Contributed by Dr. Sherry Constantine, TNC Caribbean
The Climate-Resilient Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network (ECMMAN) project ended in October 2017. ECMMAN has successfully laid a foundation that will continue to improve the way Eastern Caribbean countries manage the marine and coastal resources that define their islands and sustain their economies. ECMMAN provided communities and government agencies in St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada with the funding, training and tools necessary to create a more sustainable future for these vital resources and the people who rely on them.
The project successfully established 2 new MMAs – the Grand Anse Marine Protected Area in Grenada and the St. Kitts and Nevis Marine Management Area– and began processes for the completion of a marine spatial plan in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Through a small grants program, Government agencies in collaboration with local NGOs were provided with funding that helped increase the management effectiveness of 17 MMAs across the 6 ECMMAN countries.
Nineteen (19) successful sustainable and/or alternative livelihood project proposals were developed and implemented with a total of 23 beneficiaries, while another 2 proposal applicants received assistance in capacity building to assist them with project development for their initiatives. A total of 146 fishers were trained in several topics relevant to improving marine conservation and sustainable fishing practices and 31 fishers participated in two fisher exchanges – one to the Tobago Cays Marine Park in 2015 and the second to MMAs across Belize in 2016.
Under ECMMAN, the “this is who we are” regional awareness campaign produced regionally and internationally acclaimed campaign songs and music videos including St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ popular song and video, which won an international “Indiefest” Award. Other campaign activities included school visits, beach clean ups, movie nights, mural painting, lionfish tastings, art and photo competitions, beauty contests with marine conservation themes, exhibitions, animated public service announcements, and quizzes.
ECMMAN provided extensive training, tools and equipment to MMA managers and stakeholders on relevant topics allowing these persons to be better equipped to help monitor and manage their MMAs and the natural resources present. A total of 35 persons were trained to complete socioeconomic assessments and another 33 in coral reef and associated habitat monitoring techniques. These persons have been organized into national monitoring teams with responsibility to continue assessments after the ECMMAN project. Thus, the continuation of the work started under ECMMAN will ensure continuous, up-to-date information on the status of the socioeconomic environment and marine resources in each of the 6 countries.
Six (6) first-of-its-kind Coral Reef Report Cards that assess the health of coral reef, mangrove and seagrass ecosystems at a national and localized level were produced. These report cards provide decision makers with key indicators to guide policy and management decisions, and include recommendations on priority areas for monitoring. The report cards were published on Caribnode, which is a repository for marine and nearshore ecosystem data from across the Eastern Caribbean. Caribnode also allows users the ability to produce interactive maps and query the data contained to answer specific marine conservation questions.
ECMMAN also supported the establishment of National Conservation Trust Funds in Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Grenada. The Trust Funds will develop local revenue streams as well as access regional endowment funds and funnel money to local organizations through small grants. These Trust Funds will be used for marine conservation and climate adaptation initiatives in each country.
In collaboration with an extensive network of partners, the ECMMAN project significantly changed the ability of small islands in the Eastern Caribbean to manage their marine and coastal resources more responsibly. The network built a foundation for a sustainable future through new economic opportunities, more informed resource use, extensive public awareness activities and innovative tools intended to improve decision making about MMA management. Throughout the region, the project increased overall support for the designation of MMAs as a promising way to preserve natural beauty, create jobs, and bring communities together toward a common goal of sustainable development in harmony with conservation.
ECMMAN was funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). It was implemented by TNC in collaboration with each respective participating country and four partner organizations (the OECS Commission; UNEP/SPAW-RAC acting through the Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Managers (CaMPAM) network; the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations (CNFO) acting through the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Secretariat; and PCI Media Impact).