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A Massive Seaweed Bloom Is Smothering Life from the Caribbean to West Africa

By Grant Currin, Live Science Contributor | July 5, 2019

A Massive Seaweed Bloom Is Smothering Life from the Caribbean to West Africa
A huge bloom of Sargassum seaweed is clogging up the Florida Keys. Credit: Brian Lapointe, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

For eight years, thick mats of seaweed have smothered coral reefs, trapped sea turtles and brought economic instability to coastal communities as reddish-brown gobs of foul-smelling sargassum wash onto beaches along the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and tropical Atlantic.

These phenomena are symptoms of a massive seaweed bloom scientists are calling the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt. Researchers describe the belt and explore its causes in a study published July 4 in the journal Science.

Stretching up to 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) from the Gulf of Mexico to just off the coast of western Africa, the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt appears to be the product of natural and human-caused factors.

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“We analyzed almost 20 years of satellite records,” Mengqiu Wang, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of South Florida and co-author on the study, told Live Science. [Earth from Above: 101 Stunning Images from Orbit]

The researchers analyzed a dataset that predates the belt’s first appearance in 2011, allowing them to investigate the long-term environmental changes that set the stage for the year-to-year variations in the growth of the bloom.

They identified a tipping point around 2009 when discharge from the Amazon River brought unusually high levels of nutrients into the Atlantic Ocean. Upwelling of nutrient-rich water off the west coast of Africa in the winter of 2010 further enriched surface waters with deep-sea nutrients; that upwelling also lowered temperatures of that surface water, allowing sargassum to thrive in the summer of 2011.

A similar combination of factors led to especially large blooms in 2014, 2015 and 2017. The largest recorded bloom occurred in 2018, when the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt grew to a mass of more than 20 million metric tons. The high levels of nutrients from the Amazon River come from deforestation and fertilizer use in the Amazon basin.

Under normal circumstances, sargassum provides critical habitat for marine life. The seaweed oases attract fish, birds and sea turtles as well. Dolphins and sea turtles also benefit from the tiny patches of life floating in the open ocean, but thick mats of sargassum pose big problems for some wildlife and coastal communities.

Mengqiu Wang was performing field work in the Gulf of Mexico last year when she saw dolphins seeming to enjoy their foray through the Sargassum.
Mengqiu Wang was performing field work in the Gulf of Mexico last year when she saw dolphins seeming to enjoy their foray through the Sargassum. Credit: University of South Florida

“As sargassum decays it consumes the oxygen, creating low oxygen conditions, which is not a good condition for marine life in a coastal ecosystem,” Wang said. Coral reefs and seagrass ecosystems can suffer when high levels of sargassum change water chemistry and block organisms from moving freely.

“Sea turtles sometimes can’t swim through the dense mats to return to open water after laying their eggs,” she said.

The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt is also having an effect on coastal tourism. Barbados declared a state of emergency in 2018, according to a government statement, as sargassum piled onto the beaches the island nation relies upon to draw tourists.

“The negative impacts occur when sargassum starts to pile up on the beaches,” Wang said. In addition to disrupting coastal ecosystems, decaying sargassum releases hydrogen sulfide, a potentially harmful gas that smells like rotten eggs.

Originally published on Live Science.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Environment, International, Local, News, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

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Saharan Dust returns across the Eastern Caribbean with a vengence

Adapted :  Thursday, June 20, 2019,

Nearly all islands across the Lesser Antilles are experiencing air quality levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups, with the most reduced air quality occurring across Barbados and Martinique as of 11:00 AM. Dense Saharan Dust continues to traverse the Atlantic and Caribbean as all islands across the Greater Antilles, stretching as far as Florida into the United States, are experiencing moderate air quality. Across Trinidad and Tobago, air quality is beginning to deteriorate rapidly, but generally still at good to moderate levels. Persons with respiratory ailments, heart disease, the elderly and children need to take the necessary precautions!

Presently, minimal to mild concentrations of Saharan Dust are present across Trinidad and Tobago, with air quality at good levels across Western and Central Trinidad. Across Eastern Trinidad and Tobago however, a combination of model data and ground stations are indicating air quality is beginning to be quickly degraded, presently at moderate levels.

