US funds reef restoration in Oracabessa

US funds reef restoration in Oracabessa

Sunday, November 01, 2020

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The American Government is providing approximately $2.45 million in grant funding towards the Oracabessa Marine Trust’s reef restoration and protection efforts.

The funding is awarded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental Scientific Affairs, the US Embassy in Kingston has stated.

According to the embassy, the reef restoration project will involve a range of activities to help fight off disease and algae, solidify the reef structure and protect it from boat traffic over a period of 18 months.

“This includes growing and transplanting a wide variety of coral to the reef, which will better protect it from disease. Since sea urchins clean algae on reefs, the project will also support growing sea urchins in tanks and transplanting them to the reef, along with existing populations from other locations,” the release stated.

The project is expected to have a positive impact on both the fishing and tourism sectors in the area, given that the site is a major asset for the tourism sector, as the reef itself is highly visited and appreciated by divers and snorkellers from hotels along the north coast.

The local fishing sector, which relies on a sustainable quantity of fish, will also benefit from the project, as fish naturally gravitate to areas with healthy reefs.

“Through the efforts of the Oracabessa Marine Trust, this reef restoration project is a great example of a community taking charge of its natural resources and preserving them for future generations, while sustaining local livelihoods,” US Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia is quoted as saying in a statement.

“Funding for this initiative stems from the US Government’s commitment to support resilience in the region as part of the US-Caribbean Resilience Partnership. By protecting marine life and encouraging the local economy in times of crisis, this project is a win-win for all stakeholders,” Ambassador Tapia added.

Inilek Wilmot, sanctuary manager for the Oracabessa Marine Trust — a partnership between the Oracabessa Foundation and Oracabessa Fishers Association — added: “The year 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary, a marine protected area that now includes our coral reef restoration project, but this has been a very challenging year. Our community has been hard hit by the economic impact of the current pandemic, particularly in the tourism sector, and many of our community members have returned to fishing. Now, more than ever, it is crucial for us to protect our natural resources and we see the US Government support for our reef restoration project as an invaluable contribution to our community.”

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