To improve information and resource sharing among managers, scientists, communities and youths, for increased participation in decision-making regarding coral reef management.
To build capacity of youths for advocacy, and incorporate coral reef biodiversity conservation and management into the primary schools curricula.
To strengthen community and stakeholder participation in management planning and monitoring of coral reefs and associated biodiversity.
To assist in mobilizing financial resources for conservation and management of coral reefs in the long-term.
The Caribbean region is endowed with a rich biodiversity heritage, which includes some of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world such as, mangal forests and extensive coral reefs. Valuable ecosystems such as the coral reefs are degrading rapidly under the mounting pressure of many human activities in addition to natural causes. Coastal development, land clearance, intensive agriculture and over-fishing all contribute coral reef degradation. There is growing concern, however, that the accelerating degradation and loss of these resources would result in significant hardship for coastal populations, nations, and economies.
Barbados is not immune to these various mounting pressures; in fact coral reef degradation is a serious issue, especially in light of the fact that Barbados’s economy and many livelihoods are heavily dependent upon tourism. Barbados’ total reef area is estimated at 90 km2 (Burke and Maidens 2004) .
The recent Reefs at Risk analysis suggests that all the reefs around Barbados are threatened by human activities. The west and south coasts have been identified as having significant anthropogenic threats (GOB, 2002). All the reefs were rated as threatened by over fishing and coastal development. Barbados is densely populated and has experienced a rapid increase in coastal development, particularly due to tourism. This increased development consequently degrades the marine environment.
The Folkestone Marine Park, located on the west coast of Barbados, occupies a 2.2 km no-take zoned marine area on one of the most heavily used marine spaces in Barbados. It is the only legislated marine protected area on the island. The area comprises of unique coastal habitats including: fringing and patch reefs; endangered hawksbill turtle nesting sites and remnants of rare mangrove ecosystems
(AXYS Environmental Consulting (Barbados) Inc. March 2000).
The coral reefs in the reserve are impacted mainly by eutrophication and suspended particulate matter in the water column; reduction of grazing pressure due to decrease in herbivorous sea urchin and low abundance of herbivorous reef fish resulting in increased algal abundance, which results in coral diseases. The low abundance of reef fishes and the decrease in sea urchin was attributed to over fishing and disease–induced mortality respectively. Qualitative observations also suggest that anchor and snorkel damage are important localized impacts on reefs within Folkestone. An additional impact on reefs is selective coral harvesting (less intensive than in the past and now illegal). The reserve is also a foraging and nesting ground for endangered marine turtles, however it is evident that pleasure crafts and cruises as an attraction are provisioning of sea turtles (feeding turtles as a tourist attraction). Additionally the nesting success of endangered marine turtles is constrained by beach habitat quality and beach front lighting.
There has been evidence of conflicts between divers and fishers particularly related to stealing of fishes and opening of fish pots to release fishes. Fishers also feel that the reserve detrimentally affects their fish catches due to regulatory restrictions. In the establishment of the reserve, the most significant omission was the failure of the government and others to actively consult with the users of the area. The lack of consultation and involvement of fisher folk in the establishment and management of the reserve resulted in a lasting, deep-rooted resentment of the reserve by local residents today (AXYS Environmental Consulting (Barbados) Inc. March 2000).
Recognising the aforementioned issues and concerns, the CCA has taken the step towards promoting responsible behaviour and improved management of the coral reef and associated resources through the participatory community involvement.
The project is an approach to engage involvement of community user groups in participating and addressing the key direct impacts on the resource and community concerns identified above.
Folkestone Marine Reserve, St. James, Barbados
Project start date: February 2006
Local communities, Government, Local NGOs, Private sector and International Organisations