20 Mar 2014
SPAW-listed MPAs in the Wider Caribbean receiving support through UNEP-CEP
Every year, millions of people enjoy the
Caribbean. The sea is a tourist
destination, food source, and transportation mode for people from all over the
world. The rich biodiversity and
critical habitat make the Caribbean a location of great ecological
importance. Marine protected areas
(MPAs) have been established in the region to protect those same species and
habitats that make the sea such an incredible location.
In 2012, eighteen Caribbean Protected Areas were
listed under the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol of the Cartagena Convention within the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The SPAW Protocol lists protected areas with a view to develop a regional network and cooperation programme.
The purpose of this list is to identify those areas that are of particular importance to the Wider Caribbean region that are to be accorded priority for scientific and technical research and mutual assistance, as well as to protect the listed areas from activities that would undermine the purposes for which they were listed.
As of today, the current list of SPAW Protected Areas is:
- Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve in Belize;
- Guanahacabibes National Park in Pinar del Río in Cuba;
- Sanctuary Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta and Regional Seaflower Marine Protected Area in San Andrés and Providencia Archipelago in Colombia;
- Grand Connétable Island Natural Reserve (French Guyana), National Park of Guadeloupe, St Martin National Reserve and Lagoon Ponds, Petite-Terre National Reserve (Guadeloupe), and Agoa Sanctuary (FWI) in France;
- Bonaire National Marine Park, St Eustatius National Park the Quill and Boven and Saba Bank National Park in the Caribbean Netherlands;
- Florida Key National Marine Sanctuary, Dry Tortugas National Park and Everglades National Park in Florida, and Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in Texas in the United States of America.
A specific database (http://www.spaw-palisting.org) has been developed and is managed by the Regional Activity Center for the SPAW Protocol (SPAW-RAC), hosted by the Government of France in Guadeloupe, to compile data on the protected areas listed and allow for specific statistics and analyses, such as site description, ecological data, cultural and socio-economic data, management, monitoring and evaluation, stakeholders, and staffing and infrastructure.
A dedicated cooperation programme is currently being developed by UNEP’s SPAW Secretariat, in consultation with Parties and interested partners, in order to support the 18 protected areas and to promote the listing of additional protected areass under SPAW which would benefit from such a cooperation programme. To this end, representatives of the SPAW sites met in November 2013 to discuss strengths and needs of their MPAs and agree on the elements of such cooperation programme. Currently the 18 sites are already receiving support from UNEP-CEP through Small Grants awarded in late 2013 to support, inter alia, specific exchanges and meetings between them or with other Caribbean protected areas. Managers of the 18 protected areas will also be part of the network of mentors within the mentoring programme recently launched under CaMPAM, the Caribbean MPA Management Network and Forum of SPAW and UNEP-CEP, which aims to build capacity for managers and staff of MPAs in the region through peer-to-peer exchanges and training.