Ocean Action Hub

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The Caribbean addresses the scourge of plastic pollution

11 Jul 2019 - 75-80 % of marine litter in the Caribbean Sea comes from land, and most of it consists of plastics. States are taking action and momentum is building.

11 Jul 2019 - 75-80 % of marine litter in the Caribbean Sea comes from land, and most of it consists of plastics. Together with agrochemical run-off and domestic wastewater, it is one of three priority pollutants for the wider Caribbean region.

"Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste. Microplastics in the seas now outnumber stars in our galaxy. From remote islands to the Artic, nowhere is untouched. If present trends continue, by 2050, our oceans will have more plastic than fish. The message is simple: reject single use plastic. Refuse what you can't reuse. Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world,” said United Nations Secretary General António Guterres.

Governments are taking note. Throughout the region, many have banned, or are considering bans on single-use plastics, including plastic bags and Styrofoam. 

Antigua and Barbuda led the charge in 2016 with a five-phased approach to getting rid of plastics. Following extensive consultation with stakeholders, they decided to incorporate the ban into existing legislation rather than create new laws. They then ran the campaign “Make a difference one bag at a time”, and listed government-approved alternatives such as bagasse. As a result of these actions, the proportion of plastic dumped at landfills declined from 19.5 per cent in 2006 to 4.4 per cent in 2017.

The momentum continues. More than 18 territories have banned single-use plastics or Styrofoam products, while three countries have introduced bans at local levels, two have announced bans to begin in 2020 and 2021, 14 are discussing it within government and four have begun public consultations.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/caribbean-addresses-scourge-plastic-pollution

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Innovative financing and regional dialogue are central for a thriving ‘blue economy’

25 Nov 2018 - The blue economy concept holds great potential for coastal communities around the world, including the Caribbean.

25 Nov 2018 - The concept of ‘blue economy’ is gaining momentum. It is all about using ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving ocean and coastal ecosystem health. It includes economic activities, such as sustainable marine energy, sustainable fisheries, better management of ocean waste and ocean-related eco-tourism. The blue economy holds great potential for coastal communities around the world. Take for example, the Caribbean.

At the Board of Governors Meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), 30-31 May 2018, the focus is on resilience, against the backdrop of one of the most devastating hurricane seasons the Caribbean region has experienced in recent history. As a contribution to the meeting, CDB and UNDP have partnered on a report to spark dialogue around the ways in which Caribbean countries can build resilience by adopting a ‘blue economy’ approach to development. The report identifies the financial challenges in the region, highlights innovative financing options that could be tested, and discusses policy and regulatory enablers to advance blue economy strategies at national and regional level.

What are the challenges? Financing investments in key blue economy areas such as sustainable infrastructure or research and development remains a significant challenge for Caribbean countries with a narrow economic and tax base, and in many cases high public debt. The debt-to-GDP ratio is over 60 percent in 12 out of 20 Caribbean countries according to Moody’s. Graduation of Caribbean countries to upper-middle and high-income status meanwhile has resulted in the decline of development aid by about 50 percent between 2006 and 2016, according to the World Bank, as well as restricted their eligibility for concessional finance. However, the region remains disproportionately vulnerable to environmental shocks and climate change. In 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria caused damages to Dominica estimated at more than 225 percent of GDP. This means affected countries need to find additional resources for relief and reconstruction.

What can be done? To finance blue economy investments, it is crucial that Caribbean countries have easier access to concessional finance and innovative debt instruments, such as countercyclical loans (allowing debt service to fall in the event of a major shock). There is also a need to explore innovative finance models, such as blended finance (combining public and private investment), impact investment (investing to generate impact alongside a financial return) and blue bonds (tapping into capital markets to fund ocean-related environmental projects). The report shows that these are underexplored areas for the Caribbean.

There are examples to learn from. Seychelles is one country championing the blue economy model. It has combined several innovative finance models to fund sustainable ocean-development and conservation. It issued its first ‘Blue Bond’ in 2017 to raise US$15 million to finance the transition to sustainable management of small-scale artisanal fisheries, including measures aimed at rebuilding fish stocks, harvest control measures, post-harvest and value adding activities, and scientific and sector support services. It also implemented a debt-for-nature swap combining $15.2 million of impact capital and $5 million in grants to buy back a portion of Seychelles’ debt at a discount, using the proceeds to fund marine conservation and climate change adaptation through a new trust fund named Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust.

