On 24 January 2017, WWF Guianas and the EU signed and launched the project "Promoting Integrated and Participatory Ocean Governance in Guyana and Suriname: the Eastern Gate to the Caribbean". This project will significantly enhance protection of marine and coastal resources of Guyana and Suriname through designation of MPAs and informed marine spatial management.
The Promoting Integrated and Participatory Ocean Governance in Guyana and Suriname: the Eastern Gate to the Caribbean
project has been initiated in partnership with co-applicants Green Heritage Fund Suriname (GHFS) and key national regulatory agencies Guyana’s Protected Areas Commission (PAC) and Nature Conservation Division (NCD) of the Suriname Forest Service (‘s Lands Bosbeheer). At the first signing ceremony in Paramaribo the Regional representative of WWF Guianas, Laurens Gomes and the EU Ambassador, MR. Jernej Vicetic, gave the official launch of the project in Suriname. A second signing ceremony will take place in Georgetown, officially launching the project in Guyana also.
The area around which the Promoting Integrated and Participatory Ocean Governance in Guyana and Suriname
project will take place, supports important fisheries, major nursery grounds, spawning grounds and a rich diversity of marine species and is of both regional and global significance. Whilst key threats are recognised (overfishing of some species; increased hydrocarbon exploration) there are significant data gaps which hamper efforts to sustainably manage the marine environment.
Overall, this project will fill critical information gaps by developing comprehensive and visually appealing spatial data (a GIS atlas and 3-D ocean map), enabling informed decision making regarding marine protection and management. Specifically, this project will deliver in 2 critical outcomes which will create a substantive positive impact on the marine environment:
1) designating 10% of Suriname/Guyana EEZ as an MPA (from a baseline of 0%)
2) catalysing enhanced marine spatial planning (MSP) processes which will provide an ecosystem based framework for managing activities in the marine environment.
With this aim of 10% protected marine territory in mind, Michael Hiwat, WWF Guianas Marine Coordinator, stressed that full engagement and empowerment of key ocean users, including key agencies adopting leading roles within this project, will ensure robust decisions are taken regarding designation of MPA sites and enhanced marine spatial planning.
It is envisioned that increased marine protection and strengthened governance will safeguard biodiversity and enhance food security, protect livelihoods, increase resilience and support socio-economic development in these countries.
Overall, the Promoting Integrated and Participatory Ocean Governance in Guyana and Suriname: the Eastern Gate to the Caribbean
project, will demonstrate that compelling data, participatory spatial planning and targeted capacity building can conserve biodiversity and foster economic activities compatible with ocean health.