While speaking at a consultation on the establishment of a National Maritime Policy and Action Plan he added that such a concept must include the need for a healthy, productive and biologically diverse marine environment, involving coral reefs, while at the same time encouraging economic opportunities which can contribute to more sustainable livelihoods, and secure human settlements in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Skerritt also said that there is a need for an integrated approach that marries environmental management directly with economic, fiscal and social policy and objectives.
He told stakeholders that it will take a harmonised and integrated vision that requires fundamental changes in the way the marine and maritime spaces in St. Kitts and Nevis are managed and regulated at the Federal and local levels.
Mr. Skerritt said St. Kitts and Nevis can no longer afford to live with dis-jointed sector policies for managing these resources and that existing policies will have to be subsidiary to the principles and standards of a common National Maritime Policy.
“The objectives, programmes and measures to manage the marine environment and its resources will be developed in such a way that the different objectives, programmes and measures are mutually compatible across all the agencies in St. Kitts and Nevis which have a role in managing the ocean,” Mr. Skerritt told participants.
He suggested the need to facilitate a more harmonised front in the work and pursuits of the Department of Maritime Affairs, Department of Marine Resources and Fisheries on both islands, the Coast Guard, the Department of Physical Planning and the Environment on both islands, Department of Customs and Excise, Hoteliers, Dive Operators, Fishers and Boat operators.
Mr. Skerritt called for the creation of a culture which seeks to embrace the principles of Agenda 21 of the Rio Declaration of 1992 appealing for an ecosystem integrated management approach to the management of the ocean.
He said that the Department of Maritime Affairs is now working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Marine Resources and thus the convening of the National Consultation which he hopes will create a road map with clear roles and responsibilities for all these agencies and stakeholders.
It also helps to implement the decision of the OECS Heads following the 54th Meeting on January 12, 2012 on developing a regional approach to ocean governance.
“As you deliberate and seek to carve out the future for ocean governance in St. Kitts and Nevis, be assured that my Ministry, in partnership with all other government ministries will continue to create the environment for sustainable use of the seas around us, and continue to push vigorously to fulfil our obligations as a responsible flag, port and coastal state under the framework of the United Nation Convention on the law of the Sea,” said Minister Skerritt.