The channel area between St. Kitts and Nevis, once intended to become designated an MPA, has been re-zoned and increased in size and will soon be designated the first Marine Managed Area (MMA) in St. Kitts and Nevis, titled 'The Narrows Marine Managed Area' (NMMA). The CATS Programme is assisting St. Kitts and Nevis in all legal, technical and operational processes towards the establishing of the NMMA.
“The Narrows” is the name of the strait that separates the Caribbean islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis (SKN). At its narrowest, it is 3.5 kilometres wide. Most of the benthic ecosystem in the area consists of dense sea grass communities dominated by turtle grass and manatee grass. These sea grass ecosystems serve as vital breeding grounds for a number of (commercial) fish species and conch. There are areas, particularly nearer to Nevis, with dense thickets of largely dead elkhorn coral interspersed with the occasional living colony of other hard coral species. Complementing the hard coral varieties are an array of sponges and soft corals. Land based ecosystems that need to be protected include coastal mangroves, salt ponds, sea turtle nesting beaches, bird nesting and rookeries sites.
In May 2013, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis signed the Leaders’ Declaration at the second summit of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI). This Declaration contains key commitments to marine and coastal conservation, including “in each participating country and territory, to effectively conserve and manage at least 20% of the marine and coastal environment by 2020”. One of the objectives of the CCI is to help countries fulfil their commitments regarding the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas and their regional commitment within the framework of the Cartagena Convention and the SPAW Protocol.
CATS as a whole is addressing the increasing vulnerability of the Caribbean Small Island Developing States and Low-lying Coastal States to climate change and the attendant negative impacts on coastal communities and economies, ecosystems (terrestrial and coastal/marine), and coastal natural resources management.
With the multiplicity of uses and users, have come a plethora of challenges, conflicts and threats to the marine and coastal ecosystems. These include land-based and other sources of pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, and ad hoc infrastructure development, among others.
Given the importance of the proposed The Narrows Marine Management Area (NMMA) to tourism, recreation and fisheries, the management of the ecosystem and the cultural assets of the area are critical for maintaining the use values that support these vital industries. The processes of establishing the NMMA is being technically and financially supported by CATS.
CATS C2 supports inter alia, the design and development of the management plan for the proposed NMMA. The development and implementation of a popular management plan is the key strategy for the effective and efficient operationalization of the proposed MMA along the lines of sustainable financial management. Ongoing communication, awareness-raising, public outreach and community engagement are also critical to creating a commitment at all levels of the society to the process of developing this plan and in the establishment and management of the NMMA.
The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis through the Department of Marine Resources wants to designate the NMMA to efficiently and sustainably manage the area as a whole. For the time being, there is no effective management measure in place in the NMMA except those for basic fisheries management or associated with the Fisheries legislation. Once designated, the Narrows Marine Management Area will be the first marine managed area in Saint Kitts and Nevis (SKN).
In addition to supporting the general consolidation of MMA managerial capacities with the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) as designated MMA management entity, the CATS Programme assists the NMMA with the following:
- Drafting of the NMMA Management Plan and NMMA Operations Plan
- Assistance to the Development and Implementation of the NMMA Communication Strategy
- Support to the Nevis Lionfish Programme
- Procurement of a 4-wheel Work Vehicle
- Dive Gear
- Review and Strategic Action Planning for Changes and Amendments of the National Legal and Organisational Framework for Sustainable Management of Marine Reserves in St. Kitts and Nevis
- NMMA Business Development and Sustainable Financial Management
- NMMA Demarcation Buoys and Moorings
- Computer Equipment and Software (esp. GIS) incl. GIS Training
- NMMA Communication Events, Projects, Activities (AV-Campaign, Cabinet, Celebrity Ambassador, Social Media, Private Sector Partnerships, Town Hall Meetings, Governance Workshops, Stakeholder Conferences etc.)
- Staff Capacity Building and Training to Department of Marine Resources as the designated Management Unit of the NMMA