In Dominica, the CATS Programme supports the sustainable development of the Soufriere/Scotts Head Marine Reserve (SSMR). Particular emphasis is put on the re-consolidation of the operational capacities of the Local Area Management Authority (LAMA), which are closely connected to the overall sustainable financial management of the SSMR.
The SSMR is located in the parish of St. Mark, in the south of the island of the Commonwealth of Dominica, at 15° 13’ 48” N, 61° 22’ 60” W (Wood, 2007). The Reserve is approximately 6–7 square kilometres and is characterised by adjacent fringing coastline, coral reef systems, warm underwater sulphur vents, and abrupt underwater drop-offs. It is a site for schooling migrating coastal pelagic fish such as jacks, sardines and mackerels, and cetacean species such as spinner dolphins and sperm whales. The site is also used by over ten diving and watersports companies.
The SSMR stretches from Soufriere, Scotts Head and up to Anse Bateau, near the village of Point Michel, encompassing the immediate offshore waters and sub strata, as well as the adjacent coasts, which is managed in such a way so as to achieve the long term conservation, economic and cultural values of the area. The bay is a submerged extinct volcano crater plummeting to great depths and is characterized by an array of geologic features making it one of the best dive spot on earth. The SSMR was legally established under the Fisheries Act, Chapter 61: 60 Act 11 of 1987 and the Statutory Rules and Order No. 17 of 1998 for the avoidance of user conflict between fishermen and other emerging uses of the sanctuary. The Local Area Management Authority (LAMA), which is the dedicated management entity of the SSMR, was created under the same Act of 1998.
The communities of Scotts Head, Soufriere and Galion do not partake in agricultural activity like communities in other parts of Dominica, due to the soil type and topography of the area. There are no factories, hotels to generate economic activity in those communities and the main source of income and local livelihood is fishing. Given the socio-economic reliance on fisheries, the communities around the SSMR are very much dependent upon the ecological intactness of their coastal and marine environment. The area is as well rather vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as extreme hydrometeriological phenomena like hurricanes, storm surges, tsunamis and landslides.
Land based sources of pollution and resources-use conflicts, which in the past triggered the formation of the SSMR, have re-emerged in more recent times, due to the growth in tourism and expansion of unplanned coastal development in the area. The multiplicity of users in the area dictates the need for the creation of managed zones that allow for ecosystem sustainability, while preserving and where possible enhancing the livelihoods of persons in the fishing and tourism industries.
In addition to supporting the general consolidation of managerial capacities with LAMA, the CATS Programme assists the SSMR with the following:
- Revision and Amendment of the SSMR Management Plan and SSMR Operations Plan
- Development and Implementation of the SSMR Communication Strategy
- Procurement of a 4-wheel Work Vehicle
- Repairs, Overhaul and Engine Replacement of SSMR Patrol Boat, VHF Equipment, Emergency and Safety Equipment
- Financial Support to A/V & Communication Equipment and IT Infrastructure
- National SSMR Workshops
- Staff Capacity Building through Regional MMA Network Participation / Cross Visiting
- Review and Strategic Action Planning for Changes and Amendments of the National Legal and Organisational Framework for Sustainable Management of Marine Reserves in Dominica
- Drafting and Amending Priority Legislation for the Sustainable Management of Marine Reserves in Dominica
- SSMR Business Development and Sustainable Financial Management
- Assessment and installation of Fish-Aggregating Devices (FAD) to reduce Fishing Pressure on Marine Resources
- Assessment and Design of a Community-managed Yacht Mooring Area inside the SSMR
- Emergency and safety equipment (boat): handheld GPS, First Aid, Oxygen
- Repairs of the Coastal Boardwalk at Champagne Reef
- Renovations at the SSMR Interpretation Centre
- Development and Publishing of SSMR Media Products for Marketing and Awareness Raising
- Alumn Stream Area Liquid and Solid Waste Awareness Project
- SSMR / LAMA / Staff Capacity Building and Training
Our CATS2 National Project Officer in Dominica is Mr Dilian Bellot.