Hillsborough, Carriacou – As part of an effort to preserve Carriacou’s stunning natural environment, the Sandy Island/ Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area (SIOBMPA) will be launched on Saturday July 31st, 2010 at 6:30PM. The SIOBMPA comprises an area of 787 hectares on the southwest coast of Carriacou. It is considered to be one of the most important marine ecosystems in the region and a culturally significant area for the people of Carriacou. Safeguarding this area ensures the health of vital marine and coastal ecosystem including extensive coral reef system, mangrove forest, small islands, and sea grass beds. Protected areas around the Caribbean and the world have resulted in increased numbers and sizes of fish, as well as improved fish production for areas outside their boundaries.
The launch comes after nearly ten years of community consultation, research and planning. Under a co-management arrangement, the SIOBMPA is now overseen by a board representing non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, Government Ministries, para statal and private associations.
A main objective of launching the SIOBMPA has been to strike a balance between socio-economic and environmental sustainability. To begin, local fisher folk will be allowed to continue to seine fish in designated areas, however all methods of reef fishing and turtle harvesting are no longer allowed in this protected area. This will allow for the area to become a productive area for reef fish. When reef fish are left to grow older and larger their egg production increases dramatically. Once funding can be secured, the Co-Management Board also aims to find alternative livelihoods for the local resource users who will be immediately affected. In Tobago Cays to the north jobs such as water taxi, rangers, vending, and food sales have increased livelihood opportunities.
To support the management of the protected area the Government of Grenada has hired and trained two community members to serve as SIOBMPA wardens. Moorings have also been installed for boats, scuba divers and boundary demarcation.
The protected area has received tremendous support and funding from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Caribbean Regional Environmental Programme (CREP), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Sustainable Grenadines Project (SusGren), Buccoo Reef Trust, and so many others.
For more information:
Roland Baldeo, MPA Coodinator
Fisheries Division, Grenada
Mobile: (473) 405-4362
Work: (473) 440-3814 or 440-3831