement and management agencies. Key problems confronting State entities with responsibility for aspects of coastal zone management are the lack of sufficient resources, the most important being financial resources and the presence of little or no public awareness of the importance of coastal areas to the society. Public education programs are limited and sporadic and have generally failed to transform attitudes towards sustainably using coastal areas in Trinidad and Tobago. These problems have led to unsustainable utilization of our coastal resources.
The legal and institutional structure for ICZM must be customised:
- to meet the needs of T&T;
- to the nature of its coastal areas,
- to the institutional and governmental arrangements; and
- to the country’s traditions, cultures and economic conditions of Trinidad and Tobago.
There are accepted principles and characteristics associated with the ICZM concept that focuses on three operational objectives:
- Strengthening sectoral management, for example, through training, legislation, and staffing
- Preserving and protecting the productivity and biological diversity of coastal ecosystems, mainly through prevention of habitat destruction, pollution, and overexploitation
- Promoting rational development and sustainable utilization of coastal resources.
Vulnerability and Risk Assessment
Southwest Tobago is home to an estimated 70% of the population of Tobago. The area houses the majority of development associated with housing, hotels and resorts. The coastal area includes Buccoo Reef and other fringing coral reef formations, which have been identified as invaluable to Tobago’s tourism industry. The viability of SW Tobago can be stated through social, financial and environmental considerations. All of these considerations are dependent on a healthy, productive coastal
environment. Adverse climate changes may thus threaten the sustainability of not only the SW region but all of Tobago.
Halcrow, a CH2M HILL Company, was contracted to undertake a study to develop a vulnerability and risk assessment for South West Tobago based on climate change scenarios. The assessment was used to formulate a Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) which will identify areas that are at risk to erosion and/or permanent or temporary coastal flooding. The results will be applied to better understand the risk of climate change to the region so that educated decisions can be applied at policy and planning levels.
In June 2014, Halcrow facilitated a training workshop with key stakeholders on the methodology being applied to the assessment. The preliminary result of the risk assessment and CVI was presented at the IMA 14th Research Symposium held at the Madgalena Hotel, Tobago in September 2015. This assessment is currently being finalised.
Installation of a Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) at Buccoo Reef
In an effort to monitor and build capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change, a CREWS buoy was deployed on Buccoo Reef, Tobago in November 2013. The customized CREWS buoy, referred to as Winky by fisherfolks and dive operators, is designed to measure, record and transmit key meteorological and water quality measurements. Meteorological sensors that measure air temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, rainfall, photosynthetically available radiation (PAR), ultraviolet radiation (UVR), and specialized oceanographic sensors and site specific sensors are also included.
The data collected is available to scientists and other stakeholders to predict possible threats to the reef environment from climate change impacts and from land-based sources of pollution. The data can be downloaded from the link featured below.
A tide gauge would be installed during the first quarter of 2015 to monitor sea level.
Read more: ICZM Newsletter Issue 3 – January 2015
Energy Policy Consultant at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Joseph Williams, believes the Caribbean must move faster towards greater renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Delivering the feature address at Green Energy Day at the Energy Conference in Port of Spain, Williams said Caribbean countries are not poor in regard to energy. He said in addition to making good economic sense, a green economy paradigm will provide opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.
He called on Trinidad and Tobago to lead the Caribbean into a new age of green energy, changing the way PetroCaribe currently operates. Williams stated that the CDB has opened up many areas of access to assist companies willing to go green.
He stated, “Investing in renewable energy is key. Subsidies have grown over the last few years. CDB is willing to help fund energy efficient projects through things like concessional loans.”
The Policy Consultant outlined a number of areas that still needed to be addressed including the need for policies, a raft of incentives and the lack of capacity in critical areas. He urged all nations to get involved stating, “Renewable energy is not the business of one country, it is the business of all countries.”
Meanwhile, Business Development Manager at Massy Energy, Dr. Dirk Nuber, said the Caribbean must harness more from the sun in the form of solar energy. He went on to say: “Most countries in the Caribbean still depend on fossil fuels. While many countries are good for solar, they are not using it.” He further added that there is great investment in renewable energy and the Caribbean must start adapting to it.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday that the 9th Meeting of Caribbean Labor Ministers has concluded with a commitment to strengthen social dialogue further both at the national and regional levels.
