Reef Guardians inspire Caribbean connections

Published: 26/07/2013

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s successful Reef Guardians program is being given a flavour of the Caribbean as a delegation of reef managers from Grenada visit North Queensland to learn from the initiative.

While the Caribbean and Australia may seem worlds apart, they have the largest coral reefs on the planet and share the challenges of protecting them.

Through the Australia–Caribbean Coral Reef Collaboration funded by AusAID, the Authority is working with the Government of Grenada to develop a reef stewardship program framework, as well as planning tools and resources for them to build support for and participation in coral reef management.

The project will tailor a program of activities targeting fishers, farmers, communities and schools within nearby villages of the Moliniere–Beausejour Marine Protected Area of Grenada, the southernmost island of the eastern Caribbean.

Program leader of the collaboration Dr Paul Marshall said reef managers in Australia and Grenada both recognised that meaningful engagement of local communities and reef users was crucial to the future of coral reefs.

"Reef stewardship is a way of recognising the care and responsibility people feel for their reefs. Whether they are fishers, farmers, tourism operators or school children, people can help care for the reef," Dr Marshall said.

Grenada’s Fisheries Division delegate and National Marine Protected Area co-ordinator Roland Baldeo said the knowledge-exchange mission was invaluable in providing a foundation for a Grenada Reef Guardians program.

"Grenada has a passion for its reefs as an international tourist attraction but they’re under huge pressure from fishing and pollution. This program will help Grenada take action to look after reefs and also protect livelihoods and cultural connections with their reefs,’’ Mr Baldeo said.

The delegation has been attending workshops in Townsville and meeting with Reef Guardian fishers, farmers, schools and councils, as well as High Standard Tourism Operators in Mission Beach and Cairns. 

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