February 7, 2014
More OECS coastal, marine environment to be conserved

By 2016, countries within the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), should have effectively conserved 10 per cent of their coastal and marine environment, through the Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network (ECMMAN) project.{{more}}

This was revealed on Tuesday, during the project’s first consultation in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

According to Sherry Constantine, the programme manager, the ECMMAN project was designed to facilitate a part of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, which challenges countries in the region to conserve 20 per cent of their marine environment by 2020.

“There was need for an additional project of conserving 20 per cent of the coastal and marine habitat in 2020,” Constantine, who works with The Nature Conservancy, said. “The objectives are to improve fisheries and conserve and restore marine resources while providing for sustainable job opportunities in coastal communities.”

The programme manager noted that through the project, St Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as the other countries of the OECS will be able to effectively double their marine management areas.

Joan Norville, programme officer and representative from the OECS Secretariat, noted that the Caribbean region is included in the top five biodiversity hot spots in the world due to the marine and coastal eco-systems.

Therefore, she stressed the importance of conserving these areas especially since they are essential to the people.

“As we all know, these areas are increasingly subject to pressures from various sources,” she said. “The health, productivity and diversity of marine ecosystems are essential to economic viability and survival of our people, therefore the integrity of these must be preserved, rehabilitated or maintained when necessary for future generations.”

National Parks, Rivers and Beaches is the agency that is heading the ECMMAN project locally.

In his remarks, the director, Andrew Wilson stated that the project has the potential to positively impact the conservation of “natural resource, economic drivers that we highly depend on presently and will no doubt continue to have a heavy reliance on in the future, especially where our marine resources and geographic space is many times exponentially larger than our terrestrial space.”

The ECMMAN project is a four-year project that began in 2013 among the OECS countries of St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada.

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, which provided approximately EC$14.7 million.