CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (August 15, 2006)
Fishermen on Nevis will reap major benefits from marine protected areas when they are implemented later this year. Director of Fisheries on Nevis Mr. Arthur Anslyn told the Government Information Service that though fishermen would not be prohibited from fishing in those areas in the St. Kitts and Nevis Channel, they would not be restricted.
During an interview on Monday August 14, 2006, Mr Anslyn explained that once the protected areas are in place it would have ecological value. It would also provide protection for the island’s conch industry, which contributes at least EC$5000,000. annually to the Nevis economy and the coral reefs in the St. Kitts and Nevis Channel. Also water sports activities would be better controlled because there would be designated areas for swimming which would not result in user conflict.
“We have a general management area that would include St Kitts and Nevis. Inside this general management marine area, we can then designate other areas. Within this area we will have conch nurseries, fish nurseries, coral reefs, water sport activities, anchorage for boats and we have several other activities taking place within this general area, so each one of these areas will have its own set of regulations protecting it.
“Once the area is established for instance the conch nursery that would be closed off because all that is in that area is juvenile conches. The mooring aspect of it will be buoys, placed there as part of moorings that will be used by yachts and it will be mandatory that they use these moorings. There will be a user fee collected for the maintenance of these moorings. So you will find that right now where the anchors are damaging the sea grass beds and also the coral reef, this will be the conservation part of it. They [yachts] will no longer be allowed to drop anchor and damage the sea grass bed or the coral,” Mr Anslyn explained.
The Fisheries Director said he was a part of a recent planning meeting organised by the Ministry of Tourism on St. Kitts along with other stakeholders to begin preparations.
Notwithstanding, Mr Anslyn said he had already held meetings with fishers particularly conch divers on Nevis, some of who have not fully understood the concept of marine protection. He said he hoped to keep follow up meetings and also embark on a public awareness drive through the media for the benefit of all stakeholders.
“We will be holding meetings with the fishers especially the divers. We have held one meeting with the conch divers already and we have indicated to them that we are going to proclaim those areas and some of them have not fully understood but I think we will have to keep some more meetings to explain to them exactly what is involved in those areas,” he said.