The ILO also said the meeting in Port-of-Spain, the Trinidad and Tobago capital, ended with renewed impetus to focus on creative solutions to the problem of youth unemployment and the greening of the economy.
The presidents and other representatives of the Caribbean Congress of Labor (CCL) and Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC) were also present, along with representatives from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and U.N. Agencies (ECLAC, UNESCO,PAHO/WHO and U.N. RC Office Jamaica), as well as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).
ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, attended the meeting and held bilateral meetings with chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Prime Minister of Bahamas Perry Christie; and the Governor-General of the Bahamas, Dame Marguerite Pindling.
The ILO said Caribbean Labour Ministers at the Meeting called for the systemic institutionalization of national social dialogue processes and culture, which embrace policy areas.
They agreed to support the capacity of social partners to ensure that their interventions to tripartite forums and consultations will add substantive value to the processes, the ILO said.
Given the impact of climate change on the world of work, the ministers called for long-term policy development, so that countries are sufficiently resilient to meet the related challenges.
The ministers called for closer collaboration between the ILO and CARICOM, particularly on youth employment, technical, vocational education and training (TVET), labor market information systems and environmental sustainability.
The ministers said that those countries not-yet signatory to the regional “Free of Child Labor” initiative, should be provided with information to consider becoming a party to it, according to the ILO.
It said that it officially informed the Ministers of Labor about a new regional project with CEC and CCL, with funding from the European Union (EU), aimed at strengthening the capacity of workers’ and employers’ organizations in the framework of the Economic Partnership Agreement.
Delegates examined the state of youth unemployment in the Caribbean region, together with public and private partners and institutions such as the government of the Republic of China, Canada, Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, and the ACS.
In this session, it was proposed that anticipating skills requirements could contribute to reduce skills mismatches, the ILO said.
It was also suggested that colleges and training institutions work closely with social partners in developing work-based learning opportunities, beyond apprenticeships and internship programs and closer to labor market demand.
The ILO said session highlighted the need for strong corporate social responsibilities to link youth to the world of work.
Regional certification to ensure consistency of qualifications and opportunities for free movement of youth, by developing fair and sound immigration policies, were also discussed.
Ryder emphasized the importance of reducing carbon emissions for sustainable economic growth, generating new jobs and skills.
With sessions led by representatives from CCCCC in Belize, and the ILO Green Jobs Program in Geneva, climate change and its impact on the work place was discussed.
With higher temperatures, rises in sea level, and increased hurricane intensity threatening lives, property and livelihoods throughout the region, the need for increased technical and financial support for the development of renewable energy in the Caribbean was raised, the ILO said.
Ryder said that the Caribbean has strong traditions of tripartite social dialogue, and mentioned the good practices and innovative solutions which the Caribbean countries are able to implement and share.
Credit: Caribbean Life News
The Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) has the greatest concentration of plant and animal species in the Atlantic Ocean Basin. Yet these precious, and often irreplaceable, natural resources are disappearing at an astounding rate. The vast majority of all species are threatened by habitat loss or modification in addition to unsustainable practices such as over-fishing, unplanned coastal development and pollution. These same habitats are often the main source of food and income for many coastal communities.
The Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) of the Cartagena Convention, is a regional agreement for biodiversity management and conservation in the Wider Caribbean Region, in existence since 1990. It is managed by the United Nations Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) and it became international law in 2000. It aims to protect critical marine and coastal ecosystems while promoting regional co-operation and sustainable development.
To date, sixteen countries from the region have ratified the Protocol: The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, France (through its Departments of Guadeloupe, Guyane, Martinique, Saint-Barthélémy and Saint-Martin), Grenada, Guyana, The Netherlands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint-Eustatius and Sint Maarten), Panama, Saint-Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, and Venezuela.
Since 2012 SPAW has created a regional network of protected areas (PAs) or key conservation sites listed by the member governments under the Protocol. Under this network these sites benefit from a cooperation programme supported by SPAW, which includes: increased recognition and awareness as places of importance locally, regionally and globally; increased local and national pride resulting in national responsibility to support management; higher visibility with the possible result of increases in employment opportunities and income due to increased tourism marketing of the area; grants and technical assistance provided through SPAW; opportunities for enhancing capacity, management, protection and sustainability; and, opportunities for support of species conservation, pollution control and sustainable finance.
