Marine Crisis to be Addressed

Roland Baldeo, Fisheries Division

Raw sewage deliberately pumped right into the marine environment, plus downstream waste from nearby livestock facilities, ‘fertilise’ the Marine Protected Area (MPA) at Molinere with concentrated human and animal waste pollutants, negatively impacting on the coral reefs and the availability of local seafood.

This was part of a spirited presentation yesterday by Roland Baldeo, MPA Coordinator, Fisheries Division, closing the morning session of the Roundtable on Sustainable Financing Options for Conservation, held at Caribbean House, St George’s University.

CTO Crest Symposium

Given that the majority of the population of Grenada lives along the coastline, and the country’s tourism sector is linked to its beaches, coral reefs and local seafood, such threats require a course of action to generate funds to mitigate environmental damage, and to finance conservation initiatives.

Baldeo announced that the World Bank will grant US$50,000 to do a study on the damage to mangrove by the effluent from the Grenada Distillers rum factory. Baldeo’s presentation also spoke to the impacts of high levels of ammonia and phosphates in the Beasejour River and the MPA, due to multiple threats from livestock and pig farmers cultivating close to the river, plus residues from the surrounding upland villages drain into the MPA.

Roland Baldeo, Fisheries Division
Roland Baldeo, Fisheries Division

Baldeo showed visuals of trucks discharging raw sewage just off Green Bridge, right into the marine environment, ‘fertilising’ coral reefs and the marine environment with human waste pollutants.

Citing a Key West Florida study on the artificial injection of similar pollutants in their marine environment, Baldeo said that within a 10 month period, after the artificial injections were ceased, the coral showed regrowth, and regeneration.

Fisheries Division is embarking on a series of public education events, including children’s summer camp in progress with 40 children from communities near Molinere.

The roundtable event yesterday, was one of two events ahead of the formal opening of the 1st Caribbean Symposium for Innovators in Coastal Tourism, held last night at the Grenadian by Rex Resorts.

Participants of the 3 day event – which will feature 16 workshops and 5 plenary sessions – will explore challenges to the wider adoption of sustainable tourism models and how these barriers can be overcome. Over 40 regional and international tourism experts will speak on various aspects of sustainable coastal and marine tourism.

The roundtable raised awareness of the Grenada National Conservation Fund (GNCF), and opened discussion for options available for financing for conservation and environmental initiatives in Grenada, towards identifying actions for sustainable revenue generation to match disbursements from the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF).

Government agency and department representatives present included Fitzroy James, Director of Economic and Technical Cooperation in the Ministry of Finance and Energy, Michael Jessamy Heritage Officer, Ministry of Culture, among others.

In their remarks, both Senator Simon Stiel and Permanent Secretary responsible for Forestry and Fisheries, Marilyn Austin-Cadore, were in praise for the stated expected outcomes, ie raising awareness of the purposes of the GNCF, and the need for sustainable supportive financing.

Simon Stiell addressing CTO
Simon Stiell addressing CTO

At the close of the roundtable, Simon Stiel commented that he was certainly encouraged by what had been presented at the morning session, and that the country, offered these opportunities well packaged, marketed and presented, starts to answer the question, how the country can raise revenue, working with stakeholders, within the tourism and other sectors, and some corporate partners.

In 2013, Grenada and 7 other Caribbean governments signed a declaration where, “In each participating country and territory, to effectively conserve and manage at least 20% of the marine and coastal environment by 2020.” Governments agreed to have in place, by that time, fully functioning sustainable finance mechanisms, and agreed to 7 specific actions covering issues related to marine protected areas, fisheries, tourism, climate change adaptation, and marine pollution.

In recognition of Grenada’s marine management areas as a cornerstone in the country’s efforts to effectively manage coastal and marine resources, and to address these threats, Grenada has committed to host the secretariat of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI) for 2 years, through the Division of Fisheries.

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