US non-profit organization set to help SVG protect Grenadines seabirds
A new year-long initiative called “Conservation of Key Offshore Island Reserves” aims to develop long-term strategies to protect Grenadines seabirds.
The project is a partnership between the U.S.-based non-profit organization Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) and St. Vincent-based Science Initiative for Environmental Conservation and Education (SCIENCE). With funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USAID, the project will contribute to seabird conservation and management throughout the archipelago, involving both nations of Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The project will build upon previous activities, such as strengthening the existing “Grenadines Volunteer Patrol” monitoring effort as well as to developing a transboundary community-based seabird management plan. To accomplish this goal, several workshops and training sessions have been planned for 2019 to bring together those with a vested interest in seabird conservation to discuss the way forward. Additional activities will include a traditional and social media campaign, awareness and education program, stakeholder interviews and aerial assessments of seabird nesting sites.
Until now, seabirds have been afforded limited conservation and protection in the region due to lack of financial resources, confounded by the remoteness and inaccessibility of nesting islands.
Seabirds in fact are rapidly declining worldwide from factors such as development, climate change, invasive predators and declines in forage fish. The Grenadines are no exception and are further threatened by livestock grazing, traditional harvests and an overall absence of conservation and management strategies.
So why save our seabirds? The Grenadine archipelago consists of over 50 islands, islets, and cays that provide important nesting, resting and feeding habitat for more than twenty species of seabirds. Not only are seabirds important indicators of ocean health and climate change, but they have been an important part of Grenadines’ culture and livelihood since people arrived in the region. Artifacts recovered from early Amerindian sites depict seabirds on pottery as well as document the use of seabird bones and feathers in tools. Today they continue to be represented in art and folklore. In addition, for those dependent upon a maritime economy, such as fishermen, seabirds assist with navigation, fish finding, interpreting weather patterns and also provide an occasional source of nutrition. The potential for revenue generated from seabird tourism has proven to be valuable in other areas and is an underdeveloped opportunity for those looking to diversify their livelihoods in the Grenadines.
This initiative offers hope for seabirds and the island refuges they call home. If you would like more information on this project or would like to contribute as a stakeholder please contact Juliana Coffey, Project Coordinator at [email protected], on WhatsApp 1-709-770-6877 or phone 1-473-422-9547. To learn about upcoming activities, follow EPIC on Facebook at www.facebook.com/epicislands.