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What is the Blue Economy? Part 1: Leveraging innovative finance for Caribbean blue economy growth
21 Nov 2018 - Small islands are seeing the tangible advantages of pivoting their national development strategies towards the sustainable use of the ocean.

Justin Ram, Caribbean Development Bank           VIEW ORIGINAL
Gail Hurley, UNDP

30 Oct 2018 - UNDP BlogOne of the more recent terms emerging from the kaleidoscope of colored economies (brownblackorange) is the ‘Blue Economy’. While it may seem like following on the latest buzz of the development community, there are very tangible advantages for small islands to pivot their national development strategy towards the sustainable use of the ocean. In this 2-part blog series, we first introduce the concept and its advantages, then we discuss innovative financing mechanisms that can be used to direct investment to the sector.

A 4-Point Policy Checklist for Diving Deeper into the Blue Economy

The earth’s oceans have been described as the last economic ‘frontier’. Globally, ocean-based activities generated over US$1.5 trillion in economic output in 2010 and were directly responsible for over 31 million jobs, primarily in fisheries, tourism, off-shore oil and gas exploration and port activities. By 2030, on current trajectories, the ocean’s value added is expected to rise to US$3 trillion, and associated employment to over 40 million. However, the state of the world’s oceans and seas threatens these benefits. Climate change, pollution and overfishing pose significant threats to the sustainability of the oceans and the economic rents they could provide. For small island states where the ocean’s role as a source of subsistence and income is magnified, business as usual cannot continue.

What can we do differently? How can Caribbean countries more effectively leverage their ocean and coastal assets for economic and social development, while protecting these assets? This is the topic of the research paper, “Financing the Blue Economy: A Caribbean Development Opportunity,” produced jointly by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Adopting a “blue economy” approach (in which the economic value of marine assets is maximised while the health of marine and coastal ecosystems is protected) could help usher in a new development paradigm for the Caribbean. The paper proposes four key sectors for highly targeted interventions over the coming years: fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, renewable marine energy, and marine transport.

What does this imply in practice? And crucially, what can Caribbean policy-makers and the international community do to create an environment where the blue economy can thrive? 

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2018/leveraging-innovative-finance-for-caribbean-blue-economy-growth.html

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What is the Blue Economy? Part 2: Show me the money

15 Nov 2018 - The blue economy represents the long-term sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources. This UNDP blog looks at ways this can be financed in the Caribbean.

15 Nov 2018 - Efforts to exploit the Caribbean’s ocean resources are not new; coastal tourism and fisheries are well established industries. However, the blue economy concept represents a (relatively) new paradigm shift in that it is centred on the long-term sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources in both traditional and new ocean-based industries. Part 1 in this blog series offered four policy suggestions for Caribbean governments who wish to pursue this approach. Part 2 looks at ways this can be financed.

While governments may be inspired by the blue economy paradigm shift, their pockets may not be quite so deep. Innovative financing mechanisms – such as those discussed in the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) recent paper “Financing the Blue Economy: A Caribbean Development Opportunity” – will be critical if the sustainable benefits of the blue economy approach are to be realised. This is especially the case in key blue economy sectors, such as marine renewable energy, which can carry high investment costs for relatively small economies.

Marine renewable energy remains an under-explored area in the Caribbean, yet it is one in which investment can – and must – be accelerated. Many Caribbean countries have set themselves ambitious targets to diversify their energy mix. For example, Barbados aims to derive 65% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030; Montserrat is aiming for a 100% renewable energy grid by 2020. Yet investments in renewables are low and the Caribbean region remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Electricity tariffs are high, averaging 35¢/kWh (compared to just 12¢ in the US and 20¢ in the UK).

The region has large untapped sources of renewable energy with huge solar, wind, geothermal and marine energy potential. There are however multiple challenges associated with leveraging private sector investment: limited economies of scale and substantial environmental vulnerabilities diminish the attractiveness of these opportunities for investors. This is coupled with a limited awareness of opportunities, the lack of a high-quality investment pipeline and weak national capacities for project design and implementation. These factors all contribute to high financing costs. Many investments in these areas have, to-date, been financed by bilateral and multilateral development partners; however resources remain limited.

