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  • The out-planting exercise, conducted in partnership with the Negril Area Environmental Protection Trust (NEPT) forms part of the Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (IWEco) Project, as well as activities to mark International Coastal Clean-up Day on September 19.
  • For her part, Executive Director, NEPT, Keisha Spencer, pointed out that the entity continues its efforts to combat the declining coral reef populations, through transplanting corals from its nursery to the reef, which she noted is a crucial step towards maintaining healthy marine ecosystems in the Negril area.
  • Objectives of the IWEco Project are to restore historical hydrological and other physical processes in the Negril Great Morass; enhance and re-establish native vegetation communities to provide habitat to wetland biological resources; and implement institutional arrangements to ensure the long-term sustainability of the area.

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), on Friday (September 25), planted some 150 pieces of corals onto the reef at the Orange Bay Fish Sanctuary, as part of efforts to restore the reef systems in Negril, Westmoreland and surrounding areas.

The out-planting exercise, conducted in partnership with the Negril Area Environmental Protection Trust (NEPT) forms part of the Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (IWEco) Project, as well as activities to mark International Coastal Clean-up Day on September 19.

Speaking with journalists, Project Manager, IWEco Jamaica, Loureene Jones, said that reefs in Negril and surrounding areas have been experiencing continued levels of degradation due to indiscriminate fishing, land pollution and natural disasters.

She noted that NEPA, through the IWEco project, is fulfilling its environmental responsibility to regenerate these natural treasures as, without reefs, there is no buffer to protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and storms.

“We thought this was apt as NEPT is the manager of the fish sanctuary where the coral nursery is located, so they are doing activities to conserve the acropora palmate and acropora cervicornis, which are two endangered coral species. When the corals are grown to a certain size, then they are defragmented and placed on the reef to rebuild that reef area. So again, we can restore biodiversity and bring back the natural function,” Ms. Jones said.

For her part, Executive Director, NEPT, Keisha Spencer, pointed out that the entity continues its efforts to combat the declining coral reef populations, through transplanting corals from its nursery to the reef, which she noted is a crucial step towards maintaining healthy marine ecosystems in the Negril area.

The nursery, which was established in 2019 with the support of the Environment Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) is one of the largest efforts in western Jamaica in relation to coral restoration.

“Based on an assessment that was done in 2015 with support from the EFJ, we recognised that we had the acrapora species… and that we could establish a nursery to propagate them and also support our coral reef restoration programme,” Mrs.  Spencer noted.

She said that NEPT recognises the value that the reef provides to the economic sustainability of tourism and also the livelihood of fisherfolk.

“[It is] our second out-planting exercise where we have planted fragments from our nursery to the reef. The target number that we aimed for was 150 pieces to be planted out on the reef as part of our coral restoration activities,” Mrs. Spencer noted.

Objectives of the IWEco Project are to restore historical hydrological and other physical processes in the Negril Great Morass; enhance and re-establish native vegetation communities to provide habitat to wetland biological resources; and implement institutional arrangements to ensure the long-term sustainability of the area.

The project is being funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment).

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