Barbados has announced it is joining Seychelles to co-champion Commonwealth action on marine protected areas, a vital area in promoting ocean conservation and the sustainable blue economy.
The Caribbean nation joins 15 other ‘champion countries’ that have stepped forward to take the lead under the Commonwealth Blue Charter in mobilising action groups made up of like-minded member states, to tackle some of the world’s most pressing ocean challenges.
The action group on marine protected areas (MPAs), initiated by Seychelles in 2018, aims to promote good practices in the effective management of MPAs, raise awareness on the subject across all sectors of society, and exchange expertise, information and experience amongst Commonwealth countries.
Announcement made on World Ocean Day
Welcoming the announcement, made during a high level panel event to mark World Ocean Day on 8 June, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said:
“The Commonwealth covers more than a third of the world’s coastal waters, with 47 out of our 54 member countries bordering the ocean. With so many countries dependent on the ocean for food security, jobs and way of life, it is vital to set aside ocean areas in Commonwealth national jurisdictions that are legally protected and dedicated for conservation purposes. This is the key to a sustainable ocean economy, and a way to ensure that resources are not exploited destructively, but given the opportunity to flourish.”
The Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy of Barbados, Kirk Humphrey stated:
“The Government of Barbados is pleased to have this opportunity to co-lead with the Republic of Seychelles on Marine Protected Areas.
“We have made aspirational commitments of protecting 30% of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) once the necessary scientific research has been completed to ensure that while ecosystems and their services are protected or conserved, the livelihoods of stakeholders who use the ocean space are not severely impacted or compromised.”
“It is an honour to serve as co-lead in this role with Republic of Seychelles, whose leadership in this area is world renowned.”
Barbados is finalising two nearshore Marine Managed Areas that will protect a significant percentage of nearshore reef systems along the island’s west and south coasts.
As founding champion for the action group, Seychelles’ Minister of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Flavien Joubert, said:
“With the designation of more than 30% of our EEZ as Marine Protected Areas, our country is developing valuable knowledge on application of different Protected Areas models, innovative financing mechanism in the form of Debt for Nature Swap and financial instruments like Blue Bonds, which we would like to share with the world.
“The Action Group on Marine Protected Areas under the Commonwealth Blue Charter provides the right platform for us, in partnership with other countries, to exchange our national experience and build together the framework for more sustainable use of the ocean.”
Commonwealth Blue Charter action groups
The action group is one of ten under the Commonwealth Blue Charter, led by 16 champion countries, focusing on a range of ocean challenges, including:
- Coral Reef Protection and Restoration (co-championed by Australia, Mauritius and Belize);
- Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (focused on marine plastic pollution, co-championed by Vanuatu and the United Kingdom);
- Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods (Sri Lanka);
- Marine Protected Areas (Barbados and Seychelles); Ocean Acidification (New Zealand);
- Ocean and Climate Change (Fiji); Ocean Observation (Canada);
- Sustainable Aquaculture (Cyprus);
- Sustainable Blue Economy (Antigua & Barbuda and Kenya);
- Sustainable Coastal Fisheries (Kiribati and the Maldives).
Barbados is a member of seven of these action groups.