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TCI First in Caribbean for UKs Blue Belt Marine Protection program; gets $1M vessel for DECR

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 6, 2022 – In an effort to get ahead of climate change and protect its oceans, the oceans, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government is leading the pack as the first Caribbean island to officially join the Blue Belt Program. Created bythe United Kingdom it is an initiative that seeks to protect millions of square kilometers of ocean and some of the most unique sea life worldwide.

The announcement was made at a press conference hosted by the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) on May 26th attended by Josephine Connolly Minister of Tourism, Governor Nigel Dakin and other representatives of the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources, DECR.

“The Program supports the UK overseas territories with the protection and sustainable management of their marine environment. The Blue Belt enhances marine protection over four million square feet of marine environment,” explained Lormeka Williams, DECR Director.

That four million square kilometers is home to the coral reefs of the Pitcairn Islands, the Green Turtles of Ascension Island, the Whale Sharks of St Helena, the world’s most remote human settlement in Tristan da Cunha, and the elephant seals and penguins of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands. And now it encompasses the clear Blue waters and migrating humpback whales of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Since its establishment in 2016 the Blue Belt Program  has helped set up Marine Protection Zones (MPZ) or Marine Protection Areas  (MPA) in every territory signed onto the program including the largest MPZ in the Atlantic Ocean (Tristan da Cunha). These zones limit or prohibit entirely fishing and other activities which could prove hazardous to marine life.

Josephine Connolly, Minister of Tourism with responsibility for the environment said she was ‘elated’ at the development.

“My government and I continue to prioritize the sustainable management of our marine environment. Our country’s flourishing tourism product, coastal protection and fishing resources are all hinged on the robustness of our marine habitats,” she said.

Connolly also noted that the program could directly benefit the Turks and Caicos Islands as it would ensure marine protection which would bring lasting benefits to the marine environment and local communities.

A brand new $1 million vessel will be purchased with funds from the UK that the minister says will be used to, ‘demarcate park boundaries and swim zones’. The boat will double as a research boat as well.

Governor Dakin added, “That vessel will help us understand the third biggest coral reef in the world, it will also help us understand a marine protected area that will be established that will protect sharks and rays in our waters, it’s another huge win for us.”

Come June 8th the TCI will be represented in London to mark World Oceans Day with a panel discussion under the theme “Small island Big Impact”.

The Turks and Caicos Islands will be guided by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) which are partners of the Blue Belt Program.

Human impact including poaching and poor fishing methods and destruction of the coral reef, seagrass beds and mangroves are some of the major environmental issues affecting the TCI. The Blue Belt program will provide technology allowing the country to mobilize quickly and have surveillance capabilities in order to prevent poaching.

“We will strengthen the government, increase protection of biodiversity, carry out scientific studies in support of sustainment fisheries management, manage other human activities, improve compliance and enforcement and address international issues such as climate changes, biodiversity and marine litter,” Connolly promised.

Governor Nigel Dakin described the initiative as a ‘double win’ for the Turks and Caicos coming on the heels of the recent signing of the Climate Change Charter.

Caribbean News

600 young Farmers & Fishers for 21 million JMD gender-sensitive, climate resilience project

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#Jamaica, 15 August 2022 – Jamaica 4-H Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are partnering to strengthen the climate and disaster resilience of 600 young farmers and fishers, in support of national efforts to shore up food security against climate crisis.

Farmers and fishers from select communities in Clarendon, Manchester, St Elizabeth, Westmoreland, St Thomas are slated to benefit under a 21.3 million JMD pilot project launched Thursday (11 August) at the Jamaica 4-H Training and Production Centre at Denbigh.

Six hundred will receive awareness building resources on climate smart agriculture and value-added income generating opportunities in their sectors; 175 of the 600 will be trained and certified in crop and livestock production, fisheries, and agro processing; and 110 trained and certified beneficiaries will get venture inputs, technical support, and coaching to support a successful start in business.

In a bid to address gender inequities that typically restrain the full potential of the sector, the project will provide male and female participants with equal access to resources, training and coaching.

The project is being piloted over six months under the EnGenDER project (Enabling Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate & Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean) with funding from Global Affairs Canada, and the UK Government.

“It is no secret that our women and young people face great challenges in accessing resources to adapt to climate change. If we are to create a future that ensures agricultural security, as we grow smart and eat smart, our youth must be at the forefront of this drive for food security”, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon Franklin Witter stated.

He said youth inclusion is a priority and reiterated government’s policy decision to direct 20% of government owned lands for lease by young farmers. He said the EnGenDER pilot project will strengthen youth resilience to climate change and help to pull vulnerable groups towards maximizing their true potential.

