US Marines help destroy Coral Reefs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Kurt Cordice sre at
Wed Jan 10 20:13:19 EST 2001

Hello Coral listers,

Some advice on the following matter would be greatly appreciated:

At this moment, there is a US Marine Engineering unit here in Union Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Their mission is to assist the Government of St. Vincent with the building of an addition to the local well as the construction of a new coast guard base for the country. 

However, the location of the Coast Guard base is very disturbing. In an informal general survey taken before their arrival, it was found that the sight not only had a healthy stretch of Mangrove (most of which has already been destroyed in the country) and a fairly wide seagrass bed, but also the presence of higher than usual numbers of juvenile fish of several different species...and the presence of healthy and developed elkhorn coral (which had suffered a huge die-out in past years and is only now beginning to recover). 

Some government departments and NGOs who knew of the plan had advised against it, and we were all awaiting the opportunity to voice our concerns before the plan was formally approved. However, it seems that somehow, it already has been. 

Construction has begun. Over 100 ft. of mangrove trees have been removed, and a portion of the seagrass has already been covered in mud running off from the construction on land. The Dredger (supplied by the US Military) will be arriving next week to start the construction of the dock. Dredging in this areas will not only endanger the immediate area of reef, but a line of extremely healthy, and pristine reef that is down current from the site. Additionally, this site is well within a Fisheries Conservation Area, which prohibits damage to coral reefs by law. 

Now, it is understood that the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is condoning the construction of the base, and there is some need for a local coast guard presence in the area...but it must be understood that the Island of Union has already suffered great losses of valuable reef and mangrove areas over the past few years due to "development". The island is dependent on tourism and fishing for the livelihood of its people. There must be another way! 

And it is particularly ironic that a country which seems to be making great strides towards the protection of marine habitat in its own waters, is so willing to come and help us destroy ours. Those of us that are here trying to convince the leaders of this nation that the environment matters have received a huge set back because of this is also a blow to the moral of  people here, convincing them further that they cannot make a difference. 

The mangrove has already been cut, and the seagrass will probably be all but gone soon due to the mud...but there is still time for the reef. The dredger is due next week. Does anyone out there know of anything that could be done? Anyone that may be appealed to..that could delay the dredging until the reef can be assessed properly and a possible alternative found??? We have video footage both on land and well as some monitoring information if that would help convince them.  There is really nothing more that we can do from this end. The only hope is to stop the dredger thorough US connections until we can resubmit protests here... 

Any help or advice would be appreciated. 


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