Executive Summary This media brief is a key resource tool for Journalists as it provides an extensive look at how the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) of the United Nation Environment Programme is working in the wider Caribbean region to protect wildlife. It gives case samples of how some of the different islands — such as Jamaica, Belize and Dominica — are working with the CEP to tackle the legislation necessary to ratify the Protocol on Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW). It explores the far reaching effects of overfishing and other harmful practices on the region’s key income generating activities such as tourism and fisheries. It also provides an extensive listing of resource persons for Journalists to contact for more information. The story ideas and material provided can also generate ideas for further research.
NEWS FLASH In 2008 Belize ratified the SPAW Protocol and the Protocol on Land Based Sources of Pollution.
Introduction United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) Promotes regional cooperation for the protection and development of the marine environment of the Wider Caribbean Region. The Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) is a conglomerate of legislative, programmatic and institutional frameworks and entities working together in assisting the nations and territories of the Wider Caribbean Region to protect their marine and coastal environment and promote sustainable development. The Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) is one of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) administered Regional Seas Programmes. The CEP is managed by and for the countries of the Wider Caribbean Region through the Caribbean Action Plan (1981) addressing regional environmental challenges. The Action Plan led to the 1983 adoption of the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention), which provides the legal framework. The Convention has been supplemented by three protocols addressing specific environmental issues namely, oil spills, specially protected areas and wildlife and land-based sources and activities of marine pollution. The CEP provides the programmatic framework for the Cartagena Convention. The Caribbean Regional Co-ordinating Unit (CAR/RCU) located in Kingston, Jamaica was created in 1986 and serves as secretariat to the CEP. The CEP has three main sub-programmes: Assessment and Management of Environment Pollution (AMEP). Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW). Communication, Education, Training and Awareness (CETA). CREDITS: Written by Andrea Downer Editing team: Indi Mclymont-Lafayette, Christopher Corbin, Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri Layout & Design: Hevol Benson Special thanks to all the persons and organisations in the region that contributed to this briefing.
What the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife Protocol (SPAW) means for the Caribbean
By Andrea Downer
PAW is the only region-wide environmental treaty that protects critical marine and coastal ecosystems and their species, while promoting regional co-operation and sustainable development. It is likely that a collective sigh of relief was uttered among environmental interests in the Wider Caribbean Region, when in 1990, the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife Protocol, (SPAW) was adopted. SPAW evolved from the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment for the Wider Caribbean, (Cartagena Convention, 1983) and took effect in June 2000 when it was ratified by a ninth Contracting Party from the Wider Caribbean. The Protocol makes provision for the establishment of protected areas and buffer zones for conservation of wildlife habitats and ecosystems. It works through national and regional co-operative measures for the protection of critical animal and plant species and their habitats. It not only protects species by regularly their habitats but also by prohibiting fishing, hunting, harvesting or trade of a number of critically threatened and endangered species. For less vulnerable species or those with healthier populations, management measures apply to ensure their use is
sustainable through time.
What compliance would mean for the region
According to the Cartagena Convention, “The objective of the compliance procedures and mechanisms (of the Convention) shall be to promote compliance with the provisions of the Protocol, to address cases of non-compliance by Parties, and to provide advice or assistance where appropriate.” In addition, the Convention states, “The compliance procedures and mechanisms shall be simple, facilitative, non-adversarial and cooperative in nature.” Reefs at Risk in the Caribbean, a publication of the World Resources Institute and UNEP published in 2004, states that ineffective management of protected areas poses a threat to Caribbean coral reefs. According to the report, the growth of tourism, fisheries, and other development in coral reef areas is negatively impacting those very productive but fragile ecosystems. The establishment of marine protected areas, MPAs, is an important tool for safeguarding coral reefs. However, the report states that out of 285 MPAs have been declared across the Caribbean, only about six percent are rated as effectively
Development has to be done with consideration for impact on the enviro n m e n t
managed and 13 percent as having partially effective management. An estimated 20 percent of coral reefs are located in MPAs, but only 4 percent are located in MPAs rated as effectively managed. The long-term effects of the destruction of coral reefs are devastating and could actually result in large scale loss of life. Reefs at Risk in the Caribbean states that in 2000, net benefits from dive tourism in the Caribbean total an estimated US$2.1 billion per year. According to the report, “Dive tourism is high-value tourism, with divers typically spending 60-80 percent more than other tourists.” The publication estimates that by 2015, coral reef degradation could result in annual losses of US$100 million to US$300 million to the Caribbean tourism industry. It is estimated that losses to particular areas within the Caribbean could be (much) greater, as tourism shifts away from areas where coral reefs have become degraded and towards remaining intact reefs. The publication showed that coral reefs provide valuable goods and services to support local and national economies, and their degradation can lead to significant economic losses, particularly in the coastal areas of developing countries, through loss of fishing livelihoods, malnutrition due to lack of protein, loss of tourism revenues, and increased coastal erosion. Coral reefs also contribute to US$310 million annually in the region’s fisheries. Degradation of reefs could reduce those fisheries revenues between US$95-140 million per year by 2015.
