NEPA Monitoring Marine Parks


The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has been carrying out several monitoring exercises at the Montego Bay, Negril, and Ocho Rios Marine Parks, under the Climate Change Adaptation for Disaster and Risk Reduction Project.

These parks comprise ecological structures such as coral reefs, seagrass beds, sandy shores, rocky shores, and mangrove forests.

Speaking with JIS, on a tour of the Montego Bay Marine Park in St. James, on Wednesday, (February 15) Project Coordinator at NEPA, Nichelle Oxford informed that the agency has been mandated to implement innovative ways of becoming more resilient to climate change, in light of the frequent occurrences of natural hazards.

She pointed out that climate change is likely to occur, and although it cannot be prevented, there are several ways of becoming more resilient to it, by monitoring coral reefs.

“We have installed four data loggers in the Marine Park protected area, and the purpose of these data loggers is to monitor temperature, because temperature rise is associated with climate change, which negatively impacts our coral reefs,” she explained.

Data loggers are devices that records temperature at different intervals, which are carefully monitored by NEPA. It also helps to detect incidences that are likely to happen.

“With this bit of information, we are able to determine the status of the reefs throughout the year, and are able to caution tour operators of which reef to avoid, to lessen the negative impacts caused by manmade factors,” she noted.

Miss Oxford informed that the information accumulated from these devices are currently being used as an indicator to determine when coral bleaching is likely to occur, based on the temperature reading.

She explained that coral bleaching occurs when sea temperature rises, which resulting the loss of protection of the reefs. Therefore, focus is being placed on these ecosystems, with respect to climate change. 

She outlined that it is crucial to monitor coral reefs, because they are very sensitive to temperature, and functions as a natural buffer against increased storm activity, storm surges, and tropical systems that help to protect the shore lines.

Miss Oxford told JIS News that several artificial reefs have been put in place at the Montego Bay Marine Park, as well as the replanting of sea-grass to further protect the nation’s shore line.

“We are committed to playing our part, which involves increasing the resilience of climate change to boost these areas,” she said.

Other components of the project involves the re-establishing of sand dunes, replanting of mangroves in degraded coastal areas, such as, the Palisadoes protected area, Portland Bight in Clarendon, and Great Morass and Refuge Cay in St. Thomas.

 

By Jeneva Gordon, JIS PRO

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