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UWI develops Marine Space-use Information System

Barbados: The Center for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) at University of West Indies (UWI) in association with a wide range of Grenadine stakeholders developed an integrated Marine Space-use Information System (MarSIS).

The Grenadine stakeholders includes a variety of people who work in the sea (including fishers, diveshops, daytours, watertaxis, yachting charter companies and ferries), a variety of marine management agencies (including fisheries, planning, tourism, environment, port authority, coast guard and forestry departments) of both countries, community members, NGOs, a number of UWI Graduate students and the Sustainable Grenadines, Inc. (SusGren).

This has been done in order to integrate a wide range of marine-based knowledge and provide people with a more complete information base for marine planning and management. This information system can be used to highlight important areas such as: critical fishery habitats (essential fish habitats, nursery areas, endangered species); areas of highest biodiversity; important marine ecosystems (mangrove, seagrass and coral reefs); areas of high recreational and cultural importance; areas important for fishing, marine-based tourism and shipping; safe anchorages; areas of land-based sources of pollution as well as identify areas of highest human threat and potential space-use conflicts.

Sustainable Grenadines, Inc. (SusGren) has recently been awarded funding to carry out a marine spatial planning project from October 2010 – March 2012 entitled “Developing a Framework for a Comprehensive Marine Multi-use Zoning Plan for the Grenadine Islands”, funded by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In tandem, funding has been received through the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program (GEF SGP) to ensure the involvement of Grenadines marine resource users in this marine spatial planning process through a complimentary grant entitled “Incorporating the Knowledge and Resource Values of Stakeholders in Marine Resources Management in the Grenadines”.

Additionally, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Eastern Caribbean Program is providing additional technical support for this project. Through the development of a transboundary multi-use marine zoning plan for the Grenadines, the project builds on pre-existing initiatives in the Grenadine islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, namely: the Marine Resource and Space-use Information System (MarSIS) geodatabase and the Protected Area Systems Plans developed by both countries of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada.

Moreover, by using a broad collaborative approach, the project aims to ensure broad public buy-in, self-enforcement, and long-term sustainability of the plan through engaging government agencies, NGOs/community groups as well as the marine users from the project inception.

Source: GSDI Newsletter