Part 1 of this blog series showed how governments could take policy measures to accelerate private investment in the blue economy through, for example, de-risking investments and improving the business environment. The joint CDB-UNDP paper also shows that innovations in finance can also play an important role to catalyse investment.

For example, contingently recoverable grants (where a grant is converted to a loan should the project go ahead) and new insurance products can help reduce the risks and upfront costs associated with the exploratory phase of capital intensive projects. CDB has explored a mix of loan, grant, and contingently recoverable grant financing on a number of sustainable energy initiatives in its borrowing member countries. This strategy has helped to strengthen governments’ positions when coming to the table with major private sector interests, and enabled them to negotiate fairer terms and resource allocations. Opportunities for blended finance in support of the blue economy also remains underexplored across the Caribbean.

Green and blue bonds should also be explored. Fiji recently became the first small island state to issue a green bond for investments in renewable energy and resilience to climate change. The Seychelles has piloted a blue bond for investments in sustainable fisheries development, with partial credit guarantees issued by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility to help lower interest costs.

High debt ratios in the Caribbean (in 2017, the average public-sector debt stood at 64.3% of GDP compared to 48.3% across emerging and developing countries) make debt-for-nature swaps an attractive avenue to pursue.

Extreme environmental vulnerabilities also create opportunities for new insurance schemes, such as the coral reef insurance being piloted in Mexico by The Nature Conservancy and UNDP. The restoration of key ecosystems which can effectively and rapidly sequester carbon could also help to position Caribbean countries within the international carbon sequestration market. UNDP and Grenada’s Blue Innovation Institute are currently exploring whether impact investment could be harnessed to support coral reef, mangrove and seagrass bed restoration.

Aside from investing in renewable energy and resilience-building ventures, there are opportunities for the Caribbean to transition established industries, e.g. fisheries, tourism and marine transport to more sustainable practices. The implementation of marine reserves or no-take areas as well as more sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices have emerged across the Caribbean and can yield a triple dividend: ecosystem and biodiversity preservation, the protection of livelihoods while at the same time serve as a major tourist attraction. It is equally important that individuals and enterprises operating in these sectors are formalised so they can contribute tax revenues, and access finance and insurance.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2018/show-me-the-money.html

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Financing the Blue Economy: A Caribbean Development Opportunity

Within the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and CDB’s Strategic Plan, “Financing the Blue Economy: A Caribbean Development Opportunity” examines the potential of the blue economy

to drive sustained and inclusive economic growth. The Paper, a joint initiative between CDB and the United Nations Development Programme, also explores factors that can constrain our Region’s ability to take full advantage of the ocean’s potential. New and high-value blue economy growth industries such as aquaculture, marine biotechnology, deep seabed mining, and ocean renewable energy remain under-developed in our Region.

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Iniciativa de Pesquerías Costeras en América Latina

La Iniciativa de Pesquerías Costeras — América Latina es un esfuerzo conjunto de las autoridades ambientales y pesqueras de Ecuador y Perú, países del Pacífico Sudeste que comparten una rica b

iodiversidad y los recursos pesqueros de la zona de transición entre los Grandes Ecosistemas Marinos de la Corriente Humboldt y del Pacífico Centroamericano.

Los días 10 y 11 de mayo, diversos especialistas y autoridades de Perú y Ecuador se reunirán en la ciudad de Piura para el lanzamiento oficial de este proyecto. Durante el evento, se presentarán las acciones a ejecutar en el marco de la implementación del proyecto en los próximos 4 años , principalmente en lo relacionado a objetivos, actividades, alcances, metas, indicadores, presupuesto, procedimiento de implementación, coordinación, arreglos de gestión y alianzas con socios estratégicos.

Este proyecto surge como un esfuerzo conjunto del Ministerio del Ambiente de Perú y del Ministerio de Acuacultura y Pesca del Ecuador, con el apoyo técnico del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD) y el financiamiento del Fondo para el Medio Ambiente Mundial (GEF).

Cabe precisar que esta iniciativa es parte del Programa Global CFI (Costal Fisheries Initiative por sus siglas en inglés) que incluye a otros dos proyectos “child” en Indonesia y África del Este, además de una Alianza Global (Fondo Competitivo para la Innovación – Challenge Fund) como mecanismo de coordinación y gestión del conocimiento.