“Gender Equality is the most effective way to reduce poverty and to build a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world”, Canadian High Commissioner Excellency Emma Tudakovic stated in her remarks.  She said the EnGenDER project and its climate change adaptation pilot have provided opportunities to strengthen the integration of gender equality into sectoral planning and implementation processes to strengthen climate resilience.  “It is our hope that with this support, more young persons will become included in these important industries and the project will provide a supportive framework for the ongoing development of the fisheries sector., Ms Tudakovic said.  She emphasized the importance of engaging and encouraging youth to develop solutions to the climate induced challenges faced by the agricultural sector and the need for climate smart agriculture.

Oliver Blake, Head of Jamaica Political and Development Team and Senior Governance Adviser (Caribbean), in the British High Commission underscored the importance of translating global and regional commitments into actionable solutions that touch people on the frontlines of climate change. “Some people round the world have the resources to adapt easily or to move their families and business elsewhere but in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that is not so easy. We know that SIDS did not contribute to climate change, and the first to suffer its effects most immediately. Those first to suffer are those in poorer communities,” Mr Blake underlined.

UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio called for greater investments in gender sensitive resilience programming to strengthen Jamaica’s climate resilience. “A gender equal approach integrating youth, women, men, Persons with Disabilities, and other groups at risk of being left behind, will maximize the resilience and productivity of Jamaica’s fisheries and agricultural sectors,” she said. Ms Antonio said more young people and more young women should participate in these sectors on a level playing field that affords equal access to capital and support for resilient livelihoods and recovery in the event of a climate-induced disaster.  She charged the participants to pass on what they learned to others. “… absorb the resources of this project, apply, and add value to what you have learned. Innovate new methods of securing your outputs and energizing your business ideas as overcomers of climate change, then come back and teach us what you have learned”, she advised.

Jamaica 4-H Clubs chairman Colin Virgo called climate change and food security the two single greatest threats to humanity and called for action to address the threats. “Let us not wait for us to have another record-breaking year of category five storms (caused by climate change); let us not wait until the world breaks out into war over food. Let us not wait until we cannot feed the population of the world,” he warned.

 

Jamaica 4-H Foundation Director Ronald Blake called for food diversification using resilient plants to strengthen food security, cut wastage while combatting combat climate change.  He said the earth creates 90% of its food from only 20 of approximately 20 000 plant species. “We believe if we are going to fix food security, we have to eat some of the things we are no longer eating. Some of these foods are resilient to the changes to the climate,” he explained.

In Jamaica, only 20% of farmers are young people 18 to 35 years of age, and only 31% of youth farmers are female.  In the fisheries sector, this is further reduced to 5.9% females.

 

Release: UNDP

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Caribbean News

TCI Premier and Delegation visit NCI in Jamaica

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#Manchester, Jamaica, 14 August 2022 – The Honourable Charles Washington Misick, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and his delegation have arrived at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Central Jamaica.The Premier will give the address at the second commencement ceremony and will be conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Commerce Degree.  The Premier completed high school at West Indies College which is now NCU more than 50 years ago.  Premier Misick and his delegation are on a four day visit to Jamaica.The Office of the Premier and Public Policy will bring commencement live on its Facebook page at 2PM EST.The Premier’s delegation includes: First Lady, Mrs. Delthia Russell-Misick; Hon. Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services; Hon. Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Service; Mr. Wesley Clerveaux, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Service; Ms. Althea Been, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Immigration and Border Services; Mr. Miquel Swann, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Office of the Premier and Public Policy; Mr. Edwin Taylor, Commissioner of Labour; and Mr. Bentley Johnson Aide De Camp.

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Bahamas News

Polio is back; 65 million missed shots in another COVID fall out

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, August 4, 2022 – For the first time in almost a decade a new case of polio was recorded in the United States. The case which ended in paralysis emphasizes the danger the region faces as vaccination levels drop to 30-year lows.

The World Health Organization warned in early July explained that vaccination in the region of the Americas and the rest of world was dropping rapidly because of various spin off effects precipitated by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Over 65 million infants missed out on basic vaccines in the last three years thanks to disruptions in routine healthcare, lockdowns and other circumstances. The effects are already being felt as once eradicated disease like measles and polio are once again emerging.

The Pan American Health Organization announced earlier this year the Americas are now facing another measles outbreak after having been declared free of the disease in 2016.

Dr. Jarvis Barbosa, Assistant director of PAHO said vaccination levels are now as low as they were in 1994 for measles and polio and Brazil has had several outbreaks of measles.

In the case of the United States an unvaccinated young adult developed the disease after contact with another individual vaccinated with a live version of the vaccine.

The breakout polio case in the US sent shockwaves across the country because of the severe nature of the disease. Polio is an extremely dangerous disease with no known cure. It causes paralysis in as many as 1 in 200 infected and that paralysis is permanent.

Normally very few school age children would be at risk in the Americas as the vaccine is required to start school but with the gap in vaccinations many more children are now at risk.

Polio was one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century, paralyzing and killing hundreds of thousands, especially children. Thankfully vaccinated individuals are not at risk and as such the WHO is advising that the best way to protect against polio is vaccination.

 

Photo Caption:  Child in Benin takes Polio vaccine, UNSDG

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