An initiative aimed at stimulating the rebirth of coral reefs in Antigua and Barbuda has been launched in Barbuda.
Attended by top government officials, including Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Tourism Minister Charles Max Fernandez, Housing Minister Maria Browne and Barbudan Senator Knacyntar Nedd-Charles, the occasion marked the inaugural deployment of The Ocean Shot project led by scientist, Dr. Deborah Brosnan, in partnership with philanthropist and entrepreneur, John Paul DeJoria.
Ocean Shot is the first programme of its kind to take action for the world’s oceans.
The initiative plans to use technology that mimics the design and shape of natural reefs to provide opportunities for colonisation by coral and other marine life.
The constructed reef modules will also help protect nearby coastal communities from storm surge and sea level rise.
According to the project scope, “Serving as protective barriers for coastal communities against wave action, the coral reefs enable people to set up homes and businesses closer to the ocean. Coral reefs mitigate sand flow to beaches, replenishing the sparkling white beaches that make the Caribbean a global tourist hot spot.
“The sand itself is thanks to coral and a very important local species that feeds on it. The Ocean-Shot project is starting to operate in Antigua and Barbuda and will be replicated in other Caribbean and Latin American locations. The programme may also find a home in other parts of the world in the future.”
The Institutional partner for this project is PADI, whose President and CEO is Dr. Drew Richardson. As the leader in the dive industry, PADI’s engagement and partnership will ensure wide reach for this effort and that it will be embedded in dive practices.
Additionally, this programme will form the basis of the PADI AWARE Foundation’s development of best practices guidelines for coral reef restoration and monitoring for the dive industry.
The Antigua and Barbuda Government is also a partner. Prime Minister Browne has been directly involved along with Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Samantha Marshall, Minister for Environment and Health, Sir Molwyn Joseph, and Barbuda’s Senator Nedd.
They have pledged their full support, and that of their agencies, to advance the effort.
The project also is closely allied with Antigua and Barbuda’s policy of ocean resilience and the blue economy which is being developed with key support from the University of the West Indies Five Island Campus.