Effective management of marine resources around small island developing states (SIDS) are vital for their environmental and economic welfare. Accurate resource assessment and routine monitoring information collected from diverse sources and passed to key decision makers are essential for holistic management.
In the UK Overseas Territory of Anguilla in the north east Caribbean , tourism provides substantial income to government and private business, most of it coastal based. The maintenance of the “product” of white beaches, turquoise water, rich coral reefs with varied fish populations is essential to attract and retain the levels of high income visitors.
The coast and nearshore waters of Anguilla are also important to islanders whose livelihoods involve fishing, or are involved with salt production or sand borrowing. Turtles, birds and other animals also nest, forage and mate in the coastal zone. Pressures from the land; pollution, development, and from the seas; storm surge, erosion, overfishing, cause changes that threaten the balance of the coast. But quality information about the nature, extent and intensity of these factors on the seagrass, coral and other underwater resources is needed before sensible interventions can be made.
The ACRAMAM (Anguilla Coastal Resource Assessment, Monitoring and Management) project was a UK Department For International Development (DFID) Overseas Territory Environment Programme (OTEP) project aimed to fill this gap. It built an information system to link field collected data to the desks of key government decision makers. theNRgroup is working with Atkins Water (UK), Floyd Homer (Trinidad), University of Newcastle (UK) and Vanderbilt University, Nashville (USA), and the Government of Anguilla to map the current resources, establish monitoring systems, integrate within a Geographical Information System (GIS) and provide training and capacity to key staff in species identification, field work techniques, data management and information provision.
To begin, the coastal resources were remapped. In 1995, a map was produced of coral reefs, seagrass beds and other nearshore resources from 1991 aerial photography. After 14 years and several hurricanes, major changes have been observed and a full remapping from IKONOS 1m satellite imagery has been completed. With field work to identify key substrate and habitat types, and to verify the satellite interpretation, a new map has been created and changes between 1991 and 2004 quantified.
A second phase built an integrative GIS combining data from the field with planning, administrative and management information. Coordinated by the Physical Planning Department, it used their data with that from the Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources (DFMR), Lands and Surveys, Anguilla National Trust and Anguilla Hotel and Tourism Association and delivered it through the internet to the Chief Minister’s Office and other ministries.
Training was given in the methods used to assess the extent of resources, and in field work techniques, monitoring regimes and data management to key stakeholders. Most importantly, an extensive review of the procedures and protocols for marine resource monitoring was developed and established for DFMR for their current and longer term capabilities.
The information provided integrated within current government activities; to provide assessment, information for quarterly and annual reports, critical indicators, daily and strategic planning functions and environmental education, in multimedia formats. theNRgroup gave overall project management support, GIS development and implementation and marine resource identification from remotely sensed sources. The ACRAMAM project was completed in mid 2006.