Air quality index across Trinidad and Tobago as of 11:00 AM Thursday 20th June 2019 as dense Saharan Dust forecast to continue moving across the region.
Air quality index across Trinidad and Tobago as of 11:00 AM Thursday 20th June 2019 as dense Saharan Dust forecast to continue moving across the region.

According to the EMA, the national standard for Particulate Matter (PM) of diameter ≤2.5 µm (PM2.5) is 65 µg/m3 and PM of diameter ≤10 µm (PM10) is 75 µg/m3. This has not been exceeded since the March 2019 Saharan Dust Outbreak. Based on present model guidance, this event is expected to become close or just over the PM2.5 threshold at 62-66 µg/m3 at its peak early Friday morning across Trinidad and Tobago.

In addition, with breezy conditions, and gusts to 60 KM/H, a significant reduction in visibility is forecast out at sea. Marine interests are advised to exercise extreme caution as seas still remain moderate, with waves between 2.0 to 2.5 meters in open waters.

All Lesser Antilles Islands are experiencing air quality levels at unhealthy for sensitive groups, with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago. Countries along the Northern coast of Southern America are experiencing good air quality, while all Greater Antilles islands, stretching as far west as the United States, are experiencing moderate air quality.

Air Quality across the Eastern Caribbean and the Greater Antilles
Air Quality across the Eastern Caribbean and the Greater Antilles

At moderate air quality levels, unusually sensitive groups should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.

The concentration of the dust that follows the wave depends on the strength of the wave as it moves off the West African Coast. This is because of stronger thunderstorms across Central Africa. As strong winds move downward and outward from these thunderstorms, the wind kicks up dust as it moves across parts of the Saharan Desert and transports it into the upper atmosphere. This “plume” of dust follows the axis of the wave as it progresses westward into the Atlantic.

 5-Day Air Quality Index, Saharan Dust Forecast For Trinidad and Tobago. A significant surge of Saharan Dust is forecast to move across Trinidad and Tobago over the next 24-48 hours, reducing air quality to unhealthy for sensitive groups for the 3rd time in 2019. Air quality is forecast to return to good levels by late Saturday into Sunday as Tropical Wave 10 moves across the area.
5-Day Air Quality Index, Saharan Dust Forecast For Trinidad and Tobago. A significant surge of Saharan Dust is forecast to move across Trinidad and Tobago over the next 24-48 hours, reducing air quality to unhealthy for sensitive groups for the 3rd time in 2019. Air quality is forecast to return to good levels by late Saturday into Sunday as Tropical Wave 10 moves across the area.

Dust models continue to show, following the passage of tropical waves, moderate concentrations of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad and Tobago over the next several weeks. Based on the latest model guidance, following this significant surge over the next 24-36 hours, another moderate surge is forecast by June 25 and another by June 30.

 00Z June 20th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model showing several surges of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad, Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean over the next 10 days. Credit: Weatherbell
00Z June 20th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model showing several surges of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad, Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean over the next 10 days. Credit: Weatherbell

Sensitive groups such as persons with respiratory ailments, children, the elderly and cardiopulmonary disease should take the necessary precautions on days where dust concentrations degrade air quality to moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Saharan Dust Precautions
Saharan Dust Precautions

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Climate/Weather, Education, Environment, Featured, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology, TOURISM0 Comments

CDB supports regional trade facilitation initiative - CSME

CDB supports regional trade facilitation initiative – CSME

by Staff Writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jun. 4, CMC – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved a recent grant for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), that will make regional trade easier .

On Monday, the Bank’s Board of Directors signed off on CDB’s support of US$43,665 in grant funding to finance completion of the CARICOM Interactive Marketplace and Suspension Procedure Portal (CIMSuPro).

The CDB says the portal’s development makes it easier for CARICOM states to administer the common external tariff (CET), the system underpinning regional trade, which all CARICOM states are required to maintain. The CET is a uniform set of tariffs imposed by CARICOM members on goods from third countries.

The regional lending agency noted that suspension of the CET can be granted to allow importation of goods in short supply within the Region. 

However, information on the actual supply of goods in CARICOM is limited and officials grapple with a high volume of CET suspension requests.