Case study of Jamaica
Jamaica’s coral reefs threatened
t is no secret; Jamaica’s coral reefs, protected areas and endangered wild life species are under threat. These issues have formed the basis for many fierce verbal and even courtroom battles by local
environmentalists and the Jamaican government. Environmentalists seem convinced that the National Environmental Planning Agency, NEPA, the government body responsible for ensuring that development projects conform to guidelines that do not endanger the environment, are failing miserably at that task. Local environmentalist groups have often leveled charges of flawed development approval practices, and even more frequently, charges of flawed or inadequate impact assessments at NEPA. The agency has denied all those charges. Chief Executive Officer of NEPA, Leary Myers, told Panos Caribbean recently that The National Strategy and Action Plan for Biological Diversity, developed by the Ministry of Land and Environment, provides an adequate framework for Jamaica’s sustainable development. Local environmentalists have charged that developments have been approved for areas that are protected, eg, Pear Tree Bottom in Mammee Bay, St. Ann, as well as aborted attempts to mine parts of the cockpit country. They feel that the National Strategy and Action Plan on Biological Diversity in Jamaica has failed to adequately protect those vulnerable areas. Having lost faith in the ability of local authorities to properly balance development while protecting the environment, local environmentalists think that while a regional treaty to protect local specially protected areas and wild life would not carry specific penalties, such a treaty would provide the kind of objective atmosphere which would foster greater transparency and accountability during the development process. Jamaica was one of several countries in the region which signed the SPAW Protocol in 1990. However the country still has not ratified this instrument to make it national law within the country. Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Barbados, The Netherlands Antilles (Curacao, Bon aire, Aruba,) the United States, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Colombia,Venezuela, France (for their French Territories), St. Vincent
and the Grenadines, Panama amd most recently, Belize, have all ratified the treaty. Other Caribbean countries such as Antigua and Dominica have not signed SPAW. According to the Ministry of Land and Environment “a comprehensive assessment of the requirements for the ratification of the SPAW Protocol was undertaken in 2001.” A task force of representatives from the Ministry of Land and Environment, the National Environment and Planning Agency, the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Forestry Department, Fisheries Division and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, was also established to ensure that Jamaica would ratify the SPAW Protocol by 2002. “A deadline that Jamaica would be in a position to ratify the Protocol by 2000 when the Protocol entered into force, was not met,” said Leonie Barnaby, Senior Director, Environmental Management Division in the Land and Environment Ministry. By 2007, after missing the self-imposed deadline, the government at the time was still was not in a position to say when Jamaica was likely to ratify the SPAW Protocol. According to the Minister of Land and Environment at the time, Dean Peart, the government was undertaking some legislative reform first. (Note: Peart’s People’s National Party has since been voted out of government but the new Jamaica Labour Party Government is still organizing the environment portfolio). “(The government is) looking at changing the laws which govern NEPA and the plan is to incorporate existing legislation that governs NEPA, the Natural Resources Conservation Authority and the Town and Country Planning Act,” he said, adding that only after that is done, can the issue of ratifying SPAW be addressed. Ms. Barnaby said the multi-sectoral task force “recognised that there were various pieces of legislation and policy initiatives that, with amendment, could allow the implementation of Jamaica’s obligations under the SPAW Protocol.” She said the task force recommended that the Wild Life Protection Act could be amended to address some of the legal obligations of the Protocol. According to her, the proposal takes into account the fact that the Wildlife Protection Act primarily regulates hunting activities in Jamaica and governs the protection of designated animals. “The taskforce also recommended that new legislation should seek to address some of the requirements of the Convention on Biological Diversity, as some of the obligations under this Convention governs the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and sharing of benefits derived from the use of specific genetic resources including the creation and management of protected areas,” Barnaby said. “The new legislation is expected to incorporate the concept of biodiversity into Jamaican law, introduce provisions governing access to genetic resources, protection of endangered, threatened, endemic plant and animal, bird and fish species,” Ms. Barnaby continued. In addition, she said the new legislation would “regulate the introduction, control and eradication of invasive species and require registration of animal and plant, bird and fish attractions and persons who wish to collect these species.” She said the new legislation should “consolidate the protection of habitats and species through the incorporation of provisions governing protected areas in the NRCA ACT of 1991 into the new Wild Life and Protected Areas Act.” According to Ms. Barnaby, while the Endangered Species (Conservation, Protection and Regulation of Trade) Act 2000, also governs the protection and conservation of endangered species, it has an emphasis on trade and does not fulfill the requirements of the SPAW Protocol in relation to protection and sustainable use of species. While not giving specific deadlines, Ms. Barnaby claims that drafting instructions have been prepared and the provisions will be incorporated in the environment and planning legislation which is to be developed for the National Environment and Planning Agency.
