PRESS RELEASE – TWO of the most crucial roles of corals and coral reefs are to protect coastlines from the damaging effects of waves and tropical storms as well as function as a means of shelter for marine organisms. Due to lost coral coverage inside the Soufriere Marine Management Area (SMMA), CLEAR Caribbean has partnered with Sandals Foundation to establish two coral nurseries with an aim to restore lost coral coverage as well as provide a habitat for marine life within this affected area.
Dr. Owen Day, Executive Director of CLEAR Caribbean, highlighted the project partners and explained the importance of this initiative, saying that, “We are delighted that Sandals Foundation is supporting this coral restoration project in St. Lucia. Coral restoration is a proven strategy to help propagate and replant corals that have greater resilience to diseases and the impacts of climate change. The project is a partnership between the Government of St Lucia, the Diving Association (ANBAGLO), the Soufriere Marine Management Association, the Soufriere Fisherman’s Cooperative and CLEAR Caribbean Ltd. We are confident this project will create sustainable ecological and socio-economic benefits.”
Through Sandals Foundation’s environmental thrust a donation in excess of US$47,000 was made towards the establishment of the nurseries and for maintenance for a period of one year. The Foundation has also committed to the development of a finance mechanism to ensure sustenance and management of the nurseries beyond the first year as well as long-term out-planting programmes which will assist with the resilience of reefs in multiple areas as needed.
Jonathan Hernould, Sandals Foundation’s Environmental Officer, expressed why Sandals Foundation joined the partnership for this coral conservation effort.
“We all depend upon the marine environment, especially islands in the Caribbean like St. Lucia,” he said. “Coral reefs are an essential part of the marine ecosystem and without them we would have no fishing industry and our tourism industry would suffer greatly. With the help of CLEAR Caribbean and this coral restoration programme, we are helping to restore the coral reefs in St. Lucia that so many people depend upon.”
The fishing industry is one of the major economic contributors in Caribbean countries and is heavily dependent on coral reefs. With this as a motivator, the Foundation has undertaken a self-given mandate of coral conservation through partnerships across the Caribbean. Sandals Foundation has assisted the establishment of five coral nurseries in the islands of Jamaica and St. Lucia.
Protection of the environment both above and below sea level is one of the pillars that Sandals Foundation is built on. Through partnerships, the Foundation is committed to bringing public awareness to the harmful effects of environmental negligence while promoting proactive methods that individuals and organizations may pursue.