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• Reefs and fish populations are in decline
• Seagrass beds are “mediocre”
• Erosion and invasive species negatively affect island
Newswise — NEW YORK (February 28, 2017) – A new report says St-Barthélemy’s environment may be rapidly degrading, with major impacts stemming from land-based pollution, urbanization, and overfishing.
The 124-page report says that reefs and fish populations are declining, important seagrass beds are “mediocre,” and that erosion and invasive species – everything from goats to iguanas to lionfish – are negatively impacting the island.
Titled Environmental Conservation in Saint Barthélemy – Current knowledge and research recommendations, the report was produced by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which conducted an assessment of the status of the island’s ecosystems. The authors worked with key government, NGO, and research organizations that have interest and focus on aspects of the island’s rich biodiversity.
St-Barthélemy’s has undergone a rapid transition from an isolated island to a luxury tourist destination. This high-end tourism development model has propelled the economy of the island to new heights but has also increased demands on its natural resources.
The report notes that some regulations in place are well formulated to protect the natural resources of the island; however, monitoring and enforcement are sorely lacking. The lack of information relating to other critical components of the island resources, such as fisheries, hinders the assessment of their health and sustainability.
The study further notes that in order to support the livelihood, economy, and well-being of St-Barthélemy, conservation efforts must take place through holistic, informed, and coordinated planning.
The authors make key recommendations to improve St-Barthélemy’s environmental sustainability including updating the legal framework and capacity to enforce environmental laws, addressing climate change, increasing research, and creating an island-wide sustainable development strategy.
Co-author Dr. Catherine Jadot, with support from WCS, will hold two conferences to present the results and recommendations of the 2016 study. The first, which will be in French, is scheduled for Friday March 3, 2017 at the Salle de la Capitainerie in Gustavia, St. Barthelemy. The second, in English, will be held on Saturday March 4, 2017 at the same venue. Both conferences will start at 6.30 pm. This public conference will be followed by workshops to develop a communication strategy in late April, 2017.
WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society)
MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.