However, these explanations do very little to appease local environmentalists who seem eternally locked in combat with the government as they fiercely lobby for environmental protection through sustainable development and other environmentally friendly practices. At least two local environmentalists and one regional environmental group have leveled serious charges at the government. The general consensus of the trio is the government’s delay in ratifying the SPAW protocol has more to do with protecting the government’s and developers’ questionable interests than with the often cumbersome business of amending existing or drafting new legislation.
UNEP urges government accession
Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri, SPAW Programme Officer, at the Regional Coordinating Unit, United Nations Environment Programme, (UNEP), says the Jamaican government’s explanations for not joining the SPAW Protocol 17 years after signing it are difficult to understand. “They have indicated the main reasons for not ratifying the Protocol, including the fact that there is no legislation in place to support the treaty,” she stated. Mrs. Khouri however finds this contradictory since Jamaica became a Party to the related global agreement on biodiversity (CBD) without having all the required legislation in place, (which is also supported by Ms. Barnaby’s statement above). She explained that UNEP plays a purely catalytic and coordinating role and despite the benefits to be derived from ratifying the Protocol, the organisation cannot demand or pressure the government to adopt a treaty as the UN recognises the sovereign rights of States. However, she noted that environmental groups and concerned citizens can exercise their rights by expressing their opinions on the conservation and sustainability of the national resources of the country and thus may insist on the government to adopt it. However, local environmentalist, John Maxwell says he and other local environmentalists have tried and failed to get the government to act on the matter. “Efforts of Local Environmentalists are being ignored at Jamaica’s peril. Arguments being put forward about the benefits of ratifying SPAW are being trashed by the Urban Development Corporation and NEPA,” he claimed. Mr. Maxwell said the government’s reason for not ratifying the protocol is “a lie and an excuse.” “It upsets me profoundly to stand by and watch the desecration of the Jamaican environment,” he lamented. However, another local environmentalist, Dr. George Proctor of the Department of Life Sciences at the University of the West Indies and Consultant Botanist, has admitted that local environmentalists could have done more to pressure the government to take action. “We probably haven’t pushed hard enough,” he stated shouldering a portion of the blame for Jamaica’s failure to ratify the SPAW Protocol more than a decade after it was signed. However, Mr. Maxwell lays the blame squarely at the government’s feet. “It hasn’t been done because people understand that if SPAW is signed it will prevent the kind of drive by development that is now more fashionable. (If SPAW were in force,) intrinsically valuable and important areas such as the Cockpit Country, parts of Hellshire and Harris Savannah (a place just outside of MayPen) North over Vernam Field, which is considered a world class biological treasure with plants unknown to science), would be protected and therefore could not destroyed in the name of development,” he continued. Dr. Proctor then hinted that corruption could be one of the key factors
...indiscriminate growth of tourism, fisheries, and other development in coral reef areas is negatively impacting on very productive but fragile ecosystems.
behind the government’s failure to ratify SPAW. “(With SPAW,) it is harder for them to scrape up any money that is lying around. One always suspects, when dealing with politicians, that there is corruption (involved). (It is well known that sometimes) money passing hands unethically,” he continued. NEPA’s CEO, Mr. Leary Myers, was strongly opposed to the thought that the development approval process was influenced by corrupt practices. According to Mr. Myers, he is not aware of any corruption in the development approval process and, he stated that it would be virtually impossible for corruption to influence the outcome of applications for development. “My staff members are some of the most hardworking people, and it pains my heart when I see them so dedicated and these things are being said about them,” he argued. “I view the charge as a personal attack on me and my office.” Mr. Myers said that the environmentalists leveling the charges of corrupt practices at NEPA should explain how the SPAW Protocol would prevent the kind of corrupt practices that they have implied take place
under the present system. However, Mr. Maxwell maintains that there are inadequacies in the current Environment Impact Assessment systems that NEPA utilizes. “People are allowed to do all kind of things and get away with it,” he said while explaining that under SPAW, other countries in the region could complain to the governing body of SPAW and that would bring some amount of pressure on the countries that are in breach of the protocol. While pointing out that actual sanctions could not be applied against those countries, he said that there is a lot of merit in the kind of “moral suasion” that the other countries could bring to bear to pressure the no-compliant country/countries into compliance. “While there are no penalties for non-compliance by countries which have ratified the Protocol, SPAW is part of the Cartagena Convention and if you break a Convention you can be held accountable to the governing body of the Convention,” he added. Mrs. Khouri of UNEP is also convinced that being parties to the SPAW Protocol will be effective in ensuring compliance by member countries as the countries’ knowledge of each other activities, will, and does prompt accountability and because the Convention and its Protocols are based
fundamentally on the principles of regional cooperation. Mrs. Khouri said parties are, to a large extent adhering to conditions and terms of the SPAW protocol. “The region is so close geographically that through networking, if they (the countries) were doing things against the Protocol, it would become common knowledge,” she stated.
