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‘We could lose our reef fishery’


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CAN WE AFFORD to lose anymore of our marine habitats?Yesterday, this question was asked by marine scientist Hazel Oxenford as she delivered a lecture to a number of students  at the Folkestone Park And Marine Reserve  as part of the International Council Of Museums’ week  of activities worldwide. In response to her own question, Oxenford,  a professor of Marine Ecology and Fisheries  at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, said she hoped the answer was “no”.“Additional loss is really unacceptable, given the amount of loss we have already witnessed,”  she said, adding that  if Barbados continued  to lose coral reefs,  the consequences “can  be very far-reaching  for the country”.“We would lose our reef fishery. . . . More importantly, we are going to lose the reef biodiversity, which means our water sports tourism will go downhill.”“I think the most frightening aspect is that of the loss of reef framework and this  self-repairing barrier  that provides the white sand beaches and protects them. . . . we would  no longer have protection of the shoreline and that means. . . . damage to all of the tourist infrastructure along  the coast and much of the critical infrastructure that we have, such as The Barbados Light and Power and the hospital. These facilities are within a metre of current sea surface level.”Oxenford also highlighted the impact of climate change on coral reefs in Barbados. However, she encouraged the students to leave the room as optimists, saying: “It is up to everyone of us to help ourselves and stop relying on other people to tell us what to do.”