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Officials meet to strengthen enforcement in Marine Protected Areas

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Park officials and managers, and police, coast guard, and enforcement officials from Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines met this week in St. George’s, Grenada,{{more}} to train together and share experiences in the enforcement of marine protected areas (MPAs) rules and regulations

Enforcement officials joined environmental officials from across the Grenadines in St. George’s Grenada, from November 29 to December 2, 2011, to promote compliance and enforcement in the region’s marine protected areas. At a workshop developed and presented by the Grenada Fisheries Division, Sustainable Grenadines Incorporated (SusGren Inc.), the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), the Grenada Coast Guard, and the Grenada Department of Public Prosecutions, officers from Grenada Marine Protected Areas Network (GMPA), the National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority, and the Tobago Cays Marine Park (TCMP) of St. Vincent and the Grenadines held a Marine Protected Areas Enforcement Training Workshop learned fundamental principles and technical enforcement skills.

“The training comes at a crucial time for shoreline habitats in the Grenadines,” said Director of SusGren Inc., Martin Barriteau. The coastal and marine environment—coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests of the Caribbean—are essential for local livelihoods, food security, protection from natural hazards, and tourism. These critical ecosystems are threatened by overfishing, pollution, poaching, and climate change. Protecting coastal and marine resources is critical for the sustainable development of the countries of the Caribbean. Indeed, marine protected areas seek to conserve marine biodiversity, ensure protection of valuable fisheries resources, and provide the basis for sustainable alternative livelihoods for coastal communities.

This landmark training course brought together wardens and rangers from Sandy Island/Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area, Moliniere/Beausejour Marine Protected Area, and the Tobago Cays Marine Park, to learn the basics of law enforcement and technical environmental issues. The wardens and rangers applied their new knowledge in an at-sea practical exercise. They practiced apprehension, arrest, and gathering evidence for enforcement proceedings. The course was completed with wardens and rangers presenting their cases in a mock trial, complete with prosecutors and a magistrate. ASP Osmond Griffith said, “The Grenadian Police and Coast Guard are committed to supporting the work of the wardens and the promotion of the MPA.”

Andrew Lockhart, Superintendent of National Parks in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said: “This workshop is part of an important ongoing effort to enable protected areas officials in the Grenadines to collaboratively protect our shared resources through compliance and enforcement.” The Enforcement Workshop was a follow-up to the Caribbean Environment Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP) and the Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Management Network and Forum (CaMPAM) Training-of-Trainers course in Marine Protected Areas Planning and Management held September 2011 in Belize. The training is also an important element of the “Strengthening Reef Management in the Grenada Bank Project” training programme currently being implemented by SusGren Inc. and the three marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Grenadines.

Both courses were funded by the Directorate General of International Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United States National Fish and Wildlife Service (NFWF) in support of the ‘Caribbean Challenge’ initiative. The funding will assist with the establishment of a fully ecologically-representative, climate change resilient, and functional network of marine protected areas in the Caribbean. Additional support was provided by the Fisheries Division of Grenada and SusGren Inc.

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