Environmentalists raise the case of Jamaica’s endangered species
While the Ministry of Land and Environment continue to drag its feet in implementing, environmentalists are still pushing the case of new legislation that would introduce “provisions governing access to genetic resources, protection of endangered, threatened, endemic plants and animals, birds and fish species,” according to Mrs. Barnaby, Dr. Proctor said there is a development now taking place in western Jamaica that is endangering and threatening endemic plant species.,
“In the long run, we will lose most of our shorelines and valuable assets because of unregulated development,” Dr. Proctor claims. “There is a tendency on the part of developers to start their development without the necessary permits and then afterwards try to get the permits, meanwhile, a lot is being destroyed,” he stated. “Environmental Impact Assessments are either inadequate, inaccurate or absent. This is a very difficult aspect of development, because people who want to develop want to make as much profit as they can, and they will destroy whatever they need to (in order to) get the profit unless they are regulated or stopped,” he said. “Jamaica is losing some of its important natural habitats by that process,” Dr. Proctor said while adding that a very destructive process was taking place in Negril Hills, Westmoreland, which the government was ignoring. Minister Peart and NEPA have however denied any knowledge of the development. “Work and development began before any Environmental Impact Assessments were done, however, when the (regulatory) body was advised, they put together an assessment which was faulty and inaccurate,” Proctor charged, while adding that a high-density development in Negril Hills could very well destroy some of the rare plants that he knows exist there. One of the endangered plants is the orchid Broughtonia negrilensis, which Proctor said was found on the site. It is one of the last places where the species is found in the world, said the botanist. In addition, he said a particular type of Agave is also endangered. “Jamaica has several species of Agave and all of them are found only on the island. This particular one is found only in the Negril Hills and it is nowhere else in the world,” he emphasized. According to Dr. Proctor, the Agave has not been officially named and was discovered about two years ago, by himself and fellow botanist, Andreas Oberli. He described the plant as a small, un-branched tree with thick fleshy leaves in a rosette at the top of the trunk. “It has inflorescence, which is about 15-20 feet tall that rises above the rosette of leaves that has bright, yellow, flowers in dense clusters,” he continued as he described the rare find. “It is being named for Mr. Oberli, so it will be known as Agave oberlii,” he continued. He was unable to provide Panos Caribbean with a photo of the plant as he said a photo of it could not be made public until after it is included in a publication by the Institute of Jamaica. While not giving a specific date, he said such a publication should be ready soon. While Mr. Leary and Minister Peart denied any knowledge of the endangered plants in that vicinity, Dr. Proctor claimed that the rare
Jamaica’s endangered Blackbilled parrot and Yellow Boa.
Belize barrier reef system, the second largest in the world.
species of Agave has been named in the belated Environment Impact Assessment that was done on the area. He claims that the development has been going on for approximately a year to a year and half. He said the development spans approximately 300-350 acres.
The case of Belize and Dominica
As Jamaica struggles to keep a promise made 17 years ago to ratify the SPAW Protocol, reports coming out of Belize indicate that the government now recognises the benefits to be derived from being part of the regional initiative. It in fact ratified the SPAW Protocol in early 2008. However, based on the responses of a senior member of the Ministry of Environment in Dominica, that country has no intention to become a part of the SPAW initiative. Meanwhile, Mrs. Khouri was concerned by some non-involvement in the regional initiative aimed at protecting critical areas of the environment and endangered wild life in the region much of which constitutes rhe natural beauty on which tourism in the Caribbean is based. “Dominica is not a party to SPAW despite being known as the ‘Nature Island,’ the island is also Green Globe certified, so it is not understandable that they are not part of this initiative,” she stated. “Belize has the second largest reef in the world and they have established several marine reserves... in fact implementing many of the provisions in the Protocol even before they ratified, has participated in numerous projects and activities funded through SPAW.” Dominica stated bluntly that that country has no intention of acceding to the SPAW Protocol. But Albert Roches, Environmental Officer in the
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Belize admitted that his country’s delay in becoming part of the regional initiative had been due mainly to a lack of political will and a lack of sanctions against countries in the region that are not involved. He disclosed that the major factor, which had motivated the government in Belize to attempt to come on board, was the current threat to Belize’s almost 200 miles of world famous coastline. He said the reefs have been sustaining a lot of damage and added that coastal development, and cruise tourism; are two major factors contributing to the damage. “One of the reasons it (SPAW) is on the agenda (now), is that we are experiencing a lot of damage to the reef and there is a lot of pressure on the use of the reefs right now,” he stated. Mr. Roches told Panos that almost half of the people who come off the cruise ships want to go diving. However, he says currently, there are no set carrying capacity for some areas, which would stipulate how many people can dive in a particular area per day. He said this results in overcrowding at some diving sites, which not only damages the reefs’ infrastructure, but scares marine life away. Explaining that Belize’s tourism season runs from late November of one year until late June of the following year, Mr. Roches revealed that in one year, no fishes could be found at one diving site a few months after the tourism season had started. “Too many humans had visited the area,” he explained.