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Perú y Ecuador por una pesquería artesanal más sostenible

Durante los días 10 y 11 de mayo, las autoridades de Perú y Ecuador se reunirán para el lanzamiento oficial de la Iniciativa de Pesquerías Costeras (CFI) en América Latina.

Durante los días 10 y 11 de mayo, las autoridades de Perú y Ecuador se reunirán para el lanzamiento oficial de la Iniciativa de Pesquerías Costeras (CFI) en América Latina. Este proyecto binacional fortalecerá la gobernanza de las pesquerías costeras en ambos países a través de enfoques más integrales para una producción que permita recuperar los recursos pesqueros, poner en valor la biodiversidad y generar empleos sostenibles.

Actualmente, estas pesquerías enfrentan muchos desafíos como la sobreexplotación de los recursos. Esto ha ocasionado que muchas de las comunidades que dependen de la pesca no accedan a ingresos económicos y se encuentren marginados en la toma de decisiones.

Este proyecto surge como un esfuerzo conjunto del Ministerio del Ambiente de Perú y del Ministerio de Acuacultura y Pesca del Ecuador, con el apoyo técnico del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD) y el financiamiento del Fondo para el Medio Ambiente Mundial (GEF).

De esta manera, el proyecto CFI tiene como socios implementadores en Perú al Ministerio del Ambiente, Ministerio de la Producción y a los gobiernos regionales de Piura y Tumbes, quienes trabajarán con las autoridades locales y comunidades pesqueras para lograr que en los próximos 4 años se mejoren: (1) las condiciones para la gobernanza de las pesquerías costeras, (2) la planificación espacial marina costera y, (3) el desarrollo de “comunidades prácticas” que permitan sistematizar y replicar las lecciones y buenas prácticas compartidas.

Cabe precisar que esta iniciativa es parte del Programa Global CFI (Costal Fisheries Initiative por sus siglas en inglés) que incluye a otros dos proyectos “child” en Indonesia y África del Este, además de una Alianza Global (Fondo Competitivo para la Innovación – Challenge Fund) como mecanismo de coordinación y gestión del conocimiento.

El evento, a realizarse en la ciudad de Piura en Perú, contará con la presencia de diversos especialistas del PNUD en Perú y a nivel América Latina y El Caribe. De parte de los gobiernos, participarán la viceministra del Ministerio del Ambiente de Ecuador, Eulalia Pozo; el viceministro de Acuacultura y Pesca de Ecuador, Jorge Costain; quienes junto a Javier Atkins, viceministro de Pesca y Acuicultura del Perú, y Erasmo Otárola Acevedo, director general de Ordenamiento Territorial Ambiental del Ministerio del Ambiente, conforman la Junta Directiva del proyecto.

Foto: Giulianna Camarena / PNUD Perú

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Perú y Chile renuevan alianza por una pesca sostenible

Tras un arduo trabajo conjunto, los gobiernos de Perú y Chile concluyeron el diseño de un proyecto binacional que busca asegurar el uso sostenible de los recursos marinos vivos que ambos países com

parten en el Gran Ecosistema Marino de la Corriente de Humboldt.  

En la actualidad dicho ecosistema representa el 20% de la pesca del mundo y se estima que tal porcentaje podría ser aún mayor si se solucionan ciertas incertidumbres relacionadas a los efectos del cambio climático.

Es por eso que los gobiernos de Perú y Chile hoy renuevan sus esfuerzos mediante el proyecto “Catalizando la implementación de un programa estratégico de acción para la gestión sostenible de los recursos marinos vivos compartidos en el sistema de la corriente de Humboldt” que reducirá las actuales presiones humanas en este ecosistema, aumentará la resiliencia ante el cambio climático y generará, así, oportunidades para las economías de ambos países.

Este proyecto binacional estará orientado a implementar el Programa de Acción Estratégico (PAE), suscrito por Perú y Chile en el 2016, y se llevará a cabo a través del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD) con financiamiento del Fondo para el Medio Ambiente Mundial (GEF, por sus siglas en inglés) y de los gobiernos, el sector privado y ONGs de ambos países.

