Conferences@UWI, 11th Faculty of Science and Technology Conference, Science for Society: F.I.T. for purpose

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Science, Art and Community: A Collaborative Approach to Protecting Fish Stocks

Dayne Buddo, Francesca von Habsburg, Mona Webber, Suzanne Palmer, Karl Aiken, Markus Reymann, Fabian Kyne, Machel Donegan, Denise Henry, Dee Kyne

Last modified: 2018-04-10


In 2013, The University of the West Indies and The Thyssen Bornemisza Art Contemporary Academy, Austria, established The Alligator Head Marine Lab in Portland, Jamaica. The main focus was to conduct sound marine scientific research to guide local policy and legislation, establishing clear baselines and ecosystem health indicators to build a case for the protection of this critical coastline.

Community participation was key to the project’s success. Local fisherfolk were engaged from the start and involved throughout the decision making process. Over 40 Public consultations and workshops were held at various fishing beaches, schools, community centres and community events in partnership with CARIBSAVE and Portland Environment Protection Association. The Cabo Pulmo National Park, Mexico; a UNESCO world heritage site and internationally renowned model of community-lead participatory management was also engaged to share best practice solutions and guide discussions.

In July 2016, the East Portland Fish Sanctuary was officially gazetted under the Jamaican Fishing Industry Act, protecting 6km2 of critical coral reef, deep reef, mangrove and seagrass habitat. The Alligator Head Foundation was established that same year to manage the Fish Sanctuary and is working with its partners to empower communities to adopt more sustainable livelihoods through the delivery of research, education and training initiatives. This interdisciplinary approach, coupled with the use of art, science and media aims to unite collective action and restore productivity, environmental sustainability and bring growth to the area.

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