Case study HELPWatch
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CORAL MANAGEMENT IN ST LUCIA
Coral reefs require very specific conditions to flourish (e.g. light, shallow waters 25m in depth, temperature of 23–25˙, saline, well oxygenated water) and are biodiverse ecosystems found between the tropics.
However they face several threats on a global scale – e.g. ocean acidification, global warming, coral bleaching, invasive species – as well as local threats e.g. careless tourism, pollution, reef mining, overfishing, and harmful fishing practices.
St. Lucia is an island that has experienced conflict between its stakeholders (local fishermen, tourism industries, businesses, residents, environmentalists, tourists), and resolved how best to use the coastline.
St Lucia’s SMMA Agency zoned the 11km coral reef stretch under threat into marine reserves, recreational reserves, yachting zones, fishing zones, and all purpose zones, in order to both protect and profit from the reefs. In addition to zoning, new regulations were put into practice to decrease the unsustainable exploitation of resources provided by the reef ecosystem.
The marine reserves were strictly for the protection and scientific study of the ecosystem, and as such strict rules were enforced here. Additionally in order to reverse the damage done to the reefs, conservation schemes were started e.g. coral gardening (also happens in Fiji) to encourage the growth of new coral.
Recreational zones had stricter rules for pollution and sedimentation, and there were more fines for careless tourism (e.g. breaking off coral). Yachting zones were in places with lower reef density or deeper reefs to minimise destruction.
Fishing quotas were implemented and limited to those with passes e.g. locals who lived off subsistence farming / fishing / agriculture.
Rarer species (endangered species and those native to St Lucia only) were put on a list of banned fish as a conservation effort. Heavy fines were implemented to prevent breach of rules. Alternatively, it was encouraged to fish for invasive species which had imbalanced the ecosystem.
New efforts were made to increase the clean up of industrial waste (factory run off) and maintain water clarity.