In addition, he says the failure of Belize’s government to designate areas along the coast where boats and ships can safely travel without sustaining damage or damaging the reefs has resulted in chaos and irreparable damage to some reefs.
Mr. Roches told Panos Belize’s long barrier reef which spans almost 190 miles is at intervals broken up by channels through which marine vessels can travel to shore. However, he said sometimes vessels misjudge and mistake what appears to be an open area for a channel and realize their mistake too late when their vessels and or reefs have been damaged.
“There has been a significant increase in incidents of marine vessels running aground. Sometimes they misjudge how deep a particular area of the sea is or the width or depth of a channel and run on top of the reefs. In some instances, we have to leave the vessels there, as moving the vessels would create much more damage than if they remain where they ran aground,” Mr. Roches explained. He told Panos that since last year, a ship has ran aground approximately once every two months and that at least 20 percent of the vessels have had to be left on the reefs. Mr. Roches said Belize’s Port Authority has indicated that are far more incidents of marine vessels running aground and damaging the reefs, but a significant number of the incidents go unreported and the damage is unaccounted for. The Caribbean Reefs at Risk publication predicts that the degradation of coral reefs that protects coastal shorelines by dissipating wave and storm winds; could result in widespread damage and great economic losses during hurricanes, storms and other weather activities that carry high winds and waves. “The estimated value of shoreline protection services provided by Caribbean reefs is between US$700 million and US$2.2 billion per year. Within the next 50 years, coral degradation and death could lead to losses totaling US$140 million to US$420 million annually,” the publication states. According to the publication, Hurricane Mitch, a category 5 storm, which struck Belize in 1998, “caused widespread coral destruction in fore reefs and outer atoll reefs. The report predicts that it will take years for the full consequences of that event to emerge. The publication also notes that Belize’s system of 13 MPAs is well established with most under active co-management with local Non-Governmental Organisations.
The 2007 State of World Population report released in June 2007 by the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, also predicts that rising sea levels due to rapid climate change will pose a serious threat to coastal zones and those who live along coast lines. According to the report, “One of the alarming prospects of climate change is its impact on sea level rise and its potential consequences for coastal urban areas. Coastal zones have always concentrated people and economic activities because of their natural resources and trading opportunities. Many of the world’s largest cities are on seacoasts and at the mouths of the great rivers. Those populations…can be a burden on coastal ecosystems, many of which are already under stress. They are increasingly at risk from seaward hazards such as sea level rise and stronger storms induced by climate change. Sea level rise, especially if combined with extreme climatic events, would flood large parts of these areas.” Mr. Roches disclosed that he was currently working on a project to mark some of the channels between the reefs, and explained that currently, only about approximately 25 percent of the channels have been marked. He said under the current project, only four more channels would be marked. He claimed that bureaucratic bungling, the cost associated with marking the channels and the challenge of adequately patrolling Belize’s coastline are all factors that his government is struggling with as Belize tries desperately to protect what is left of the country’s reefs.
Coral reefs also contribute to US$310 million annually in the region’s fisheries. Degradation of reefs could reduce those fisheries revenues between US$95-140 million per year by 2015.
“While my department has taken on the task of marking the channels, it is not the Environment Department’s responsibility,” Mr. Roches explained. “The Ports Authority and the Fisheries Department have direct responsibility,” he continued. Explaining that buoys are used to mark the channels, he said it costs approximately US$6,000.00 to mark one channel.
“We have a coast guard, with very limited personnel and there is currently, only one vessel patrolling the waters, and even so, the cost of fuel hampers adequate patrolling,” Mr. Roches stated. According to Mr. Roches, vessels that run aground are fined for the violation, but not all of the fines are paid. He said funds to mark the four channels are coming from fines applied to a vessel that ran aground last year.
Mr. Roches said negotiations are currently ongoing with the Tourism Ministry to source funding to mark more channels and that the Ministry of Environment has devised its own plan for collecting revenue to assist. “The Ministry of Tourism collects a head tax of approximately US$7.00 per person from every cruise ship tourist that comes into the country. We are asking that the ministry to provide funding from that pool for the demarcation of buoys for the channels and some for mooring,” he said while explaining that anchoring results in a lot of damage to the reefs as well.