CIMSuPro seeks to encourage more intra-regional trade by allowing buyers to find regionally produced goods as their first option. The portal allows buyers to find appropriate regional products by description or tariff code.

It also provides an on-line mechanism to create a faster process to handle CET suspension requests.

CDB’s funding will support training and technical support for trade officials and traders.

Director of Projects at CDB, Daniel Best expressed optimism that the portal would contribute to a more enabling environment for Regional manufacturers and producers, saying:

“CIMSuPro is designed to take the CSME process a step further by allowing our producers and our retailers to find each other more easily. CSME is intended to give our producers access to the larger regional market and to leverage economies of scale. A fully operational CIMSuPro will bring greater certainty to intra-regional trade.”

The project is aligned with CDB’s strategic objective of supporting inclusive growth and sustainable development as well as its corporate priority of promoting private sector development, competitiveness and innovation.

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EU launches fund to assist Caribbean countries

EU launches fund to assist Caribbean countries

by staff writer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – The European Union has launched a Euro 28 million (One Euro=US$1.29 cents) Regional Climate Resilience Building Facility that will provide financial resources for technical assistance, disaster insurance and resilient investment facilitation.

The facility is the largest grant-funded resilience building project in the Caribbean to date and will be implemented by the World Bank and the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF).

EU Ambassador, Daniela Tramacere

“What we want from this programme is to address real needs. For this, governments and partner entities will have to define clear priorities, without which a targeted implementation is not possible,” said EU Ambassador, Daniela Tramacere, at the weeklong Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean Conference that is organized by the World Bank in partnership with the Barbados government, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the EU.

The EU diplomat said the action should have as its ultimate objective, the genuine interest of Caribbean citizens translated in terms of resilience building at community and individual levels.

The technical assistance aims to strengthen the capacity of public institutions and civil society organisations which are capable of protecting citizens from disasters. The support to the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility will help countries cope and recover better from the effects of extreme weather events.

“The support to resilient investment will stimulate the private sector to better adapt businesses and jobs to the priority needs of countries and citizens,” she added.

The Regional Resilience Building Facility is one of the many resilience programmes being financed by the EU in the Caribbean. Additional support for countries to build societal resilience by encouraging the transition to green economies and progress towards a sustainable economic path is being provided by various other EU programmes.

The EU said it is also partnering with regional governments and institutions on climate adaptation and ecosystem resilience and on hydrological meteorological data gathering.

Earlier this week, Canada also announced the  launch a CAD$20 million (One Canada dollar=US$0.74 cents) Canada-Caribbean Resilience Facility initiative to help regional countries better prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

“This initiative is being undertaken with Canada’s Caribbean support as a direct response to the lessons learned following the devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean in 2017 that have impacted our neighbouring countries so severely,” says Marie Legault, High Commissioner of Canada to Barbados and the OECS.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Climate/Weather, Earthquake, Environment, Hurricane, International, Local, News, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

Jaden-Sun-Fast-Ferry

Ferry Service Update June 7- 29


Ferry – Jaden Sun

Information coming out of the Government Information Unit informs: “This weekend with the upcoming holidays will see significant changes that will affect both stakeholder and customers significantly.”

The result of that is that the current month will see a number of changes to the Ferry schedule, as follows:

Friday, June 7th 2019 – No Day Tour (Regular Morning and evening Svc in place)

Saturday, June 8th 2019 – Day Tour Service in place

Sunday, June 9th 2019 – No Ferry Service

Monday, June 10th 2019 – Day Tour Service In place

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – No Day Tour (Regular morning and evening svc in place)  

It seems early, but the release noted: “the Access Division’s Buju Trip to St. Kitts scheduled for June 29th, 2019 is cancelled due to low uptake.” 

Special note is invited to the following: From July 6, 2019 ALL Sunday services will depart Montserrat at 10:00 a.m. arriving Antigua at 11:30 a.m. The Departure times out of Antigua remains the same

The Division is reminding that check-in closes 30 minutes before departure. 

Then, “All agents and customs and immigration personnel, please advise your staff on these changes.”

