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Eastern Caribbean shares research findings on Marine Environment Reserves

The findings of a US-funded research project on the Soufriere / Scott’s Head Marine Reserve (SSMR) in Dominica will be one of the highlights in a regional policy discussion in Rouseau, Dominica on Tuesday, July 20. The research was done by the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) – a leading US conservation organisation with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The discussion will examine the lessons from the Soufriere / Scott’s Head Marine Reserve which is one of only two legislated locally managed marine areas in the Eastern Caribbean. Some of the recommendations coming out of the research are: Get a legal-administrative review of SSMR / Local Area Management Authority (LAMA) legislation, by-laws and procedures to fix inconsistencies and ensure all are in place to support the new management plan.
Re-structure the LAMA to have a small executive board of core stakeholders surrounded by a broader stakeholder advisory group, both of which have clear terms of reference. Develop a communications strategy and plan for the LAMA after doing communication needs and capacity assessments to determine what is needed and the capacity to deliver it. Network the LAMA closely with community and business development agencies that can assist in meeting the needs of the residents without overburdening the LAMA with demands. Establish a SSMR Foundation or something similar as a means of growing revenue not to be immediately spent and channelling any excess funds into community development activities. The research was done over a 9 month period and will be completed by September 2010. On Monday, July 19, the researchers met with community and other stakeholders to get feedback on the findings. Tuesday’s regional panel discussion will further highlight how to communicate the project findings to policymakers and other key audiences. Speakers for Tuesday’s regional panel discussion include: Andrew Magloire, Chief Fisheries Officer, Dominica Fisheries Division, Patrick McConney, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados, Nicole Leotaud, Executive Director, Caribbean Natural Resources Institute, (CANARI) (Trinidad), Indi Mclymont-Lafayette, Regional Director of Media and Environment, Panos Caribbean (Jamaica), Roland Baldeo, MPA Coordinator, Grenada Fisheries Division The discussion will be held at the Dominica Fisheries Division in Rouseau. Following the workshop, fieldwork and communication exercises in Dominica the next phase will be the application of lessons to Grenada. The findings of the Local Area Management Project (LAMP) will ultimately be used to advance the work being carried out by TNC’s Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Threat Abatement in the Eastern Caribbean Project, which is being funded through a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The TNC’s primary strategy is to help countries meet and then exceed their commitments to the Program of Work for Protected Areas (PoWPA) under the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) that will result in an effectively managed network of marine protected areas. About 4% of the Eastern Caribbean’s marine shelf is under some form of protection. However, less than 20% of these areas are judged to be effectively managed. According to the TNC in order to improve the management of marine biodiversity resources there must be increased capacity for managing the marine environment. It urges the implementation of policies and regulations that support management of marine biodiversity, economic development, benefit sharing and involvement of users in biodiversity management.