Mr. Roches said while his ministry’s attempts at negotiating are currently being stonewalled, he is optimistic that they will make progress. In addition, he said the Environmental Department has implemented a policy that all cruise ships will sign an Environmental Compliance Plan, which sets out guidelines and conditions that the vessels must operate under while in Belize waters. He said the vessels would get the plans through ship agents in Belize and a monitoring fee of US$15,000.00 per season per vessel is to be introduced which would allow the monitoring of the vessels’ activities at the different destination sites on the coast. He said the monitoring fee structure and environmental compliance plan has been in place for several years but unfortunately, the tourism ministry, which had the responsibility for enforcing it, had not been doing so.
Mr. Roches revealed that the World WildLife Fund has undertaken a comprehensive study of the condition of Belize’s reef structure, the findings of which are to be released soon.
Dominica speaks out
When contacted, Lloyd Pascal of the Ministry of Environment in Dominica was very blunt. “SPAW stands in direct opposition to what we believe, it (SPAW), i.e. people cannot touch and interfere with protected areas, however, we believe in sustainable development and we are not going to tie ourselves to something that goes against our principles,” he stated. “SPAW is not important to us,” Mr. Pascal stated emphatically. According to him, Dominica already belongs to other international conventions which have wider appeals. He said the country is committed to protecting its natural resources and actually began practicing conservation of the environment before it became popular. “Our first National Park was established in 1975!” he
Buoys are used to mark the ship channels ...approximately 25 percent of the channels have been marked.
declared. Mr. Pascal said one of the fundamental objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity which Dominica is party to; is the sustainability of natural resources. “We can’t sign one agreement that is about sustainable development and one that is about total preservation (of the environment),” he maintained. In recognition of the sovereign rights of nations, Mrs. Vanzella-Khouri of UNEP noted that while she respects that position, she disagrees with Mr. Pascals’ opinion on the SPAW Protocol. “We have heard that argument before,” Mrs. Khouri stated, “but it is a major misconception about the objectives and provisions of the agreement. On the contrary, SPAW is about the sustainable use of the coastal and marine resources, precisely to ensure the long-term livelihood and wellbeing of the people of the region.” “Any one who says that SPAW is about “total preservation” has not read the treaty as only a couple of articles refer to total protection and only of those species listed as threatened and endangered in the Wider Caribbean,” she said while adding that, “sustainability does not mean that anything and everything must be allowed… there have to be regulations and controls and even prohibition of certain activities if so required to ensure that certain places or species will continue to produce and benefit the people in the long-term …anything different from that can not be called sustainable development but overexploitation and misuse of natural resources” Reefs at Risk in the Caribbean notes that Dominica has a very narrow coastal shelf, and reef development is limited. The report estimates that approximately 70 sq km of coral reef around Dominica as threatened by human activities. Overfishing, coastal development, and sediment and pollution from land-based sources were identified as threatening almost all reefs. Marine-based pollution was estimated as a threat to about 15 percent of Dominica’s reefs. No hurricanes have struck the island since Hurricane David in 1979. However, Hurricane Luis in 1995 caused heavy sedimentation and wave destruction of reef-building coral along the southwest coast.
Marine Protected Areas, MPAs, containing coral reefs include the Soufriere/Scott’s Head Marine Reserve on the southwest coast and Cabrits National Park. The Soufriere/Scotts Head Marine Reserve is managed by the Local Area Management Authority. The report also estimates that nearly two thirds of the Caribbean’s coral reefs are threatened by human activity. The publication and estimates that one-third of coral reefs in the Caribbean are threatened by coastal development. In addition, the report states that sediment and pollution from inland sources threaten about one-third of the Caribbean’s coral reefs and that marine-based threats to coral reefs are widespread across the island. Overfishing is said to threaten more than 60 percent of Caribbean coral reefs while diseases, rising sea temperatures as well as ineffective management of protected areas further threaten the region’s coral reefs. The publication warns that coastal communities and national economies of the Caribbean region are poised to sustain substantial economic losses if current trends in coral reef degradation continue. The publication says that even in the absence of international legal instruments, regional collaboration on issues such as fisheries and watershed management could greatly reduce some of the threats. According to the report, over 80 percent of the reefs in Jamaica are threatened by human activities. “The majority of reefs are threatened from multiple sources. Widespread unemployment, densely populated coastal zones, easy access to the reefs and narrow shelf areas result in the reef resources have been heavily used to provide livelihoods and sustenance. Unfortunately, this open and unregulated has reduced the reefs’ productivity. Illegal fishing activity and limited capacity to enforce fishing regulations; compound the problem.” However, the report is optimistic that new fishing regulations being developed by Jamaica should help to minimize the problem.
