(FP)

Cabinet has given its approval and Government is moving ahead with its plan to establish marine managed areas across Barbados to protect the coral reefs and prevent overfishing.

And, it is expected that there will be additional support in policing the island’s waters and water sports zones, once these areas are established.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, made this disclosure as he chaired a meeting on Matters of Standards in the Governance of Small Vessel Operations in the BIDC Building No. 2, recently.

“When we do the marine managed areas, we will have additional support because we are talking about having people patrol the beaches, having more people patrol the waters and using the resources that we generate to manage that space a little more effectively,” he said.

He told those present that the request for proposals for persons to come on board was now closed, and the Ministry would be forging ahead to build out a team to manage the areas.

Mr. Humphrey said a “good few people” had expressed an interest in managing the space along with government, and the intention was to establish a joint partnership and co-management arrangement to do so.

That arrangement, he explained, would see government retaining ultimate control of the space, while the day-to-day management would be assisted through a non-governmental organization or private sector association, whose primary function would be to maintain the space.

In responding to concerns raised about “flat footing” (water sports operators poaching customers), Minister Humphrey said the marine managed areas would “quell” some of that activity.

However, he pointed out that the enforcement of the law was going to be a key factor going forward. “I am hell bent on enforcing the law,” he stated.

The Minister stressed that the legislation was not absent of penalties, and was “quite clear” on a number of things which were not enforced.

Folkestone, St. James. (FP)

Meanwhile, Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Leo Brewster, explained that the marine managed areas were along the west coast stretching from Weston to Fitts Village, St James, and included the Folkestone Marine Reserve.

In the south, the Director said the boundaries stretched from the Pierhead all the way up to Coral Mist (Cacrabank), and measures at the same one to 1.2 kilometres offshore as applied to the west coast.

He explained that “within that management area, because it has been extended, you have the same existing boundaries as at Folkestone.  That is the water sports zone, the research zone and the recreational zone. Then you have fishery replenishment zones, which are supposed to be the areas for no taking fish, and includes the Folkestone Marine Park as a no fishing zone as it exists now,” he said.

Dr. Brewster further noted that Weston was also designated as a fisheries management area at the request of the Weston fisher-folk, who indicated that they wanted to manage their own space.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Esworth Reid, Director of Maritime Affairs, Jacqueline Blackman; and representatives from the Royal Barbados Police Force’s Marine Police Unit, the Barbados Coast Guard, and the Harbour Master and Manager of Marine Service at the Barbados Port Inc., were also in attendance at the meeting.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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