With 19.7 square kilometers spanning from the entrance to the St. George’s Harbour to the Airport in Point Salines, the Grand Anse Marine Protected Area (MPA) has been launched as the largest MPA on the island.
It was launched last Friday at a ceremony held at the Grand Anse Beach that was attended by Minister with responsibility for Forestry and Fisheries, Alvin Dabreo.
The Grand Anse MPA will encompass the entire Grand Anse reef complex including both the inner reef and the outer barrier reef.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Dabreo said the MPA will be divided into eight different zones in which specific activities would be permitted to avoid any confusion.
He stated that the primary rationale for the establishment of the MPA is “to minimise the historical and current conflict to the areas, the proper disposal of fish and fish processing along the beach”.
According to Minister Da Breo, another important aspect is to address the unregulated anchoring of boats within area resulting in damage to the marine eco-system, as well as the lack of demarcation zones for swimming and motorised water sports.
In addition, he said the hope is to put measures in place to address what he referred to as “the inadequate compliance and enforcement of the existing rules and regulation, the improperly supervised coastal development which may have adverse impact on the marine environment…”.
He spoke of the benefits that can accrue from the MPA such as protecting and enhancing the area as a habitat for key fishes as well as other aquatic flora and fauna, and to enhance and maintain the marine resources for sustainable livelihoods.
Minister DaBreo identified the benefits from the establishment of the MPA as the creation of a fish sanctuary, the putting in place of measures to regulate boat anchoring within the area to minimise anchor damage.
He also said that the system will now put in place better controls for activities around Grand Anse Beach like swimming and motorised and non-motorised water sports activities.
These activities, he said would now “be properly zoned and the areas would be demarcated and imposed to reduce user conflict”.
Chief Fisheries Officer, Crafton Isaac also addressed the issue out of recognition that the operation of the Grand Anse MPA will be more complex as compared to other MPAs around the island.
He stressed the need for the implementation of a management plan for the area.
Isaac said: “There are so many different users and there are so many investors investing millions in this small space, the power of vested interest becomes very great and you have to be very, very wise in your decision-making to ensure that the views and feelings and position of all users based … are taken into consideration when coming up with a management plan for this place.
“..The benefits will include eco-system protection or bio-diversity protection, livelihood protection – we have to protect our livelihoods whether they are in the tourism sector or the fisheries sector or any sector that uses this place here.
“We have to ensure that the livelihoods are protected – management must be adopted, that is to say the management plan, including the zoning is not set in stone, circumstances change and when circumstances change, people change…
“So, what may be okay today, six months down the road we may have to come back and adjust.”
The process to establish the MPA begun in 2015 with financial support from the Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Area Network (ECMMAN) with the physical assessment of the conditions of the marine resources along the Grand Anse reef complex.