30 August 2005

Caribbean urged to do more to protect coastlines

Caribbean countries have been told that the tourism industry could face severe economic problems in the future as a result of coastal and marine pollution.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) said in its 2005 Caribbean Environment outlook that the region currently attracts more than half of the world's 10 million scuba divers.

The report said that by the end of this year, diving activities would begin to generate about US$1.2 billion dollars in revenue.

The average diver spends about US$2,100 per trip to the Caribbean compared to US$1,200 by the regular tourist.

But the UNEP report warned that the region's tourism sector could face serious economic problems, because its major attraction, such as coral reefs were suffering permanent damage due to coral bleaching and other factors.

Last year, WRI said that nearly two-thirds of the Caribbean coral reefs were threatened by coastal development especially along the coastline of the Greater Antilles, while in the Lesser Antilles, one third of the coastline is threatened by sediments and pollution.

It said that human activities had threatened over 80 per cent of the reefs in Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominica Republic.

AIMS also warned that in the three countries, deterioration of coral reefs is greater because the economic development of these countries is highly dependent on the marine environment.

The AIMS urged the authorities to make the conservation of reefs a high priority.

These three international environmental agencies have recommended multi-sectoral approaches in planning and land use, increase involvement of fishermen in conservation and increase ongoing environmental education in the region.

They have also urged regional governments to formulate an action plan to deal with the situation.

Source: www.antiguasun.com


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