The Government will continue efforts to protect the island’s ecosystem during the current fiscal year, as just over $55 million has been allocated in the 2012/13 Estimates of Expenditure, to fund mitigation of the threat of invasive alien species (IAS) in the insular Caribbean.
Spearheaded by the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, through the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the project aims to mitigate threats to local biodiversity, including terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems, and their economies, by predators such as the lionfish, through a range of activities.
These include: increasing national capacity to address the potential risks posed; increasing regional co-operation to reduce same; strengthening public awareness and best practices; increasing capacity to strengthen prevention of the introduction of new IAS; and increasing capacity to respond, control and manage IAS impacting globally significant biodiversity.
The project, which started in August 2009 has, up to March 2012, seen the establishment of a national steering committee; drafting of a national invasive species strategy; creation of a Caribbean invasive species strategy; and launching of an awareness campaign in 10 schools, among other undertakings.
Activities scheduled for the remainder of the project period up to August 2013, include: completion of the regional IAS strategy; formation of national marine, freshwater, and terrestrial working groups; training for fisher-folk; and heightening public awareness and education campaigns.
The project is being jointly funded by the Government of Jamaica and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter