Implementation Of The SMMA Agreement

About The SMMA: Implementation Of The SMMA Agreement

The first meeting of the TAC recognized that detailed operational mechanisms for the Agreement (including budgetary matters) were now required to ensure effective implementation and operation of the SMMA.

The TAC created a Technical Working group (TWG) comprising the SMMA Manager, the Department of Fisheries, a technical officer from the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), with other technical experts co-opted as necessary.

This small group provided the impetus for implementation of the Agreement, generating workplans and budgetary information for approval of the TAC, and evaluating the implementation process.

Following the general consultation the Department of Fisheries (with some assistance from local dive operators) undertook a descriptive assessment of the entire SMMA up to a depth of 70 feet. Through this exercise the exact limits for delimitation of the marine reserves and fishing priority areas specified by the Agreement were identified, given the distribution and condition of underwater habitats and their biological communities.

The TWG recommended that a workshop be held to generate a management plan for the SMMA. This event took place over a three day period in September 1994. TAC members, along with other local experts and a small number of regional experts actively involved in marine park management, participated in the event. Funding agencies already involved in supporting the SMMA were also present.

The management plan produced clearly defines the institutional arrangements and responsibilities, revenue sources (including specific fees to be charged for various categories of users, systems of fee payment and collection), job responsibilities and skills required for four wardens and the SMMA manager, specifics of infrastructure needed (demarcation and mooring buoys, zoning signs), systems for monitoring the resource base and levels of resource use, surveillance, maintenance, and public awareness needs.

In addition to the funding provided by the USAID ENCORE Project for demarcation of all marine reserves within the SMMA, the French government through the French Mission for Co-operation provided funds for moorings, a patrol boat and communications equipment for the SMMA office, and salaries for the manager and wardens for an initial three month period. The French also provided the services of a national service volunteer for a period of sixteen months.

The Caribbean Conservation Association, through a regional marine park development programme, contributed to marine resource monitoring and public awareness literature. All three agencies and the local government contributed to the SMMA brochure, moorings flyer, and video.

It was envisaged that this initial inflow of external funding would allow the SMMA to establish a firm foundation upon which user fees, purchase of souvenirs, and other donations would make it self-sustaining.

The TAC has met regularly each quarter and indeed has grown from its original 13 members (Department of Fisheries, Soufriere Foundation, Air and Sea Ports Authority, fishermen’s representatives, Ministries of Planning and Tourism, Parks and Beaches Commission, St. Lucia Tourist Board, Marine Police Unit, yachting representative, Customs Department, dive association, and water taxi association) to 19, after two large hotel operations, two small hoteliers/ restaurateur representatives, the Charter Boat Association, and the Hotels and Tourism Association were added. The TWG initially liaised on a daily basis in order to keep pace with developments of the SMMA.

In terms of infrastructure and staffing, 42 mooring buoys and 22 demarcation and local dive buoys were installed in December of 1994. The signs were put in place in February of 1995. The Management Agreement was published and a color brochure describing the purpose and rules for use of the SMMA was printed in early 1995. In addition, a brochure detailing the mooring buoy system was produced.

Coral reef monitoring activities which were already being undertaken by CANARI (with assistance from Soufriere based dive operators), were gradually expanded to take into account the need to commence monitoring in all marine reserves and multiple use areas.

The SMMA was ready for official launching in June of 1995. The event took place in Soufriere and highlighted the objectives and operations within the SMMA.