Countries which are party to the Protocol are invited to apply for their protected areas to be so listed using online forms. To be selected, sites must satisfy a rigorous set of ecological as well as cultural and socio-economic criteria. Applications are reviewed by the UN SPAW secretariat as well as by external experts prior to their approval by the Protocol’s scientific committee and it’s biennial Conference of Parties (COP). On 9th December 2014, in Cartagena, Colombia, the Protocol’s Eighth COP approved thirteen new protected areas:
The Regional Natural Park of wetlands between the Rivers León and Suriquí, Colombia
The Saba National Marine Park, the Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Saint Eustatius National Marine Park, the Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Man O War Shoal Marine Park (Sin t Maarten), the Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Reserve “Etang des Salines”, Martinique, France
The Reserve “Versants Nord de la Montagne Pelée, Martinique, France
The Port Honduras Marine Reserve, Belize
La Caleta Submarine Park, Dominican Republic
National Park Jaragua, Dominican Republic
Reserve “Los Haitises”, Dominican Republic
National Park “Sierra de Bahoruco”, Dominican Republic
Tobago Cays Marine Park, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
“Molinière Beauséjour” Marine Protected Area, Grenada
These protected areas vary greatly in description and characteristics. However they all meet the criteria for listing under SPAW. These include ecological value, and cultural and socio-economic benefits. A quick look at two of the areas listed illustrates this.
The Saint Eustatius National Marine Park, established in 1996 in the Eastern Caribbean, is only 27.5 square kilometres in area and extends around the entire island of Saint Eustatius, from the high water line to 30 metre depth contour. It protects a variety of habitats, including pristine coral reefs and 18th century shipwrecks. It includes two no-take zones (reserves) as well as general use zones and designated anchoring zones for large commercial ships. There is high biodiversity in its coral reefs and a wide variety of tropical reef creatures resides in and around these reefs as well, including the commercially important lobster and conch, key predators such as sharks and the endangered Sea Horses. Three species of sea turtles (all of them are endangered or critically endangered species) nest regularly on the island’s Zeelandia Beach – the leatherback, the greenand the hawksbill. Dolphins and large whales regularly visit and can often be heard as they migrate through the Marine Park between January and April. A number of birds live almost exclusively in the open ocean environment, using St Eustatius as a breeding ground or migratory stop over, such as the Audubon’s Shearwater Puffins and Red Billed Tropicbirds.
St Eustatius is also site of Statia Terminals, an oil transhipment facility, including one of the deepest mooring stations for super tankers in the world, located immediately south of the northern marine reserve on the West coast and which has been in operation since 1982 and expanded in 1993. It employs 10 per cent of the island’s population. During the 18th century, this was one of the busiest ports in the world, hence the presence of shipwrecks within the marine park up to today.
In contrast, the Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR), established in 2000, in Belize is 405 square kilometres in area and has three adjacent and nearby human settlements: Monkey River, Punta Negra and Punta Gorda. It is unique along the coast of Central America in lagoon system size and the number of in-shore mangrove islands. It is in relatively pristine condition and includes coastal and tidal wetlands, marine lagoons, and mangrove islands with associated shallow banks and fringing coral reefs. Almost all of the coastal and island vegetation, including mangroves, is intact. Maintaining coastal ecosystem functions and natural resource values, including water quality and nursery habitats of the area, is important in order to protect biodiversity and traditional fishers’ livelihoods. It is a major breeding and nursery area for juveniles of many species. Threats are expected to increase as the area is attracting more visitors for fly-fishing and sailing.
The SPAW Protocol and the listing of Marine Protected Areas is driven by the need to first recognize sites of great regional and international ecological and socio-economic value and then put measures in place to protect and conserve these areas. The Caribbean’s rich and beautiful natural heritage deserves our best efforts while also protecting the sustainable livelihoods of coastal communities.
For further information: Alejandro Laguna - Comunication and Information Officer United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean Clayton, Ciudad del Saber - Alberto Tejada, Building 103; Ancon - Panama City, Panama. Phone.: 305 3100 firstname.lastname@example.org
Credit: UNEP Environment for Development