The five-year initiative is also aimed at promoting conservation in high priority areas across the Caribbean; improving the management of marine protected areas (MPAs); reducing threats to the environment including coral reefs, mangroves, and sea grass beds; strengthening fisheries management, and promoting sustainable livelihoods for coastal residents in four seascapes across five countries.
United States Ambassador to Barbados and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Larry Palmer officially launched the Grenadine Bank component of the CMBP on August 21.
In reiterating the US government’s commitment to protecting the region’s key marine areas, Ambassador Palmer emphasized, “While we appreciate the tremendous beauty of this Grenadine seascape, we are very mindful that it is currently under threat.”
He stressed that while the Caribbean region had been described as one of the world’s most important biodiversity centres, its biodiversity was being degraded “at an alarming rate,” with coral reef coverage reduced by nearly one-third since the 1980s.
“Several reef-building species are acutely endangered or at risk of extinction. These changes have had an increasingly negative impact on the ability of the reefs to remain healthy, such as spawning grounds and natural barriers that protect against storm surges and sea level rise.”
He added, “Economic sectors like tourism and fisheries, which depend heavily upon the quality of the marine environment, are particularly affected.”
The CMBP is primarily funded through a US$10 million investment by USAID, with an additional US$2.5 million contribution by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which leads an NGO consortium charged with its implementation.