Blue Halo Initiative
Caribbean-wide, communities are seeing declines in the health of coastal ecosystems and fish populations, with significant social and economic consequences. The Waitt Institute Blue Halo Initiative seeks to empower these communities to create and implement ocean policies that include sustainable fishing practices and comprehensive ocean zoning.
SFG has been working with the Waitt Institute to provide scientific input to marine spatial planning processes in the Caribbean. Some of the work includes synthesizing site-level background literature, conducting research on financing mechanisms, and providing technical and analytical support for marine spatial planning.
The Blue Halo Initiative’s first project was in Barbuda, a small island in the Eastern Caribbean. SFG provided support to the project by compiling a synthesis of broad scientific guidance regarding marine protected area network design. In partnership with SeaSketch, SFG also developed a tool to empirically compare alternative zoning proposals, providing a transparent method of evaluating the proposals to help inform the ocean zoning process in Barbuda.
On August 12, 2014 a suite of new ocean management regulations, including the introduction of five marine sanctuaries, were signed into law by the Barbuda Council. This came after seventeen months of community consultation and scientific research spearheaded under the Blue Halo Initiative.
In February of 2015, the Blue Halo Initiative launched its second and third sites, partnering with the governments of Montserrat and Curaçao. SFG will build off of the work conducted in Barbuda in order to support the Blue Halo Initiative in Montserrat and Curaçao. In addition to providing a tool for evaluation of alternative zoning plans, SFG will conduct literature reviews and compile existing ecological and economic data on the two islands, develop a model for financing the monitoring and enforcement efforts, and perform data-limited assessments of the status of key fisheries species.
In order to conduct these assessments, SFG will develop and help to implement a landings analysis program on both islands to collect data on current catches. This data will enable SFG to provide insight into the current status of the stocks, as well as predict trends under different management scenarios.
Photo Credit: Katherine Siegel