16 November 2016
A £228,500 Darwin Plus grant has been announced to support UK overseas territories in the Caribbean manage their marine fisheries and develop their fisheries in a sustainable manner as part of wider ambitions to grow the blue economy.
Speaking last week in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, Cefas CEO Tom Karsten and Deputy Premier and Minister of Natural Resources and Labour, Kedrick Pickering announced details of the UK government grant which will deliver a three-year project from the 1st April 2017 in three UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean: the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) and Anguilla.
Minister Pickering of the Government of the Virgin Islands said:
“The grant will support a healthy marine environment, food security, national economies and livelihoods for coastal communities. Cefas’ work under the Darwin project will target fisheries managers and fishers in Caribbean UK Overseas Territories to enhance their skills, knowledge, data and tools to achieve sustainable management of their (individually) commercially important fisheries.”
In the BVI, the Darwin Plus project will assess the current stock of conch and spiny lobsters in the Anegada Horseshoe Reef Fisheries Protected Area, the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean, and one of the largest on earth, to provide more robust data to inform management of the essential fishery. The project will further enable the BVI government to improve data collection and plan for continued sustainable use of these resources. All projects have been developed in collaboration with the relevant UKOT governments to support a legacy of sustainable fisheries and, improved environmental data and management.
The projects will draw on Cefas’ expertise in habitat mapping and fisheries management, to provide a picture of the health of these two critically important marine species and deliver bespoke training to complement national capabilities.
Tom Karsten, Chief Executive of Cefas said:
“Our ongoing relationship with the BVI government has given Cefas the opportunity to begin to understand the complex considerations the BVI government is exploring. I am delighted to formalise our very productive relationship with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and hope it further develops the long-term relations between Cefas and the Government of the Virgin Islands as we work together on future projects.”
Alongside the funding announcement, on the 9th November 2016, a UK–Government of the Virgin Islands Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed, further strengthening the commitment between the UK and BVI to enable sustainable marine management and will serve as a framework for collaboration and exchange of scientific and technical capability. This new collaboration and the upcoming Darwin Plus project, will draw on Cefas’ experience in the region, helping enable the Government of the Virgin Islands’ efforts towards sustainably developing the fisheries sector as a fundamental pillar of their economy. This work will build upon previous and current marine science projects in the region, including previous Darwin Plus work in BVI and Anguilla and Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme activity in Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and Guyana.
Cefas have previously delivered Darwin Plus funded projects in BVI (DPLUS026) and Anguilla (DPLUS045) and have further experience of working in the Caribbean and other small island developing states through the UK government funded Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme.
The Darwin initiative aims to help deliver long-term strategic outcomes for the natural environment in the UK’s Overseas Territories (OTs). More details are available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/darwin-plus-applying-for-projects-in-uk-overseas-territories.
Photo caption: 3D seabed visualisation from the British Virgin Island, created during the recently completed and Cefas led Darwin Plus project, showing the distribution of coral reef features