TTAL joins IMA for Marine Resilience Initiative
Posted Jun 10, 2022
In continued efforts to support sustainable tourism development and the protection of Tobago’s environment, the Tobago Tourism Agency Limited joined the Institute of Marine Affairs on June 9th, 2022, to replant seagrass along Tobago’s coastlines in the first phase of the Marine Resilience Initiative (MARIN) Tobago project.
MARIN is an 18-month pilot that seeks to determine the appropriate and feasible rehabilitation strategies for the coral reefs and seagrass beds surrounding Tobago. Officials from the Tobago Tourism Agency Limited dove in head first, giving hands-on support to the first seagrass replanting exercise at Kilgwyn Bay – a secluded stretch of beach on the island’s southwest coast, that is also a nesting ground for endangered sea-turtles.
According to the MARIN project brief, seagrass beds in southwest Tobago have been impacted by land-based pollution, coastal development such as land reclamation, and acute disturbance events, such as Sargassum influx. MARIN Tobago seeks to determine the feasibility of coral and seagrass rehabilitation strategies given their current ecological state, existing disturbances and management practices.
TTAL’s Director of Product Development and Destination Management, Mr. Narendra Ramgulam, and Product Development Officer Ms. Eleanor Lewis, joined IMA’s Research Officer Mr. Atish Kanhai and his team for the delicate process of attaching young seagrass plants to wire frames, and directly pinning them to the seabed. Volunteers from the Speyside Eco Marine Park Rangers, some as young as 14 years old, also participated in the conservation exercise. Mr. Ramgulam stated:
“Seagrass is integral to providing a safe and nutrient rich habitat for marine life such as our parrot fishes, turtles, and other diverse underwater species which visitors travel here to see, so protecting the natural environment is part and parcel of developing a sustainable tourism product in Tobago. The environment is our biggest natural asset, which is reflected in our strong international reputation as a premier dive destination, and paradise for birders and nature enthusiasts.
In fact, most times the tourism industry is extractive in nature, where we just take things from our environment. Today, we are showing we are putting back something into the island’s environment by partnering with the IMA to do some seagrass planting, which has a lot of benefits for the marine environment.”
This latest collaborative environment project is among a series of initiatives the Tobago Tourism Agency has been pursuing, as part of fulfilling its mandate of a sustainable tourism sector for the island. The activity coincided with the global recognition of World Oceans Day - usually celebrated on June 8th - and helped the Tobago Tourism Agency Limited to continue partnering with key environmental stakeholders to maintain the destination’s assets, and keep sustainability at the forefront of the island’s tourism development.