JAMAICA is among the five Caribbean islands to benefit from the Caribbean Fish Sanctuary Partnership Initiative (C-FISH), a new project of the CARIBSAVE Partnership intended to safeguard fish sanctuaries, also known as marine reserves or marine protected areas (MPAs).
The other islands are Grenada, St Lucia, Dominica, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
"Jamaica was selected to receive support from the C-FISH initiative because of the commitment the Government has made towards establishing a network of 14 fish sanctuaries and the active participation and support of local stakeholders, in particular non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, fishermen's co-operatives as well as private foundations linked to the tourism sector, such as the Sandals Foundation and the Oracabessa Foundation," said a release from CARIBSAVE.
Scientists have known for some time that successful MPAs can generate significant environmental, social and economic benefits, in particular with regards to supporting sustainable reef fisheries and high-value tourism.
"The best examples of these can be found in Belize, but word is spreading across the Caribbean's fishing communities and an increasing number of Jamaican fishermen are becoming aware that fish sanctuaries can help increase their catch in the surrounding areas and rebuild the dwindling stocks of reef fish," the release said.
"The challenge is to ensure that the new Jamaican fish sanctuaries continue to be managed effectively with robust enforcement of the regulations, widespread public education programmes and regular monitoring," it added.
The C-FISH initiative will support the efforts of the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, the University of the West Indies, the National Environment and Planning Agency and other members of the Jamaican Fish Sanctuaries Network to improve the management of fish sanctuaries and to establish private-public partnerships with stakeholders in the tourism sector.
"The role of the tourism sector is particularly important in supporting the financial sustainability of these fish sanctuaries and it is hoped that international tourists visiting Jamaica will play their part and contribute to local efforts to rebuild the stocks of fish and preserve the island's marine biodiversity," the release said.
The CARIBSAVE Partnership is establishing a new fund (the C-FISH Fund) with support from Virgin Holidays, the Travel Foundation and the Sandals Foundation in order to provide long-term financial sustainability to Caribbean fish sanctuaries.
The main objectives of the C-FISH Initiative are:
* to provide financial and technical support for the management of community-based marine protected areas (MPAs);
* to promote public awareness of the environmental, social and economic benefits that MPAs can generate in Caribbean countries;
* to promote alternative livelihoods in fishing communities and build mutually beneficial linkages between the tourism and fisheries sectors; and
* to facilitate stakeholder participation and to monitor the effectiveness of MPA management.
"One of the first priorities of the C-FISH initiative is to obtain accurate and scientifically sound data on the status of the fish inside the sanctuaries. Monitoring is essential to ensure that management is meeting its objectives and to maintain the support of donors and stakeholders," the release said.
As part of the need to establish practical and effective monitoring programmes, the C-FISH team held a workshop on June 20 at Long Acre, St Elizabeth to demonstrate the Community-based Live Fish Monitoring method (CLIF) that will be implemented throughout this programme.
"This method is designed to be used by wardens and supporting fishermen utilises a natural anaesthetic allowing biomass data to be collected, and the fish returned unharmed to the ocean. It involves collaboration between the fishers, community members, government, scientists and the C-FISH team," the release noted.
The first of two introductory CLIF monitoring workshops, was well represented by eight organisations, including UWI.
C-FISH is funded by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID) through the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.
The CARIBSAVE Partnership is implementing the project on behalf of DFID and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and will be opening an office in Kingston to oversee this four-year project.
UKaid is committed to supporting community-based MPAs because of the economic benefits they can provide to vulnerable communities and because they also increase the resilience of coastal ecosystems and rural livelihoods to the increasing impacts of climate change.