Blue is the colour of the Caribbean. Some islands even have their own special shade of blue. In Anguilla, “blue” has a new connotation. It has just joined an exemplary group of countries who are saving the planet’s oceans under the Blue Belt Initiative.
Through the Blue Belt Initiative, the UK’s Ocean Conservation Programme is addressing some of the pressing problems that plague the world’s oceans today. Coastal management, biodiversity loss and plastic pollution are among the most urgent issues. Joining the initiative means that Anguilla will focus on responding to local marine challenges, saving their fragile coastline and preserving dwindling fish stocks from illegal and inappropriate overfishing in its waters. Success on any front will help local fisherfolk, spur economic development, reduce poverty and adapt to climate change. In this manner, Anguilla will demonstrate its commitment to biodiversity and the sustainable management of its marine resources.
Participation in the Blue Belt Initiative will help Anguilla achieve its aim to become the most sustainable island in the region. Government officials have committed to improving the governance of marine and coastal ecosystems, achieving equal economic opportunities and restoring and conserving biodiversity to become a true-Blue Economy. They also pledge to revive a decade old promise to invest in Anguilla’s Exclusive Economic Zone. An EEZ is crucial to the economy of island states and showcases how Anguilla can maximize the benefits of sustainably managed territorial waters for the good of the oceans as a whole. Challenges to be overcome are the monitoring of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in Anguillian waters. Better training for stakeholders will be an important step in the establishment of sustainable fisheries.
Speaking about the Ocean Conservation Programme a spokesperson noted that “terrible harm” has been done to the world’s oceans, from plastic pollution and overfishing to climate change. Oceans and seas are critical to all life on Earth, from the air everyone breathes to global food security.
Anguilla’s participation is an important step in ensuring that every country does everything in its power to protect the oceans. The island state’s aim is to be seen as a model for the Blue Economy through their approach to conservation, sustainable fisheries and outstanding marine protected areas systems. It will be an opportunity to emphasise the enormous potential of Anguilla’s marine economy which, if the initiative is properly implemented, will increase employment and productivity, creating new job opportunities, improving livelihoods and impacting the next generation.
Photo: L-R: Hon. Lord Goldsmith; H.E. Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, Governor of Anguilla; Hon. Minister Quincia Gumbs Marie; Hon. Dr. Ellis Webster, Premier of Anguilla