Project Manager of the White River Fish Sanctuary, in St. Ann, Reanne McKenzie, says the entity has planted more than 2,700 pieces of coral over the past three years, to restore the reef and increase the fish population.
Speaking to JIS News in a recent interview, Ms. McKenzie said the figure represents more than half the target of 5,000 pieces of coral to be planted in five years across the 150-hectare special fishery conservation area.
“So, we are well on the way with the corals,” said Ms. McKenzie.
She also outlined that indications from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and local fisherfolk are pointing to an increase in the size and population of the fish in the sanctuary.
“Another goal of the sanctuary is to reach 500 per cent increase in fish number and size in five years. NEPA does reef surveys every year for us and they would tell us that we are on the right path. We also get a lot of positive feedback from the fishermen around who say they are seeing more fish and bigger fish in and outside of the sanctuary,” Ms. McKenzie noted.
“So, we are using these positive feedbacks to say we are definitely on the way to achieving this goal soon,” she added.
Ms. McKenzie indicated that preserving and sustaining marine life should be at the forefront of every stakeholder in the sector, and that the organisation is committed to this task because for many, “fishing is their only source of income and livelihood.”
“A lot of people are saying fishing will never end or it is a renewable resource, but that is just not the fact. Also, there are a lot of different things happening like global warming, coral reefs being degraded, overfishing and pollution causing the [fish] numbers to be getting lower and lower,” she noted.
“So, it is an important resource and we (White River Fish Sanctuary) pool all our efforts on restoration, education and working with the fishermen. We feel that after the five years, we will continue because it is all about continuing to improve the marine environment and getting the community to understand the concept of sustainable fishing,” she added.
The White River Fish Sanctuary forms part of a $16-million investment from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and other stakeholders to ensure sustainability of the fish sanctuary.