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Barbados praised for action on marine protected areas


Barbados praised for action on marine protected areas
Minister of Maritime Affairs Kirk Humphrey. (FILE) - (Picture by Jameel Springer.)

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London – Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland has welcomed the announcement by Barbados that it is joining Seychelles to co-champion Commonwealth action on marine protected areas, a vital domain in promoting ocean conservation and the sustainable blue economy.

The London-based Commonwealth Secretariat said that Barbados joins 15 other “champion countries” that have stepped forward to take the lead under the Commonwealth Blue Charter in mobilising action groups made up of like-minded member states, to tackle some of the world’s most pressing ocean challenges.

It said that the action group on marine protected areas (MPAs), initiated by Seychelles in 2018, aims to promote good practices in the effective management of MPAs, raise awareness on the subject across all sectors of society, and exchange expertise, information and experience amongst Commonwealth countries.

“The Commonwealth covers more than a third of the world’s coastal waters, with 47 out of our 54 member countries bordering the ocean. With so many countries dependent on the ocean for food security, jobs and way of life, it is vital to set aside ocean areas in Commonwealth national jurisdictions that are legally protected and dedicated for conservation purposes,” said Scotland.

“This is the key to a sustainable ocean economy, and a way to ensure that resources are not exploited destructively, but given the opportunity to flourish,” she added.

The Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy of Barbados, Kirk Humphrey said Bridgetown is pleased to have this opportunity to co-lead with the Republic of Seychelles on Marine Protected Areas.

“We have made aspirational commitments of protecting 30 per cent of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) once the necessary scientific research has been completed to ensure that while ecosystems and their services are protected or conserved, the livelihoods of stakeholders who use the ocean space are not severely impacted or compromised.”

“It is an honour to serve as co-lead in this role with Republic of Seychelles, whose leadership in this area is world renowned,” he added.

Barbados is finalising two nearshore Marine Managed Areas that will protect a significant percentage of nearshore reef systems along the island’s west and south coasts.

“With the designation of more than 30 per cent of our EEZ as Marine Protected Areas, our country is developing valuable knowledge on application of different Protected Areas models, innovative financing mechanism in the form of Debt for Nature Swap and financial instruments like Blue Bonds, which we would like to share with the world,” said Seychelles’ Minister of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Flavien Joubert.

“The Action Group on Marine Protected Areas under the Commonwealth Blue Charter provides the right platform for us, in partnership with other countries, to exchange our national experience and build together the framework for more sustainable use of the ocean.”

Barbados is a member of seven of these action groups. (CMC)