The following is an excerpt of remarks by Hon Alvin Dabreo, Minister for Fisheries, to the Grand Anse MPA (GAMPA) Stakeholders Forum on 25 May 2017.
“Clean water, abundant and diverse marine life (including our fisheries), healthy beaches and rich coastal vegetation are all services we gladly receive, and profit from, from our coastal ecosystems. We add to this temperature modification, fresh breezes and relaxing ambience that are so treasured and enjoyed by both local and visitors alike.
But the very things we have come to love and cherish from our coastlands are, as with other ecosystems, threatened by our very own actions. We pollute and otherwise foul our waters, we deforest our lands, we overfish or fish destructively, we overuse and encourage coastal erosion. Each and every one of us has a sacred responsibility to protect and conserve what the good Lord has so richly endowed upon us. Hence, sisters and brothers our presence here today.
The journey to actively manage and protect the nation’s coastal and marine resources through the mandate of the national government began since the 1980s. Notwithstanding earlier ordinances, it was the OECS Harmonised Fisheries Act of 1986 that set the stage for holistic management of our living marine resources in general and fisheries in particular.
It is within this piece of legislation that the term “Marine Reserves” first appeared. From the 1990s to the present, Grenada was in the vanguard within the region with respect to the creation of marine reserves which, by 1999, had changed to Marine Protected Areas or MPAs.
I’m sure that the distinguished consultant who himself drafted the GAMPA Management Plan, Dr Flloyd Homer, can well recall his early days in Grenada conducting initial surveys for the creation of MPAs in this country.
Sisters and brothers, this isn’t the first attempt to introduce some level of rational management within the Grand Anse area. In the early 2000s attempts were made through what was then the OECS Natural Resource Management Unit (NRMU) to attempt to zone the Grand Anse area to mitigate certain conflicts that were becoming problematic. This venture did not enjoy much success. But the lessons have been learned, and today we are positive that all critical stakeholders are on board with this present endeavour.
I wish to briefly address the issue of names and to disabuse those who may be harbouring the notion that the term “Marine Protected Area” connotes an area that is closed from public access and use. Some advocate that the more palatable term is Marine Managed Area (MMA). The Fisheries Act as amended in 2001 refers to Marine Protected Areas in place of Marine Reserves. But there are 4 different management categories that fall under this term:
- Marine Parks
- Marine Reserves
- Marine Historical Sites
- Marine Sanctuaries.
These management categories cater for a wide range of uses including commercial fishing, recreational use (including dive sites) and total protection where only research is permitted. Further, each MPA, depending on size can be zoned to accommodate more than 1 or even all management categories. In other words, the character and uses of a particular MPA depend on the type of management that is targeted for it. For even with Marine Managed Areas, the type of management will still have to be stipulated.
I am pleased that with the addition of Grand Anse under our MPA network we shall be making a considerable leap with respect to our commitment under the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI). Under this initiative, Grenada has committed to placing under management 25% of its coastal and marine ecosystems by 2020. Prior to Grand Anse, we had only about 4% of these ecosystems under management, but today, through the addition of the 19.7 square kilometres of the Grand Anse MPA we can now boast of placing 15% of Grenada’s coastal/marine ecosystems under management. I am confident that within the next 3 years up to 2020 we will achieve our committed goal of 25%.
The process to systematically place Grand Anse under management commenced in 2015. Financial backing was provided by the Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network Project (ECMMAN). Initial work was the biological assessment of the marine resources along the Grand Anse reef complex.
The development of the Grand Anse MPA Management Plan was the result of a participatory consultative process involving all relevant stakeholder groups. The plan was developed by Dr Flloyd Homer, an independent consultant. In addition, a Grand Anse Stakeholder Advisor Committee, as well as a mooring sub-committee, were established and a number of planned meetings held.
However, consultations with major stakeholders such as fishers, hotels, dive operators and the community, in general, will continue. This will be a continuing process. It was from these consultations that the draft zoning plan for the MPA was modified. These zones better reflect the wishes of stakeholder groups.
I will go further to inform you, sisters and brothers, that the final portion of intense consultations was only completed yesterday afternoon with Campers & Nichols, and I wish to state on record government’s sincerest appreciation for the goodwill extended by the owners and managers of Port Louis Marinas.
At this juncture, I think it is most appropriate to express, on behalf of my ministry, and indeed on behalf of the Government and People of Grenada, our sincerest gratitude to all who have laboured to bring us to where we are today. All the stakeholders in both the private and public sectors who have worked so assiduously on this project deserve our heartfelt thanks. We must not forget the funding agencies and the local project coordinators. We thank all you very much.
Sisters and brothers, as Minister for Fisheries, it is my pleasure and satisfaction today to say with confidence that I officially declare the establishment of the Grand Anse Marine Protected Area. The rest is just a formality. I expect that within the next couple of weeks we shall all read this declaration in the Government Gazette.
Finally, I wish to reiterate that as Grenada assumes leadership positions globally in the organisation of Small Island Developing States, and regionally as Chairman of Caricom, we are committed to meeting the goals of these entities with respect to Blue Growth and sustainable use of our coastal and marine resource. Our future as a nation rests heavily on this commitment.”
Forum participants included Merina Jessamy, Permanent Secretary with Responsibility for Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries; Crafton Isaac Acting Chief Fisheries Officer, Officers from the Fisheries Department, as well as representatives from Campers & Nicholson Grenada Services Ltd, Port Louis Marinas, Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA), Marine and Yachting Association Grenada (MAYAG), Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA), fisherfolk representatives and members of the media.
Ministry for Fisheries