The islands of Grenada and the Grenadines are home to 33 species of coral and the world’s first underwater sculpture park, which currently has 65 sculptures for divers and snorkelers to enjoy. Two Marine Protected Areas have been established in Grenada under the Grenada Protected Areas System Plan.
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Reefs in Grenada
Grenada is the most southern island of the Eastern Caribbean. Grenada possesse 160 km2 of reef comprising patch and fringing reefs on the east and south coasts, at Grand Anse and Moliniere on the west coast, and around the islands of the Grenadines. Tourism development is particularly intensive on the southeast coast, around Grande Anse Bay and sewerage, agrochemical pollution and sedimentation resulting from coastal development during the 1980s may be responsible for much of the shallow reef degradation in Grenada and the Grenadines. A series of hurricanes, Lenny (1999) and Ivan (2004), followed by Hurricanes Dennis and Emily (which hit the island 6 days apart in July 2005) have all contributed to physical damage, especially to stands of the elkhorn coral Acropora palmata. Storm activity has also affected reefs of neighbouring Carriacou and Sandy Island. 33 species of hard coral have been recorded in Grenada and live hard coral cover ranged from 24-38% in 2007 and 6-20% in 2008. Macroalgae, especially Dictyota and Halimeda were prevalent, accounting for 37-53% of the benthos at 9 sites in the southwest; the sea urchin, Diadema antillarum was rare or absent in 2008.
Recreational and commercial use
Tourism is a major and increasing contributor to the economy and in 2002 brought in $99 million, accounting for 23% of GDP. Reefs on the southwest coast are under the greatest pressure from locals and visitors and more than 80% of recreation diving occurs in this area. A number of wrecks act as artificial reefs and are popular dive sites. The world’s first underwater sculpture park has been created within Moliniere-Beausejour MPA,; 65 statues park depicting Grenadian history and folklore cover a 800 m2 area of shallow seabed. This is an interesting site for snorkelers and SCUBA divers and helps divert some of the tourist diving pressure away from the natural environment. Commercial fishing accounts for 1.83% of GDP (1994) employing over 1,200 people. There are 4 major export facilities in Grenada and in 1993 an export of 477 metric tonnes generated $3.1 million.
Threats to reefs
Environmental threats include hurricanes and storm surges and terrestrial runoff and sedimentation. All of Grenada’s reefs are threatened by human activities; indiscriminate boat anchoring, spear fishing of herbivorous fish, coastal development and poor land-use practices especially on the east and southeast coasts. Overfishing is a threat to all areas. Coastal development threatens 85% of reefs and sedimentation threatens over 50% of reef areas. Marine-based pollution affects about 25% of reefs. Due to the high level of threats and reef dependence combined with low ratings for adaptive capacity, Grenada is considered the most vulnerable of all Caribbean nations to the effects of reef degradation. Climate change projections suggest that reefs in the area will experience thermal stress severe enough to cause bleaching every year after 2040. Declines in coral calcification by 2040 due to ocean acidification are projected to be ~10%.
Two Marine Protected Areas have been established under the Grenada Protected Areas System Plan; Sandy Island/Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area (SIOBMPA) on the neighbouring island of Carriacou and Moliniere-Beausejour MPA close to the capital St. George’s in Grenada. A further two MPAs have been approved but not yet established; Woburn-Clarkes Court Bay MPA and Grand Anse MPA. A National MPA Committee, which falls under Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is responsible for setting MPA policy and for overseeing all aspects of MPA management. Committee members include representatives from government and industry agencies and the MPAs themselves. These areas encompass diverse examples of coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, sandy beaches and littoral scrub. At the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Brazil (2006), The Government of Grenada announced its plan to protect 25% of its land and sea areas by 2020. This was the precursor for the launching of the ‘Caribbean Challenge’ to conserve biodiversity.
The information used to prepare this report was compiled from the following reports and articles:
Bouchon, C., Portillo, P., Bouchon-Navaro, Y., Louis, M., Hoetjes, P., De Meyer, K., Macrae, D., Armstrong, H., Datadin, V., Harding, S., Mallela, J., Parkinson, R., Van Bochove, J-W., Wynne, S., Lirman, D., Herlan, J., Baker, A., Collado, L., Nimrod, S., Mitchell, J., Morrall, C. and Isaac, C. (2008) Status of Coral Reef Resources of the Lesser Antilles: The French West Indies, The Netherlands Antilles, Anguilla, Antigua, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago. In: Wilkinson, C. (ed.). Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008. Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, Townsville, Australia. pp 265-280.
Burke, L. and Maidens, J. (2004) Reefs at Risk in the Caribbean. World Resources Institute, Washington DC. 80 p.
Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism. Quick Facts: Grenada
Hoetjes, P., Lum Kong, A., Juman, R., Miller, A., Miller, M., De Meyer, K. and Smith, A. (2002) Status of Coral Reefs in the Eastern Caribbean: The OECS, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and the Netherlands Antilles. In: Wilkinson, C. (ed.). Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2002. Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, Townsville, Australia. pp 325-342.