by Curlan Campbell
- Sustainable Grenadines, Inc. (SusGren) established in 2011 in Carriacou
- Stakeholder engagement part of SusGren 10th annual Grenadines Network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) meeting
- Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute MPA Connect Coordinator Emma Doyle led stakeholder engagement
Sustainable Grenadines, Inc. (SusGren), as part of its 10th annual Grenadines Network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) meeting, brought together local and regional MPA stakeholders, researchers, administrators, managers, and educators from non-governmental organisations, funding agencies and managers, to discuss critical issues about the finance, management and protection of MPAs.
The 4-day stakeholder engagement held 14–17 November at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort was deemed critical as sourcing funding and financing transboundary MPA monitoring and protection remains challenging for local MPA managers.
Since its establishment in 2011 in Carriacou, Grenada, the network has fostered greater collaboration between neighbouring small island developing states of Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines in sharing lessons learned for MPA management.
GIZ Sustainable Marine Financing (SMF) and Grenada Sustainable Development Trust Fund (GSDTF) alongside agencies such as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), through their Coral Reef Conservation Programme, the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) and MPAConnect were instrumental in making this stakeholder engagement possible.
Further funding was sourced from the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF), through the Caribbean Regional Architecture for Biodiversity (CRAB) project through funding from the French Agency for Development (AFD) and Fonds francais pour l’environment Mondial (FFEM).
Leading the engagement was MPA Connect Coordinator of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Emma Doyle, who coordinates MPAConnect, established to foster effective MPA management through the staging of “regional peer-to-peer workshops, site-specific technical support, learning exchanges and direct grant funding” that specifically addresses individual needs of MPAs.
MPAConnect plays a critical role in strengthening capacity by sharing experiences and lessons learned, new technologies and management strategies, and increasing access to relevant information identified by conservation agencies for capacity building in several areas so they can apply and effectively manage funding in the protection of MPAs.
“Often, as conservation organisations, we will have to work with crisis funding. There is never enough funding to go around. Funds are scarce for the environment,” Doyle said. “So we’ve been working hard to determine the right mechanisms, the right mix of strategies, how to access funding that we can apply, how to be most effective and efficient in applying funding for those core activities with communities with ions in terms of law enforcement, but at the same time, we’re also trying to increase the ocean literacy of our financing partners so that they really understand how important reliable, predictable long term unrestricted funding for activities in the environmental field.”
The St Vincent and the Grenadines Conservation Fund (SVGCF) was established in 2015 to address this existing funding gap by providing funding for the conservation, protection and maintenance of biodiversity.
CEO of SVGCF Vanburn Harry acknowledged that MPAs need to generate revenue and become self-financed. One of the ways to do so is to charge entry and mooring fees to vessels entering the MPAs, but this will require the necessary enforcement of legislation. “Majority of MPAs have draft legislations in place already, policies and regulation, but need to be officially adopted, passed and gazetted so that they can have legal status… The legality of it is what is missing most of the time to do that and also enforcement of the legislation. That’s where it starts. And when you think of enforcement, you think of resources, financial resources, and human resources to be able to carry out those enforcement activities,” he said.
CEO of the St Lucia National Conservation Fund Craig Henry stated that the stakeholder engagement with MPA managers not only provided greater insight into understanding their unique challenges in submitting appropriate costings for accessing funding for projects, but has also allowed funders to strategise with them to increase their knowledge of project proposal which can increase their chances of being granted funding.
“This workshop gave me a better perspective on how it is that conservation managers in MPA determine the resources, and of course a genuine approach in terms of scoping out the activities and of matching them with an appropriate cost. As you would recognise, MPA managers and conservation areas and marine parks managers will come to us for funding for various conservation projects. And often enough, what we ask them is to put together in a proposal concept. It is in our interest to work with these MPA managers to understand what it is that they’re trying to do, but also, there’s a practical reality that we don’t have an exhaustive amount of funds. So, therefore, it is important to have confidence that whatever concepts they have conceptualised in their projects or proposal design, is grounded in proper estimations and realistic goals with regards to what can be done,” Henry explained.
Manager of the Sandy Island/Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area (SIOBMPA) Jody Placid believes this workshop is quite timely as MPA managers seek sustainable solutions to many management challenges. “We get funding from the government. The government pays our salaries and takes care of fuel and maintenance and operational costs. But although we appreciate what they give us, it just isn’t enough to effectively manage the area. So I would say we’re kind of struggling in terms of the management of the MPA. But the government now is actively revising the status of MPAs and I think they’re going to make some good changes in the future,” Placid said.
17 November 2023 marked the 12th anniversary of The Grenadines Network of Marine Protected Areas, and, as part of this commemoration, MPA managers reaffirmed their commitment by signing an agreement to continue supporting the network’s overarching goals. Representatives for the following MPAs signed:
- Grenada Marine Protected Areas (GMPAs) which include (Woburn/Clarkes Court Bay MPA, Grand Anse MPA, Moliniere/Beausejour MPA, and Gouyave MPA)
- Sandy Island/Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area (SIOBMPA)
- Tobago Cays Marine Park (TCMP)
- South Coast Marine Conservation Area (SCMCA)
- Sustainable Grenadines Inc. (SusGren) for Ashton Lagoon Marine Conservation Area
- Mustique Marine Conservation Area (MMCA)
Executive Director of SusGren and lead for the GNMPA Orisha Joseph the co-host for the event, emphasised it is critical to continue to collaborate for effective MPA management. “It’s important that we understand that MPAs are one of the important foundations of the blue economy, and it is critical that we balance conservation and biodiversity protection with sustainable economic growth.”