(PRESS RELEASE) — While covering approximately 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean is the least explored environment, and vital for food security, transportation and shipping, aesthetics, recreation and tourism. However, growing industrialization is threatening this system and putting economic growth at risk for small islands.
Interestingly, the concept of the Blue Economy focuses on the use of the ocean’s resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and of paramount importance, maintenance of ocean ecosystem health to ensure continued benefits.
To highlight the commitment to sustainable growth and resilience of the Caribbean’s Blue Economy, and to facilitate the successful implementation of available opportunities, the OECS Caribbean Region Oceanscape Project (CROP) was launched to improve good practices and institutional arrangements for marine spatial planning, integrated coastal management, and marine protected areas and to facilitate transitioning to a Blue Economy. Outputs under the CROP include National Coastal and Marine Spatial Plans; a regional Marine Spatial Framework, and a National Oceans Policy.
Dr. Gale T.C. Rigobert, Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development stresses that “as the marine space of small island states, like Saint Lucia, is significantly larger than their land mass and clearly a substantial asset, transitioning to a Blue Economy is critical in ensuring continued economic growth for our islands.”
She adds that “the sensitization from this ‘National Seminar on Marine Spatial Planning: OECS Transitioning to a Blue Economy’ will create awareness on marine spatial planning and the Blue Economy in Saint Lucia, and provide stakeholders with an opportunity to learn about, and capitalize on, the benefits of the Blue Economy, and share their current challenges and concerns”.
Given the priority to ensure the sustainable use of the oceans’ resources at the national level, and efforts to effectively manage and conserve Saint Lucia’s marine resources, through policy development and implementation, maritime boundary delimitation, coastal habitat mapping, and endorsement of institutional arrangements, this Seminar is timely, as the Government of Saint Lucia continues to spearhead work to effectively manage and conserve Saint Lucia’s valuable coastal and marine resources.