Environment

Pedro Cays to become protected area

BY LUKE DOUGLAS Observer senior reporter douglasl@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, June 13, 2012    

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THE Pedro Cays is to become a marine protected area following the signing of an agreement between the Jamaican Government and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Jamaica.

The move forms part of an effort to replenish the fish stock in Jamaica and the Caribbean region, explained Nelson Andrade Colmenares, co-ordinator of the UNEP regional co-ordinating unit which is based in downtown Kingston.

"We are working very hard with the Government to declare the Pedro Cays a marine protected area," Colmenares said at this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange. "The reason is that the fish in Jamaica are being depleted and unless we protect some areas so that the fish can recuperate, we are going to be in serious trouble. So the next step is to protect the area for a while."

The UNEP representative said the protection of the Pedro Cays was being done within the Land Marine Ecosystem Project, being implemented together with the Inter-governmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

The project also involves an area off the coast of the Dominican Republic as well as the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, located between Colombia and Jamaica.

"We are looking at the ecosystem in a large manner. If we (continue to) deplete the fish stock, it's going to affect all of us," Colomares said.

The Pedro Cays are four small islands situated on the Pedro Bank about 66 kilometres (40 miles) south of Portland Point, the southernmost tip of Clarendon.

The Pedro Cays are best known as a fishing resource area which is occupied by hundreds of fisherfolk. The cays are also considered one of the last remaining healthy marine ecosystems and an important nesting ground for several species of birds and turtles.

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