The Grenadine Bank seascape comprises an archipelago with over 30 islands and cays shared by the nations of Grenada and St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and supports the most extensive coral reefs and related marine habitats in the southeastern Caribbean. Approximately 10,000 people call these islands home, and at least 30% of the population lives in poverty. These coastal communities—where fishing is the primary occupation, rely heavily on the health of the surrounding marine ecosystems for their livelihoods, income and food. The Grenadine Bank fishers have long standing traditional relationships with the coastal communities across the islands of the Grenadine chain. These socio-ecological relationships define the identity of the fishers, their knowledge mechanisms, and safety nets. Within this relationship, there are strong-shared social and unique cultural attachments to the marine environment and its use.
The marine and coastal biodiversity in this seascape faces a myriad of threats, including loss of habitat from unsustainable development, overfishing, land and marine sources of pollution, climate change and invasive species. The Nature Conservancy supports two core marine protected areas in the Grenadine Bank—the Tobago Cays Marine Park (TCMP) in St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Sandy Island/Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area (SIOBMPA) in Grenada. The Conservancy and Sustainable Grenadines (SusGren), along with collaborating partners, are actively working to provide the tools needed for effective management of these areas, protect marine habitat, promote sustainable fisheries and support alternative tourism-based livelihoods.
The CMBP in the Grenadine Bank aims to support the commitment made by Grenada and SVG to protect at least 20% of their marine and coastal areas by 2020 as part of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative. To do this, the project will help establish funding to support marine conserved areas through the National Conservation Trust Funds of Grenada and SVG, and update and strengthen management plans for TCMP and SIOBMPA. This includes supporting priority activities within these plans, such as monitoring coral reef and fisheries health, reducing anchor damage to marine habitat by installing yacht moorings, enforcing regulations and conducting community outreach. Training and financial support for management staff will also be provided in an effort to build their core skills and generate additional resources for effective management. The CMBP also supports the Junior Rangers Program in SVG to engage young community members in local conservation and marine monitoring activities.
This project also includes the promotion of sustainable fishing practices as well as ecotourism and tourism-related livelihood options. It will support national fisheries policy planning, sustainable fisheries and marine conserved areas through demonstrations of sustainable fishing practices and the strengthening and empowerment of fisher associations.