Press Release January 18th2001

The Barbados Marine Trust bmtrust at
Thu Jan 18 11:15:05 EST 2001

Press Release          January 18th2001

The Barbados Marine Trust wishes to express it’s horror at the report in
today’s Nation newspaper on the damage done to our coral reefs by visiting
yachts. Our coral reefs are of prime importance, not only to us as an island
nation but also as a habitat to tens of thousands of species of plants and
animals. Such wanton destruction must not be disregarded and those
responsible must be brought to justice.
We would appeal to the authorities involved to take whatever action is
necessary to ensure that the culprits are not only brought before the courts
to face charges for this criminal act, but are forced to make reparation for
the destruction caused to our reefs. The livelihoods of our fishermen,
dive-boat operators and the operations of the  Folkestone Marine Park will
all be adversely affected immediately by this damage. The long-term effects
of such damage will be reduction in the number of fish and coral species,
not only in the immediate area but in the surrounding areas for years to
The Barbados Marine Trust is currently working on an artificial reef
project, and estimates that the repairs to the reef will cost approximately
BDS.$150,000.00. The damage to the reef could be repaired by deploying ”Reef
Balls” –specially designed structures which mimic the natural reef. It will
take a minimum of 5-8 years to restore the reef to  a reasonable condition
and approximately 50 years before the artificial reef becomes a “natural
reef”. The Barbados Marine Trust is willing to undertake this task
immediately should the funding be made available
It is imperative that immediate action be taken to deal with the individuals
responsible for this incident, and that systems be put in place to prevent a
recurrence in the future. The Tourism industry is one of the fastest growing
sectors of the global economy and one which benefits most from the coral
reefs. It is also one of the most destructive to the reefs. Caribbean
countries on average derive over half their GNP from tourism. The tourists
to the Caribbean are attracted to the white sandy beaches which are
maintained through the natural erosion of the coral reefs. Coastal reefs
buffer the adjacent shoreline from wave action and the impact of storms.
This in turn protects the coastal populations as well as the mangrove
fisheries and the wetlands.
If properly managed, reefs can yield on average 15 tons of fish and other
seafood per year per square kilometre. Coral Reef species offer particular
promise to the medical industry , because of the array of chemicals produced
by these organisms for self-protection. Corals are already being used for
bone grafts, and many chemicals may offer new treatments for leukemia, skin
cancer and other tumours.
We wish to re-iterate our commitment to the preservation of the Marine
Environment and call upon the Government of Barbados to take a firm stance
and ensure that those responsible for this damage are made to pay the price
for their thoughtless acts of destruction.

Loreto Mayers
Executive Director

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