The St. Vincent and Grenada Grenadines’ most pristine sites are currently benefitting from a 12 million dollar, five-year United States Agency for International Development (USAID) support, to assist in the reduction of threats to marine and coastal diversity in the areas.
The Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Grenadine Bank Program, which encompasses the Carriacou Sandy Island/Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area and the St Vincent/Tobago Cays, will be implemented by the Nature Conservancy and five other local partners.
Speaking at this historical launch, the United States Ambassador for the Southern and Eastern Caribbean, Larry Palmer, pointed out that this is another demonstration of the US support for Grenada, St Vincent and the entire region. Addressing a packed to capacity Hillsborough Resource Centre last week Friday, the Ambassador pointed out that the project’s main objective is to sustain and maintain livelihoods through the conservation and sustenance of the marine resources.
He added that the commencement of this Grenadine Bank component is extremely important towards the preservation of coral reefs, mangroves , sea-beds and both St Vincent and Grenada’s tourism product.
“There is no better place to launch such a project than an island as Carriacou which is surrounded by reefs” said the Ambassador who pointed out that he has been for the last three years yearning to set foot on the shores of Carriacou.
The Ambassador told the launch which included a contingent from the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministries from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, that while there is enormous beauty running through the Grenadine seascape it is currently under threat. He said that projects such as the one he was launching are multi fold as they help to sustain the natural pristine state of the environment and have enormous economic benefits to many including those in the fishing industry through the conservation of marine life.
The ambassador noted that scientists have shown a reduction by one-third of corals in the region since the 1980s.
‘Several reef building species are acutely in danger of extinction which has had increasingly negative effects on sustainability and resilience of ecosystems services such as spurning grounds, erosion protection and natural barriers” the Ambassador pointed out.
“Economic sectors like tourism and fisheries are severely affected” he said. Against this Ambassador Palmer said they are pleased to partner with the Nature Conservancy to help reverse those negative trends.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry and Rural Transformation, Saboto Caesar, termed the occasion a significant and timely investment for Tobago Cays and by extension all of SVG. The Vincentian minister placed particular emphasis on the important rewards this imitative would have for future generations. He said that he has confidence in the future when seeing so many young persons are getting involved in projects of such a nature. In thanking the Government and People of the United States Minister Caesar assured them that the Government of SVG would redouble its efforts in partnership with groups and People of Grenada to ensure that projects of such nature realize their full potential.
Minister for Agriculture, Grenada, Roland Bhola, told the ceremony, that as human beings we have been destroying some aspects of what nature has provided. In praising the US Government through the USAID and Nature Conservancy for the enormous support towards the preservation of the marine ecosystem, he said that it’s important for us to manage our marine resources. Championing this country’s growth in the fishing industry to export to the foreign countries he said there is a dwindling of several of the indigenous species of fish in our waters.
“Therefore we must draw that line between conservation and consumption” said the minister.
He said it is time for intensification of the level of education on the importance and the proper measures in the management of the marine world. Against this he called for a greater involvement in the subject matters at the school and community level. Minister Bhola said that Grenada is carded to stage a major forum next year in the blue economy which would attract about 800 persons.
An overview of the CMBP was delivered by Sheldon Cohen. There were also several presentations from members of various organizations and ministries relative to the protection and preservation of the marine ecosystem. Presentations also came from representatives of various groups and organizations relevant to the protection of the marine ecosystem.