1. An investigative piece about the development in the Negril Hills that Dr. Proctor said threatens two rare plants. Talk to Dr. Proctor more about the issue, visit the site and get photos of the development and if possible,
the endangered plants and, armed with evidence, attempt to get NEPA and the relevant government bodies as well as local environment groups to speak on the issue. 2. Examine the current system of approval of developments currently used by regulating authorities in the region such as NEPA with a view to identifying any weaknesses in the system that could result in specially protected areas and wildlife being threatened or destroyed.
3. Closely examine the legislative process of incorporating current environmental and developmental laws that the relevant government bodies and NEPA said has to be done before the issue of ratifying SPAW can be addressed. Find out where the process is now or if in fact the process has started and, if possible try to get an idea of when the process is likely to be completed.
4. Based on the benefits to be derived from ratifying regional protocols such as SPAW, should governments be held more accountable for failure to sign/ratify such instruments? 5. UNEP/CEP should play a key role in facilitating/encouraging countries in the region to become party to SPAW, how effective are they in their role?
6. Examine how the 13 countries in the region that have ratified SPAW are benefiting from the initiative. Speak to representatives of each country and get actual quotes and examples from them.
7. Obtain a copy of the findings of the World Wildlife Fund’s comprehensive study of the condition of Belize’s reef structure. What are the results of the findings in the context of that country’s current noninvolvement in the SPAW initiative and the possible implications for country’s like Jamaica in the region that have not ratified the Protocol. 8. Are regional environmental initiatives such as SPAW useful in protecting the environment and wildlife of countries in the region, or do they just present an additional burden to developing countries that are struggling to enforce new, national environmental legislation? 9. Examine whether SPAW serves the intended purpose in the 13 countries that have ratified the Protocol. 10. Explore endangered species in the region – what have we lost? What species were unique to us that we no longer have in the region?
UN body urges Caribbean to step up care of the regions coral reefs
By Andrea Downer, Freelance Writer
ingston, March 18, 2008, (Panos) - The Caribbean’s tourism sector and governments must take greater responsibility for preserving and protecting the Caribbean’s reefs as they are the bedrock of the region’s tourism, urged a representative of the Caribbean Environment Programme – the regional arm of the United Nations Environment Programme. “Coral reefs are part and parcel of the tourism industry in this region and perhaps no other natural resource is more important for a thriving and sustainable coastal tourism activity,” said Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri, Programme Officer at the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) Regional Co-ordinating Unit. “Damage to the reef not only impacts on the quality of the snorkeling and diving, the beaches and the fisheries but makes the beach properties that much more vulnerable to wave and wind damage during a hurricane.” Vanzella-Khouri explained that during 2008 a special focus had been
declared on the state of the world’s reefs. “The emphasis of International Year of the Reef (IYOR) 2008 in the Caribbean is on the tourism sector,” she said. During the year over 225 organisations in 50 countries will be working together to raise awareness about the value of coral reefs and the threats. Activities throughout the IYOR are geared towards: • Strengthening awareness about the ecological, economic, social and cultural value of coral reefs and associated ecosystems. • Improving understanding of the critical threats to coral reefs and generate both practical and innovative solutions to reduce these threats • Generating urgent action at all levels to develop and implement effective management strategies for conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems.
Reefs at risk
Scientists have warned that warmer seas and a record hurricane season in 2005 have devastated between 20 to 70 per cent of coral reefs in some
Caribbean places. The reefs, which nurture marine life and provide a barrier from ferocious waves during hurricanes, face even more threats from more frequent and stronger hurricanes which scientists have predicted will occur due to climate change. Not to mention the impact from coral diseases and bleaching due to warmer seawater temperatures. In a report published in January 2008, the World Conservation Union warned that this severe damage to reefs would probably become a regular event given current predictions of rising global temperatures due to climate change. Mrs. Vanzella-Khouri suggested actions that could be taken by the tourism industry to assist in the conservation of Caribbean reefs. “They can implement practices that reduce pollution; one of the main things is to put in tertiary treatment plants on big properties as harmful algae overgrows and builds up on the reefs when untreated sewage is discharged into the sea,” she said. She said hoteliers should stick to existing building guidelines (especially those which are internationally accepted) which show how far from the beach facilities should be built. Maintaining the beach’s natural vegetation, she said, was also a better and more cost effective environmental practice than removing the endemic plants and replanting new ones as part of landscaping. She stressed that restoring coastal habitats like mangroves and sea grass beds was a much more expensive and lengthy process than maintaining the integrity of the natural habitat. She added that the region’s government’s needed to enforce regulations to protect the reefs. “Most countries have regulations for Environmental Impact Assessments, (EIAs), which investigate the likely impact of development on the environment and make recommendations as to whether or how such development should take place,” she said. “However, despite the fact that some EIAs advise against some developments, there are times when the governments allow investors to go ahead with the project, ignoring the recommendations of the EIAs or in other instances EIAs are not properly conducted and are biased.” She said that having a united strategy for sustainable tourism in the Caribbean would be helpful by recognizing and highlighting the value added and uniqueness of each destination. It should aim at achieving maximum economic benefits without homogenizing the product,
