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A Major New Caribbean Biodiversity Project

USAID launches initiative

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The United States Agency for International Development and The Nature Conservancy have launched a major new project aimed at protecting critical marine ecosystems in the Caribbean.

USAID launched the $12.5 million Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program on the Grenadian island of Carriacou.

The five-year initiative “seeks to improve the management of marine protected areas (MPAs); reduce threats to the environment including coral reefs, mangroves, and sea grass beds; strengthen fisheries management, and promote sustainable livelihoods for coastal residents in four seascapes across five countries,” according to a US government statement.

“While we appreciate the tremendous beauty of this Grenadine seascape, we are very mindful that it is currently under threat,” US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Larry Palmer said at the launch.

“Several reef-building species are acutely endangered or at risk of extinction. These changes have had an increasingly negative impact on the ability of the reefs to remain healthy such as spawning grounds and natural barriers that protect against storm surges and sea level rise,” he said. “Economic sectors like tourism and fisheries, which depend heavily upon the quality of the marine environment, are particularly affected.”

The CMBP is being funded by a $10 million investment by USAID, along with a $2.5 million contribution by the Nature Conservancy.

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