First phase of St. Kitts-Nevis Marine Ecological Assessment completed
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Phase I of the recently concluded Marine Ecological Assessment in St. Kitts and Nevis was deemed a success as a number of findings proved beneficial to the federation’s Marine Management Area (SKN MMA) at the conservation zones in Keys, Sandy Point and the Narrows.
Underwater video surveys were carried out by the Department of Environment (DoE) and the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Conserving Biodiversity Project.
Phynora Ible, a conservation biodiversity project associate working with the local Department of Environment, explained the findings of the assessment. “At Sandy Point, sting rays were observed on the sandy areas of seabed, with seagrass beds found in shallow and deeper water,” she said. “Paradise reef had abundant corals, and several barracuda and a turtle were seen on the reef, whilst the camera was being operated by a member of staff from Department of Marine Resources.
“The Keys area survey was challenging, with the rough seas experienced on the Atlantic Coast limiting opportunities for survey, but a relatively calm day gave the opportunity for Department of Environment staff and Envision Mapping to survey the habitats [that] differ from the other areas. Stands of old Elkhorn coral are found furthest offshore, with patches of coral reef, soft corals and marine algal gardens toward the coastline. ”
She applauded the various organizations for coming on board and assisting with the assessment. “The St. Kitts and Nevis Coast Guard provided invaluable assistance during this first phase of the surveys, and Envision Mapping, United Nations Development Programme, Department of Environment, Department of Fisheries and Department of Marine Resources would like to express their gratitude to the boat crews and officers who helped during the survey.”
The underwater video surveys were the first phase of the Marine Ecosystem Assessment project surveys. The second phase is scheduled to begin in August, when diving surveys will be undertaken in the Narrows and Sandy Point areas, with some further video surveys carried out if the weather permits.
The DoE and DMR seek the continued cooperation of people living in these areas and the public in general. Remember when it involves #SKNMarineResources to #Use #Protect #Conserve to support #SKNbiodiversity.