by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
The official launch on Friday, 26 January of the Grand Anse Marine Protected Area (GAMPA), brings the government of Grenada closure to its goal of conserving at least 25% of the country’s nearshore and coastal habitat by 2020.
With the addition of Grand Anse MPA, Grenada has a total number of 4 MPAs constituting the protection of 15% of Grenada’s coastal area and includes zones for recreation and diving, such as the famous Bianca shipwreck, as well as designated zones for yacht anchorage and priority fishing areas. It stretches from the entrance of Port Louis Marina in the north to the southernmost point of the Maurice Bishop International Airport at Point Saline and includes the island’s most iconic and populated beach at Grand Anse.
This project is entrusted to the Fisheries Division MPA Unit to implement regulations to protect approximately over 7 square miles of marine and coastal environment, including coral reefs, dive sites, and fishery resources. A northern anchorage zone and mooring site for Grenada’s yachting community has been identified to minimise harm to critical ocean floor ecosystems, such as coral reef and seagrass beds.
Hon Alvin Dabero, Minister with responsibility for Forestry and Fisheries said the primary rationale behind the establishment Grand Anse MPA is to minimise the historical and current conflicts to areas, including the capture of immature fish particularly by spearfishing; the unregulated anchoring resulting in damage of marine ecosystems, the lack of demarcation zones for swimming and motorised water sports, and the unsupervised coastal development which may have adverse impact on the environment.”
Merina Jessamy, Permanent Secretary with responsibility for Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries & the Environment, encouraged the MPA unit to push the boundaries of their limitation to achieve the ambitious target set by Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, of conserving 25% of Grenada’s coastal habitats by 2020.
“Under the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, many nations agreed to protect at least 20%. Our prime minister gave us a very ambitious target; he said well Grenada would protect at least 25%, so I am very pleased to see that this is a reality and with this declaration of the MPA we are officially at 15%. I cannot say that we should now relax because 2020 is just around the corner.”
Crafton Isaac, Chief Fisheries Officer Fisheries Division, called on the government to continue to provide the necessary resources needed for the protection of Grenada’s Marine Protected Areas, as the process is still ongoing. “The management of MPA is adaptive, and we expect some changes, so we have to continue dialogue with users, and we should hope that there is an open channel of communication with users and fisheries division, in particular, the MPA unit…very importantly we must have the commitment for the resources from government to manage the MPAs.”
The Fisheries Division also presented the keys to a patrol vessel sponsored by the Nature Conservancy.
Dr Sherry Constantine, Senior Programme Manager Eastern Caribbean Nature Conservancy said, “The Grand Anse MPA will greatly enhance the livelihoods of the fishers and communities within the Grand Anse area by securing a more sustainable future.”
A significant part of the stakeholder consultation process, the Grand Anse Fishers Association, became a registered entity that will continue to be a voice for fisherfolk who access the protected and surrounding areas. The Grenada MPA Programme is working to identify alternative activities to enhance the livelihood opportunities for nearby fisherfolk. The discussions would ensure that there will be no adverse impact on the income of their income as a result of the declaration.
The declaration was made possible through a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands Forestry and Fisheries and The Nature Conservancy under the Climate-Resilience Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network (ECMMAN) Project and with funding from the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).