OSLO, Norway: Caribbean islands will create new protected areas for fish and coral reefs under a $70 million plan that will help safeguard tourism-backed economies.
“This is a trust fund for the future benefit of society”, Bahamas Minister of Works and Transport Earl Deveaux said. “Our economy is based on tourism and our great-est natural resource is our environment”.
Inspired by a 2006 plan to protect part of the Pacific Ocean and a “Coral Triangle” project launched in 2007 for southeast Asia, nine Caribbean nations agreed to extend protected areas to 10 percent of their marine and coastal habitats by 2012.
The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines aim to set aside about (32,000 square km (12,500 sq miles), according to the U.S.-based Nature Conservancy which is advising Caribbean governments.
That area is roughly the size of Belgium or the U.S. state of Maryland. The Bahamas will be the largest contributor of protected areas under the “Caribbean Challenge” and aims to set aside 20 percent of marine habitats by 2020.
“In many Caribbean nations at least 50 percent of gross domestic product is derived from tourism,” said Rob Weary of the Nature Conservancy. “Countries are realizing the need to invest in protected areas so tourism can remain the economic engine”. Other Caribbean nations would be asked to join.
1) Curaçao, St. Maarten and the BES-islands should consider to join this effort.
2) For more humanitarian use of the Caribbean Sea, read our article ‘Caribbean Seabed Authority’ at www.arcocarib.com, direct code 458. View also the extraordinary video ‘Peaceful Social Change’, direct code 36.