Adaptive Mooring Management Plan Sandy Island Oyster Bay Marine Protected Area Carriacou, Grenada (2016)
Given the significance of tourism in the region, the marine protected areas (MPAs) of the Grenadines must aim to protect marine ecosystems while also supporting tourism activities. Yachting is the primary tourism activity occurring within the Sandy Island/Oyster Bay MPA (SIOBMPA). Anchor damage to coral reef and seagrass ecosystems is believed to be one of the key threats posed by yachts. In addition, anchors can act as a vector for the invasive seagrass Halophila stipulacea.
In order to reduce the threats of yachts, notably their use of anchors, the Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program (CMBP) funded by USAID has provided resources to support the installation of additional fixed mooring systems within SIOBMPA, which is a CMBP core conservation site. The mooring systems should be strategically sited, adequately promoted, and sufficiently monitored and maintained in order to maximize the benefits of mooring systems. This Adaptive Mooring Management Plan is intended to guide the installation and management of new mooring systems and recommend approaches to monitor and mitigate the impacts of yachts mooring overnight in the MPA.
Historical visitation data from SIOBMPA were analyzed to provide insight on park usage (number of yachts, people per boat, time spent in MPA, size of boats, regulatory violations). Information from key stakeholders including charter yacht companies, MPA management staff and dive operators was incorporated into the management plan. Stakeholder input was key in determining the feasibility of proposed management approaches, including potential strategies to mitigate the threats associated with increased mooring systems. In-water assessments of the current mooring systems in SIOBMPA were conducted. The data (location, depth, system components, condition, bottom type) was used to create a mooring database. Google Earth was used to map the current locations and identify sites for the new mooring systems. The new sites were selected based on bottom type, depth, currents, and proximity to significant features. Seventeen sites for new yacht moorings and eleven sites for new small boat moorings were identified within L’Esterre Bay. South of Sandy Island, thirteen new yacht mooring sites and twelve small boat mooring sites were identified. Table 1 provides a summary of the mooring systems recommended for immediate installation.
Area of interest: Grenada