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Fish protection - Jamaica Conservation Partners donates US$45K to develop Jamaica’s fish sanctuary network

Published:Friday | March 8, 2019 | 12:00 AM
From left: Denise Henry, marine biologist at Alligator Head Foundation (AHF); Anna Ward, executive director of the C.B. Facey Foundation; and Dayne Buddo, marine biologist and CEO of AHF, are all smiles as they get ready to go on a tour of the East Portland Fish Sanctuary recently.
National Geographic’s David Lang displays one of the two Open-ROVs (underwater-swimming camera) which he donated to the Alligator Head Foundation on a tour of the East Portland Fish Sanctuary recently.
Participants were secured in life-jackets for an Alligator Head Foundation tour of the Portland Fish Sanctuary, which begins in a boat ride along the east Portland coastline.
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The Jamaica Conservation Partners (JCP), a project of the C.B. Facey Foundation, has awarded a US$45,000 grant over two years to the Alligator Head Foundation (AHF) to implement a system that would unify and sustainably develop fish sanctuaries across Jamaica.

The AHF believes in taking a collaborative approach to protecting fish stocks, restoring habitats and regenerating local economies. To that end, the team identifies and delivers innovative solutions to strengthen policy for ecosystem resilience and adaptation to climate change at the national, regional and global levels.

In 2018, the AHF became the secretariat for all the fish sanctuaries in Jamaica and now leads the national system in which they coordinate and share best practices, prepare joint funding proposals, as well as measure and document successes achieved throughout the network.

During a visit to the AHF, Anna Ward, executive director of the C.B. Facey Foundation, said the development of a national fish sanctuary network is a worthy cause.

“This grant from the JCP allows the AHF to connect the fish sanctuaries in a scientific and coordinated way. Today, we are here to see the benefit of our support of the AHF, the community and other fish sanctuaries islandwide,” she said.

WORKING TOGETHER AS A SYSTEM

Alligator Head Foundation CEO Dayne Buddo welcomed the grant and emphasised the necessity of “everyone coming together and working in a coordinated way, as the fish do not know the boundaries that we do as humans; they move.

“So, what is happening or not happening in one fish sanctuary affects the other. Therefore, the grant facilitates us working together as a system to protect certain areas, and we are very grateful for this opportunity,” Buddo said.

Established in 2016, the AHF supports the East Portland Fish Sanctuary and the research efforts of the Alligator Head Marine Lab. It also initiated projects to assist the communities dependent on marine resources for their livelihood through the development of ecotourism and sustainable livelihood programmes.

“Over the past two years, we have been actively engaged in the community. We have done restoration activities, from planting corals on the reef to planting mangroves on the coastline. There has been some success over the last two years, where we have recorded a 200 per cent increase in the amount of fish in the sanctuary,” Buddo said.

He urged Jamaicans to play their part in the marine conservation process.

“You do not have to be a marine scientist to help with marine conservation,” he said. “Something as simple as choosing a fish that is more sustainable, rather than consuming parrot fish, which is so important to protecting the reefs, is helping. All it takes is a change in behaviour; and choosing to do good does not cost money; it saves money. We all have a part to play in protecting our fish sanctuaries,” he added.