DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES NEMMA PROJECT WILL LAY MOORINGS AT GREEN ISLANDWednesday 23rd March 2011
Antigua and Barbuda’s Department of Fisheries is currently working on a project in the vicinity of Green Island off Antigua’s east coast that will see the laying of several mooring buoys for yachts that visit the island. The moorings project is part of the North East Marine Management Area (NEMMA) located on the north east coast of Antigua, stretching from Beggar’s Point in the north to Friar’s Head in the south.
The Area comprises approximately 28 named islands and a number of other unnamed cays and rocky crops. NEMMA was declared a Marine Reserve under the Fisheries Act in December 2005. A major purpose of its designation as a Marine Reserve is to manage fisheries as well as to conserve the historical, cultural, economic and biological diversity contained in it.
Currently, the Protected Area has multiple uses including wilderness, residences, hotels, restaurants, fisheries, recreational and tourism related activities.
NEMMA surrounds over 30 square miles of coastal and marine resources and varies in range to over 50 metres above sea level. The area is described as a refuge for endemic, rare and globally important wildlife, and provides a home to numerous endemic and globally threatened species including the seriously endangered Antigua racer snake, the hawksbill turtle and the vulnerable West Indian Whistling Duck.
There exists a wide range of marine resources and ecosystems in NEMMA. To that extent, some of its significant features include coral reefs, fringing mangroves and sea grass beds.
NEMMA has been set up to advance the following objectives:
1. To protect and preserve the biodiversity, heritage and archaeological resources of the Area;
2. To provide a framework for sustainable management and use of the resources of the Area.
It is one of six sites located in six OECS States, which has been earmarked to benefit from the new regime for protected area management which will be introduced or, in some cases strengthened, through the OECS Protected Area and Associated Livelihoods (OPAAL) Project.
The OPAAL project is a developmental initiative that seeks to conserve the biodiversity of global importance in the participating countries of the OECS by removing barriers to the effective management of protected areas and through increased involvement of civil society and the private sector in the planning, management and sustainable use of these areas.
The project represents the first phase of a proposed 15-year program, whose end-goal is to create an integrated system of protected areas among the OECS Member States, which will protect and conserve ecologically-sustainable, representative samples of the region’s rich biodiversity endowment, while creating sustainable livelihoods for communities in and around the protected areas.
Although there is a high level of activity and use of the resources by locals and tourists, there are no named personnel dedicated to coordinating the affairs of NEMMA. As such, there is an absence of 24-hour patrolling of the area, which is compounded by lack of resources, lack of information about the value of the Site as a Protected Area of global importance, and lack of public education on the regulations of the Site.
“The majority of reports suggest that the marine environment of the North East coast is in significantly depleted state . . . . The declining state of natural reefs coupled with the economic importance of fishing and snorkeling in the area suggests that ongoing marine monitoring and strong conservation measures should be instituted” (Jackson 2007).
As a result, the Department of Fisheries has initiated its moorings project which will be underway soon in the Green Island area. More information and details about this very important project will be made available in the very near future.
Information compliments of Antigua and Barbuda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & the Environment.
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