A combination of inexperience, misinformation, disregard for the established legal and institutional framework and an attitude that may be perceived as arrogant -- beyond the bounds of reason and rationality -- have led to the hijacking of the Sandy Island Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area (SIOBMPA). An objective and professional approach to problem solving would have negated the probability of feeding Draconian instincts and a path to the illegal edict -- by a permanent secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Carriacou of Petite Martinique Affairs – disbanding the legal and constitutionally stakeholder elected chairman and board of SIOBMPA and installing an imposter chairman who has been presiding over a nonexistent board since October 22, 2013.
TERMS OF REFERENCE: SANDY ISLAND / OYSTER BED MARINE PROTECTED AREAs MANAGEMENT BOARD – paragraph 11. ESTABLISHMENT & LEGAL AUTHORITY
The Grenada the Fisheries (Marine Protected Areas) Order, 2001 (SRO No 77 of 2001) regulations section (4) provides for a Management Committee for MPA. This Committee which was appointed by Cabinet in 2010 has the legal responsibility for the management of all MPAs in the tri-island state.
The MPA Management Committee has the mandate to delegate responsibility for the management of a particular MPA to a stakeholder Board or stakeholder Committee; the SIOBMPA Management Board shall be authorized by the MPA Management Committee to carrying out management responsibilities for the SIOBMPA.
The Co-management agreement
Entered between SIOBMPA and the National MPA Management Committee signed on 30/7/2010 by the chairman of the National MPA Committee, the then chairman of SIOBMPA co-management board and witnessed by the former Minister of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs, Hon. George Prime reiterates: “…Whereas the National MPA Management Committee is mandated under the Fisheries (Marine Protected Areas) regulations, SRO #78 of 2001 to manage all Marine Protected Areas nationally and to do all things necessary for the sound management these protected areas…”
The parameters of authority are irrefutable, clearly vested in the National MPA Committee by the Cabinet of the Grenada government and no other person, persons, organization or organizations or government entity or department.
Furthermore, SusGren a registered NGO both in St Vincent and Grenadines and Grenada, and highly acclaimed regionally and internationally that has from to time secured program funding for SIOBMPA, recently made the following observations:
“Presently there are a string of issues plaguing SIOBMPA which if not addressed urgently could result in loss of the progress of this MPA made since its launch in 2010.
These issues include:
1. Due to board dissolved months ago there is no direction for SIOBMPA as it related to other issues that follow:
2. There is no effective management of the daily operations of the MPA due to termination of the manager a few months ago.
3. The issue of the current Tyrrel Bay Marina development that is impacting on the oyster bed. This problem is sending a contradicting message as it relates to the effective management of the MPA. This issue, if not handled properly can create a serious problem for the MPA and an key stakeholders (like fishers)
4. The only mooring field in the MPA which at one point had over 30 moorings has now been reduced to only three (3) remaining. This is seriously affecting fee collection and enforcement of rules as it related to anchoring, not forgetting damages to corals.
5. Patrol and enforcement are frequently cancelled because of engine failures.
6. Lack of monitoring gears and training for trainee warden staff. Only one set of dive gear is present within the MPA.
7. There is general lack of capacity to reporting and proper administration. For this reason SIOBMPA is months behind on reporting and implementation on their CARIBSAVE project which ends in November and should be addressed urgently.”
It is also significant that as of this writing neither National MPA coordinator nor the National MPA managing committee and chairman have received any communication about the decision taken by the Carriacou PS.
The PS seems to have acted, consciously or unconsciously, with abandon and disregard for a Grenada government Cabinet conclusion.
There was no disclosure by the PS, no due process opportunity for the chairman and board, rule by fiat the order of the day. After only six weeks in office and one meeting of the board, it seemed that a silent “doctrine of necessity” was invoked to throw the “conspirators” out. This assumption is not entirely unfounded since the vice-chair (selected by the PS as the new chairman of a phantom board) had constantly bemoaned that the election of new officers supervised by the eminent former Principal of Hillsborough Government School, Mr Henry Stiell, in August 2013 was a “conspiracy.” The vice-chair seemed miffed with the position!
Critical questions must now be answered:
1. Will an MPA without a stakeholder board be recognized by key international donors?
2. Can the Carriacou MPA, at present constituted without stakeholders, legally have the support of the National MPA management Committee?
3. Has the Carriacou MPA been able to garner any new funding since the stakeholder board was disbanded?
4. Has the MPA been able to pay long overdue outstanding bills?
5. Has the present situation contributed to low morale among staff and the MPA affected community?
6. How many months has the Caribsave report been behind (late and not submitted to Caribsave)?
7. Whose responsibility is it to complete the report on time?
8. When was the last time the report was completed on time?
9. How many reports are outstanding?
10. When will the staff person paid by the Caribsave grant receive his salary?
11. How many functional yacht moorings remain at Sandy Island?
12. Why have MPA wardens been assigned to duties unrelated to the MPA?
These are a few of the more perplexing hurdles that must be removed if the MPA is to have any chance of sustainability. It is highly unlikely that any positive changes in the status quo at SIOBMPA will occur without the intervention of the Minister of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs.
Luther L Rennie
Legal and Constitutionally Stakeholder Board Elected Chairman of SIOBMPA