CATS aims to sustainably manage marine areas in SVG
May 22, 2015
CATS aims to sustainably manage marine areas in SVG

Stakeholders in St Vincent and the Grenadines have taken steps towards drafting legislation that will help to sustainably manage marine areas in this country.

This week, a one-day conference on the Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) was held at Sunset{{more}} Shores with various stakeholders to discuss the issues and challenges related to managing marine areas.

CATS is a project being implemented in countries within CARICOM and is being implemented by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Environmental Health and Management Unit and the German Development Cooperation.

In brief remarks at Tuesday’s opening ceremony, director of National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Andrew Wilson outlined the objectives of the second phase of this project.

“We are actually the last Caribbean country that is a part of the project who is actually conducting this legal and institutional framework conference,” Wilson revealed.

“The overall objectives of the CATS 2 programme is to provide the management of existing marine protected area in selected CARICOM member states.”

Wilson revealed that the St Vincent and the Grenadines project site was the South Coast marine area. He noted that it is one of 10 marine areas in this country and is the only conservation marine area on the mainland.

The CATS specific objective with respect to the St Vincent and the Grenadines South Coast marine conservation is twofold. First of all, the development of a management plan for the South Coast marine area based on stakeholder participation involvement, and secondly to operationalize the marine park and the marine management area with sustainable financial mechanisms in place,” he said.

Legal consultant Danielle Andrade facilitated most of the presentations done at the conference on Tuesday.

She noted that while the discussion focuses on the South East marine coastal area, anything outlined and discussed within strategic action can be implemented in other marine areas.

“We will be discussing in particular, strategic recommendations in a plan of action that will outline where some of the key priorities and steps can be taken to improve the legal and organizational frame work for managing marine areas on St Vincent and the Grenadines,” Andrade said.

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Raymond Ryan highlighted the importance of marine management strategies, as they may be used to protect habitats and life stages common among marine species.

Ryan noted that the South Coast marine area is used for many purposes and is home to an endemic seahorse and endemic reef fish.

“There are several marinas, many hotels and restaurants, several historical and cultural sites. The heavy use of the site has been linked to the defiling eco-system health as a result of overfishing, anchor damage, solid waste discharges, black water and grey water pollution and sediment,” he said.

The permanent secretary stressed an urgent need for the management of activities which can impact negatively on the south coast eco-system.

Chief fisheries officer Jennifer Cruickshank-Howard also delivered brief remarks at the opening ceremony.(BK)