On June 8th, as the world celebrates World Ocean’s Day, six Eastern Caribbean countries mark their commitment to preserving the region’s extraordinary marine ecosystems by launching the first Eastern Caribbean coral reef report cards.
The Nature Conservancy combined existing data, collected by regional and international scientists, to create individual report cards for six countries. The report cards not only provide information on reefs, but also assess mangrove and seagrass habitats, as well as management strategies to improve these ecosystems. They are a concise, visual and easy-to-understand tool designed to be accessible for audiences from students up to the policy level. The six countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Each report card was created in collaboration with local stakeholders including government partners, and non-governmental organizations.
The report cards were funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety as part of the Climate-Resilient Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network (ECMMAN) project, which aims to build a regional network of marine managed areas.
“Report cards are an effective communication tool to consistently track reef health; show the ability of fully protected areas to support more fish; and raise awareness on the importance of protecting coral reefs” said Patricia Kramer, a coral reef ecologist, who led the data synthesis and development of the ECMMAN Report Cards.
All of the data and report card scores are also available at Carbinode.org, an online mapping tool where users can surf through data and create maps based on their interests. This allows researchers and scientists to access and share data across the region.
Locally, The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society celebrated World Ocean’s Day with a media launch of the St.Kitts and Nevis Coral Reef Report Card. This media launch was held at Fisherman’s Wharf- an ocean themed restaurant that hovers above the Caribbean Sea. The event was chaired by Tricia Greaux, Marine Management Areas and Habitat Monitoring Officer, who opened with the World Ocean’s Day theme for 2015 – 2016, Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet. The ECMMAN Project overview and Caribnote updates were given by Danielle Moore ECMMAN Outreach Officer.
Opening Remarks from Natasha Daniel Assistant Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources, and Cooperatives stressed “The Federal Government of St.Kitts and Nevis has given our support and will ensure the marine area surrounding our twin island federation is properly managed for the benefit of all our citizens, residents and visitors. Hence, it is incumbent on our government to ensure the requisite systems of management and protection are fully established to provide and maintain the livelihoods of our citizens and the sustainability of the resources present in this area. Again, this document is critical to this process. “The vote of thanks was done by Marcia Stubbs, ECMMAN Education and Compliance Officer.
Stakeholders and members of the press were presented with a video explanation of the SKN Coral Reef Report Card. This would be uploaded on some of the DMR’s social media platforms; www.dmrskn.com, https://www.facebook.com/DMRSKN/, and on www.youtube.com DMRSKN. Paraphernalia were distributed promoting the awareness of the proposed Narrows Marine Management Area (the channel between St.Kitts and Nevis). Data monitoring teams from each country will continue to fill gaps in data and update information in future versions of the report card.