attracting more quality visitors with more spending power, while protecting the very same natural resource base on which the tourism depends. She recognized the efforts of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation in this regard “For example, in my opinion cruise ship tourism is not appropriate for every island. Building ports for large cruise ships require massive infrastructure which causes serious environmental impacts and puts additional demands on the towns to handle the thousands of people that may arrive on a given day,” she said. “Think that if each cruise ship passenger has just one drink in the town, the extra thousands of tins or cups generated on that day compared to the few dollars left that will not be enough to clean up that trash.” While she recommended dive tourism as a viable option for the region, she said that the success of this venture depended on healthy reefs that in turn will attract a variety of marine life. According to Mrs. Vanzella-Khouri, the Caribbean is the biggest recipient of dive tourism in the world and in addition the majority of tourists choose the Caribbean as a vacation destination because of the region’s beaches and colors in the sea, both resulting from the presence of reefs. However, unless urgent steps are taken to protect what is left of the region’s reefs, the Caribbean stands to lose significantly. “Unfortunately, people can’t appreciate what they don’t know, much less if they can’t see it, reefs are underwater, out of sight, out of mind and this is one of the major challenges we face in communicating the urgency with which the threats to the region’s reef must be addressed,” Mrs. Vanzella-Khouri stated. The World Conservation Union says the only possible way to sustain some live coral on the reefs around the world will be to carefully manage the direct pressures on the reefs such as pollution, fishing and damaging coastal developments, and hope that some coral species are able to adapt to the warmer environment caused by climate change. At the same time, the recent report by the World Conservation Union concluded that a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the next 20 years would be “critical to control further warming and dangerously high CO2 levels that will probably reduce the robustness and competitive fitness of corals and limit the habitats for many other organisms living on Caribbean coral reefs.”
The Caribbean is the biggest recipient of dive tourism in the world... ...unless urgent steps are taken to protect what is left of the region’s reefs, the Caribbean stands to lose significantly.
The Training of Trainers Programme for MPA Managers of the Wider Caribbean
ne of the most important reasons for the management problems in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Caribbean has been the lack of qualified personnel and financial resources. To address this issue, UNEP-CAR/RCU (UNEP Caribbean/Regional Coordination Unit) launched and supported a “Training of Trainers” Programme for MPA managers (TOT), through which managers are not only trained in all aspects of MPA management but also on adult education techniques to conduct local and tailored training activities in their respective MPAs. Since 1999, five Training of Trainers events were organized in different parts of the Caribbean with a total attendance of 61 persons from 28 countries, most of them closely related with MPA management. Specific training materials were developed for these events, particularly an 8 module Course Manual that was adjusted and updated along the process. In 2006 UNEP-CAR/RCU decided to undertake an evaluation of the entire process in order to assess its performance, impact, potential for replication, M&E system and training materials. This evaluation was implemented between February and May 2007.The overall assessment of the TOT Programme on Marine Protected Areas Management is very positive. http://www.cep.unep.org/publications/spaw/totevaluation.pdf The TOT Trainees performed exceedingly well in transferring their acquired skills to other people through different forms of training events. Ninety per cent of the participants who provided information for the evaluation had organized training events. Almost 1,000 people (978 to be precise) were trained by them (alone or jointly with other trainers) in 44 events held in 15 different countries (Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Colombia, Cuba, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, México, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela). As these numbers only account for those participants who provided information through questionnaires and interviews, the actual number should be much larger considering that two out of three participants did not provide information. Even accepting that the reported numbers cannot be extrapolated linearly to the entire population of participants, just the effective numbers presented provide evidence about the highly satisfactory achievement of the Programme in this regard. Since the evaluation was performed a sixth course for Spanish-speaking countries, was held on 9-22 September 2007 in Tulúm, Mexico, and was attended by 14 MPA managers and practitioners from Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, México, Panama, Nicaragua, and Venezuela and additional local courses are underway in these countries. Funding for these courses have been provided by United Nations Environment Programme-Caribbean Environment Programme, the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN) and the John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation, with additional in-kind support from a number of other organizations and institutions. For more information please visit www.cep.unep.org.
Bibliography Burke, Lauretta & Maidens, Jonathan: Reefs at Risk in the Caribbean National Environment & Planning Agency, National Strategy and Action Plan on Biological Diversity in Jamaica, July 2003 United Nations Populations Fund, UNFPA, State of World Population, June 2007.
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Coral reefs provide valuable goods and services to support local and national economies. Degradation of coral reefs can lead to significant economic losses
â€œBy 2015, coral reef degradation could result in annual losses of US$100 million to US$300 million to the Caribbean tourism industry.â€?
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