As part of efforts to mitigate the threat of invasive alien species in the Caribbean, the Government has allocated some $41 million to the project.
This is contained in the 2013/14 Estimate of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives.
The project, being implemented by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), seeks to mitigate the threat to local biodiversity and economy from these organisms in the Caribbean, including terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems.
Invasive alien species are plants, animals, pathogens and other organisms that are non-native to an ecosystem, which may cause economic or environmental harm or adversely affect human health. In particular, they impact adversely upon biodiversity, including decline or elimination of native species – through competition, predation, or transmission of pathogens – and the disruption of local ecosystems and ecosystem functions.
Anticipated targets for this fiscal year include: hosting public meetings on pilot project activities; conducting regulatory impact assessment of the Pet Trade and other identified sector; Draft a National Invasive Species Strategy; continue producing awareness raising materials (poster, brochures); develop and implement a public awareness campaign for invasive alien species (IAS) in Jamaica; and continue conservation efforts in Black River Lower Morass.
The project will continue to see the trapping of predators in core Iguana nesting areas; the continuation of training of fisher folk and related interest in handling Lionfish; the development of a Lionfish Adaptation Management Plan; and the completion of legal instrument for management of the Pet Trade.
Physical achievements up to February 2013 include: completion of the Caribbean Invasive Species Strategy; project personnel participated in regional and international meetings relevant to IAS; awareness raising initiatives launched in schools within pilot project sites, and contract for advertisement displayed at the Norman Manley International Airport renewed; participation in over 40 expos; procurement of two all terrain vehicles for the Black River pilot; Knowledge, Attitude and Practices Survey conducted in the Hellshire Hills and Old Harbour Bay Areas; and artificial nesting site for Iguanas constructed.
There was also removal of predators from the core Iguana conservation zone; fisherfolk and related interests trained in the handling of Lionfish; ongoing survey of the Lionfish continued – database, in water surveys, passive capture mechanism; and three papers prepared and presented on lessons learnt from the pilots.
The project which commenced in October 2009 is slated to end in March 2014.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter