The Caribbean possesses a unique bio-diversity characterised by fragile ecosystems. Caribbean countries compete for ocean resources including fish, oil, gas and minerals, which they rely on for their economic development.
The Commonwealth has been assisting the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariat, which has nine member countries, with the development and implementation of a regional ocean policy, the first of its kind in the Caribbean.
Dr Julian Roberts, an Ocean Governance Adviser in the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Economic and Legal Section said: “Designing and implementing effective governance and management strategies is critical to addressing the challenges posed by the increasing impact of human activities on the world’s oceans and to ensure the effective management and sustainable use of living and non-living marine resources.
“The adoption of the regional ocean policy is an important first step in implementing a more integrated approach to ocean management in the eastern Caribbean.”
The process to establish the policy began in February 2012 with a meeting between senior officials from all nine OECS member countries and experts from the Commonwealth Secretariat and OECS Secretariat. This was followed by consultations with OECS member countries.
In early 2013 the OECS Authority approved the “Eastern Caribbean Regional Oceans Policy and the Three Year Strategic Plan”. The policy now provides the framework for enhanced coordination and management of ocean resources within the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS now has a key role to play in regional ocean governance.
OECS Director General Dr Len Ishmael said: “The Policy has completely captured the essence of what the OECS Secretariat is trying to promote and will guide the future sustainable use and development of the region’s marine waters and resources.”
The Commonwealth Secretariat will continue to support the OECS to develop ocean governance initiatives at both the regional and national level. The Commonwealth Secretariat has already provided assistance to St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines with the development of national maritime policies.
The Commonwealth Secretariat provides legal and technical advisory services concerning maritime boundaries, ocean governance and natural resources to member countries throughout the Commonwealth.
£275,000 over a five-year project term