Think Globally, Act Locally

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As part of the Living Oceans Foundation’s efforts to inform local stakeholders on the importance of their coral reefs and the benefits of the proposed marine zoning strategy in conserving these resources, our St. Kitts & Nevis program includes a strong education and outreach component. Today, we hosted a St. Kitts and Nevis press conference aboard the M/Y Golden Shadow, alongside Ruth Blyther and Nancy Graff from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) U.S. Virgin Islands Office, and the Director of the St. Kitts & Nevis Department of Maritime Affairs, Mr. McClean Hobson. Representatives from The Leeward Times and Independent Link newspapers and CHOICE FM Radio and WINN FM 98.9 participated in the round-table interviews.

St. Kitts and Nevis press conference held aboard the M/Y Golden Shadow
St. Kitts and Nevis press conference held aboard the M/Y Golden Shadow

After a tour of the Golden Shadow, Phil Renaud provided an overview of the Living Oceans Foundation, emphasizing the overarching mission of ocean conservation, the keen support of the Foundation’s chairman, HRH Prince Khaled bin Sultan, and the ambitious program we are undertaking during the Global Reef Expedition (GRE).   Andy Bruckner discussed the research in St. Kitts, highlighting the stressors coral reefs face, the ecological importance of this work both locally and globally in understanding and addressing these stressors, and how the research can aid in improved management and conservation.  Ruth then discussed recent products developed by TNC and the local government.

Our discussions during the St. Kitts and Nevis press conference highlighted the unique opportunity these communities have in protecting their precious coral reef resources from future impacts and restoring degraded areas.  Recent efforts have been undertaken with the support of fishermen and other stakeholders and a framework for spatial management in place. In 2010, our partners from TNC and the National Coral Reef Institute (NCRI) completed high resolution habitat maps depicting 12 primary zones ranging from hardcoral frameworks and elkhorn coral habitats to seagrass beds, macrolagal flats, gorgonian hardground areas, lagoonal muds, and sand environments.

St. Kitts & Nevis Benthic Habitat Map
St. Kitts & Nevis Benthic Habitat Map

These are supplemented by map products showing the value of various fisheries and a multi-objective marine zoning plan that incorporates the needs of a wide variety of stakeholders with conservation priorities.  Our scientific assessments, with sites selected through use of the habitat maps on the basis of their value as critical coral reef habitat, will provide the first ever comprehensive assessment of the structure, composition and health of the coral reefs and associated species.

The St. Kitts and Nevis press conference was followed by a reception aboard the M/Y Golden Shadow, with attendance by Government Ministers, Permanent Secretaries & Directors, fishermen, divers and dive operators, local NGOs, the St. Christopher National Trust and local youth groups.

Reception Aboard the M/Y Golden Shadow
Reception Aboard the M/Y Golden Shadow

The evening provided a unique opportunity for these various groups to come together in support of a common initiative: conservation and sustainable use of the coral reefs of the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis.

To follow along and see more photos, please visit us on Facebook! You can also follow the expedition on our Global Reef Expedition page, where there is more information about our research and our team members.

(Images/Photos: 1. Amanda Williams; 2. NCRI and TNC; 3. Amanda Williams)

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