Cabe mencionar que las entidades ejecutoras serán el Despacho Viceministerial de Pesca y Acuicultura (DVPA) del Ministerio de la Producción del Perú y la Subsecretaria de Pesca (DUBPESCA) del Ministerio de Economía de Chile.

En los próximos años, se espera lograr: (1) una mejor gobernanza de las pesquerías de ambos países, con énfasis en el stock de anchoveta del sur de Perú y norte de Chile; (2) el manejo integrado de las zonas marino-costeras gracias a acciones piloto en las Bahías de Paracas e Iquique que puedan ser un modelo replicable en toda la región; (3) proteger y asegurar la biodiversidad y la sostenibilidad de estos ecosistemas a través de intervenciones modelo en los distritos de San Juan de Marcona (Perú) y Chipana e Isla Grande de Atacama (Chile), así como crear una red de cooperación técnica en áreas marinas priorizadas para la conservación del Sistema de la Corriente de Humboldt; (4) promover una producción pesquera diversificada, con nuevas oportunidades dentro y fuera del sector pesquero; (5) promover la seguridad alimentaria, con el incremento de la oferta interna de consumo de recursos hidrobiológicos y el cuidado de los aspectos sanitarios relacionados con la pesca; y (6) difundir ampliamente las lecciones aprendidas. 

Este proyecto forma parte del portafolio de Aguas Internacionales del GEF y  se alinea en un contexto global que reconoce a los océanos como elemento clave para impulsar, y asegurar, el desarrollo sostenible.  La fase previa de este proyecto también fue ejecutado por el PNUD y financiamiento GEF teniendo como puntos focales al Instituto del Mar del Perú (IMARPE) y al Instituto de Fomento Pesquero de Chile (IFOP).

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PERU AND CHILE RENEW AN ALLIANCE FOR SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES

After an arduous joint work, the governments of Peru and Chile completed the design of a binational project that seeks to ensure sustainable use of the living marine resources, shared by both count

ries in the Great Marine Ecosystem of the Humboldt Current.

At present, this ecosystem represents 20% of the world's fisheries and it is estimated that this percentage could be even higher if remained uncertainties related to the effects of climate change are solved.

That is why the governments of Peru and Chile today renew their efforts through the project "Catalyzing the implementation of a strategic action program for the sustainable management of shared living marine resources in the Humboldt current system" which will reduce the current human pressures in this ecosystem, increase resilience to climate change and thus generate opportunities for the economies of both countries.

This binational project will be oriented to implement the Strategic Action Program (PAE), signed by Peru and Chile in 2016, and will be carried out through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with financing from the Fund for the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and governments, private sector and NGOs from both countries.

It is worth mentioning that the executing agencies will be the Vice-ministerial Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Ministry of Production of Peru and the Undersecretariat for Fisheries and Aquaculture (DUBPESCA) of the Ministry of Economy of Chile.

In the coming years, the project is expected to achieve: (1) better governance of the fisheries of both countries, with emphasis on the stock of anchovy from southern Peru and northern Chile; (2) the integrated management of marine-coastal zones thanks to pilot actions in the Paracas and Iquique Bays that could be replicable throughout the region; (3) protecting the biodiversity and sustainability of these ecosystems through model interventions in the districts of San Juan de Marcona (Peru) and Chipana e Isla Grande de Atacama (Chile), as well as creation of a technical cooperation network in marine areas prioritized for the conservation of the Humboldt Current System; (4) promoting diversified fish production, with new opportunities within and out of the fishing sector; (5) promoting food security, with the increase in the internal supply of hydrobiological resources and taking into account sanitary aspects related to fishing; and (6) wide dissemination of the learned lessons.

This project is part of the GEF International Water Portfolio and it is aligned in a global context that recognizes the oceans as a key element to promote and sustainable development. The previous phase of this project was also executed by the UNDP and GEF financing, with the Institute of the Sea of Peru (IMARPE) and the Fisheries Development Institute of Chile (IFOP) as focal points.

Translation by Bora Kim, UNV in Forests and Climate Change Topics 

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How hurricanes such as Irma and Maria can devastate the Caribbean marine environment

28 Sep 2017 - Hurricane Irma – one of the strongest on record to hit the Caribbean – recently scoured the islands leaving catastrophic damage in its wake.

28 Sep 2017 - Hurricane Irma – one of the strongest on record to hit the Caribbean – recently scoured the islands leaving catastrophic damage in its wake. And just as we began to piece together the devastating and potentially long–term impacts of Irma, Hurricane Maria has now left another path of destruction. Puerto Rico, the British dependency of the Turks and Caicos, and many other Caribbean islands have suffered what have been described as “apocalyptic conditions”.

When the world talks of the tragic and devastating consequences of severe hurricanes, the focus tends to be on the land, and the people who live in affected communities. Indeed, nearly 30 people have been reported killed, while Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez has said that the hurricane has set the country back by “20 to 30 years”. We see images of toppled trees, torn off roofs and severe flooding. But marine environments can be also badly affected by hurricanes, with potential long-term effects.

The force of hurricane winds, and the resultant tides and waves are so strong that both plants and animals are ripped from the sea floor leaving lifeless rubble and sediment behind. Hurricanes have a washing machine effect: they mix up coastal sediments with knock-on effects for marine life. Suspended matter left floating in the water column limits the amount of sunlight that reaches marine habitats and so reduces growth and recovery. Meanwhile in shallow coastal environments, debris, sewage and run-off continue to flow in to the sea long after the hurricane has passed.

Human dependency on the sea

The devastation of coastal environments, particularly seagrass meadows, can also result in long-term losses of the benefits that humans receive from them, such as fisheries support or coastal protection. Damage to these ecosystem services consequently impacts human well-being, because people can no longer rely on them for their livelihood and food supply.

Some of the most severely affected areas of the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean – Florida, Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the British Virgin Islands – all house extensive seagrass meadows. These shallow water marine habitats support valuable lobster fisheries, as well as shrimp, conch, and finfish fisheries. Seagrass also stabilises sediments and protects the white sand beaches that attract so many tourists to the region.

Previous hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons (weather events which are essentially the same but have different names depending on where the storm happens) across the globe have shown the severe negative effects they can have on these vital seagrass meadows. The seagrass plants are ripped up or buried under sediments, leading to their suffocation. The extensive associated murky water leads to widespread loss of seagrass, as was seen in the years that followed hurricane Katrina hitting the US.

Initial indications from the Everglades in Florida show that seagrass destruction in the wake of Irma is extensive, with large piles already being washed far onshore. This should ring alarm bells for Caribbean fisheries, as hurricanes Katrina and Rita led to losses in the seafood industry that reached billions of dollars. The Caribbean spiny lobster fishery business alone is worth more than US$450m, and directly employs 50,000 people. Healthy seagrass provides the best fishing grounds with the greatest revenue, and the recent hurricanes have the potential to decimate this.

Environmental impact

But this is not just about money. Seagrass loss also threatens marine biodiversity and the health of charismatic species. After a severe cyclone in Australia in 2011, turtles and dugongstarved due to the damaged meadows. In addition, seagrass is a marine powerhouse, which stores vast amounts of carbon in meadow sediments. When the seagrass is removed, this carbon is released back into the environment.

Hurricanes have always been a part of life in tropical seas. The destruction they cause and their recovery have been observed throughout human history. What is alarming now, however, is the apparent increased frequency and intensity. The already poor state of the Caribbean marine environment restricts the ability of habitats such as seagrass meadows and coral reefs to recover from the effects of severe storms. Poor water quality and over-fishing, for example, promotes the overgrowth of algae, preventing recovery. With repeated hurricanes occurring over time periods that are insufficient for recovery to occur, this will only get worse.

The severity of hurricanes Irma and Maria are a wake up call. We need a fundamental shift in how marine environments are protected to enable long-term sustainability for the food and income they provide. Many locations in the Caribbean, for example Puerto Rico, have ineffective marine protection rules and so destructive practices continue unchecked, meaning that when a disaster does occur, the environment is unable to recover.

Although local actions against climate change are difficult to achieve, it is possible to manage river catchments to improve water quality, and focus on small scale immediate actions, such as implementation of marine protected areas to limit immediate and direct damage to coastal resources. Coordinated small scale actions will ultimately help enhance the resilience of the Caribbean Sea, and make sure that the environment can better recover from any future extreme events.

CONTINUE READING: http://theconversation.com/how-hurricanes-such-as-irma-and-maria-can-dev...