Posted in International, Local, News, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments

DSC_7397 - web

Port Authority renovate to serve better and uphold international standards

by Bennette Roach

Much of the external renovation and reconstruction is well underway


Joseph O’Garro is the Manager of the Montserrat Port Authority, recently referred to as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the recent Port Development launch last week. He invited the media to what he said was a simple briefing exercise to alert the public, “so they can know and appreciate what was taking place in terms impact to them when they come to clear their cargo…”

That was the morning of Friday, May 24, 2019 at the Little Bay port building that houses offices and cargo storage. O’Garro briefly outlined that the works that began couple weeks ago, and was ongoing when the launch took place at the ferry terminal about 100 yards away, on Friday 17th.

He apologised for other members of the management team who he said he would love to be present at the informal briefing, but they were about getting ready to effect the relocation of the offices, as the works were well into full gear.

He introduced those present in Stephie Buffonge from the Comms and Works and Adrian Galloway of Galloway Group who had been awarded the contract to carry out the works, which had an estimated budget total of EC$890,000, which is partner-financed.

He referred to the project as a follow-up of the marine side of the new port development launch in terms of the “landside works that are being undertaken separate and apart to the project, but in support of the project itself.”

The works he said, will be about the offices, administration, Customs and customer area renovations, currently engaged in a material fashion. He explains that the layout as it stands is not very customer friendly, as he later pointed out on the external, the construction of ‘disability access’ to make the premises and the offices accessible by everyone.

“Some of the works undertaken will address the customer friendliness of the facility ensuring we are much more customer oriented. In addition, we are providing additional space for Customs as the accommodation is presently very cramped…”

He added that for the MPA itself they are expanding their own offices to “facilitated some of our expanded national responsibilities,” with regards to their maritime responsibilities that did not receive as much attention in the past as it should have.

He explained: “We will be providing for some additional office space to facilitate some of our expanded national responsibilities, our marine time responsibilities that would not have received as much attention as it should have in the recent past…just examining vessels when they come into our Port, to know that they are compliant with international standards.”

He added, “We intend to embrace a lot more of that responsibility going forward and as such we a going to provide the office space for our officers to work comfortably while they engage in those activities.”

Upgrading to facilitate the disabled, and wheel chair access

One of the initial steps is to ensure that the Port Authority and Customs are in a better position to handle the increase business that we expect and to upgrade the facility…so that we’re more customer focused.

The partner-financed sum of $890,000 is shared with the MPA providing $500,000, with GoM the balance of $390,000.

O’Garro explains the external renovations and relocations

Following a brief explanation of the drawings and the work progression by Galloway and Buffonge relating to the project, the manager now with support of some senior staff provided a tour of the quarters that will housed in temporary accommodation in the parking area where the staff will effectively meet the needs of the public. And of course, to facilitate the construction office operations for both Customs and the Port, “are being relocated to the parking lot into temporary accommodations, as of Monday.”

The project is expected to be completed within six months.

see related: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/new-port-development-launched

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Dupigny DSC_7248web

New Port development launched

Concept design – Full to be available by August

The Government of Montserrat through the Ministry of Communication and Works on Friday, May 17, 2019, conducted the Montserrat Port Development Project Launch which has been seriously undertaken when Premier Romeo announced in February last year, that the funds had been sourced for the project.

The event was hosted at the Montserrat Port Authority – Ferry Terminal Building, with an overflow of persons who were outside of the small available space, but with the apparent intention to afford guests the opportunity to tour the site and to ask pertinent questions, especially that there is not yet a design for the actual port.

Port Authority manager Joseph O’Garro chaired the proceedings which began with the singing of the Territorial song and a prayer led by Fr. Carlisle Vyphius of the Anglican church.

Following, were welcome and opening remarks by the port manager, referred to as the Chief Executive Officer – Montserrat Port Authority on the program; H.E. Governor Pearce, CDB Representative Andrew Dupigny, Head of Infrastructure Partnerships, Hon. Paul Lewis, Minister of MCWEL, a feature address by Premier Donaldson Romeo and finally a vote of thanks by MCWEL Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Beverley Mendes.

Seated in the front row l-r, Governor, Premier, Minister, Dupigny and PS with CDB officials in the back row

Mr. O’Garro briefly in his opening and welcome outlined what most or all of the remarks noted, that the project will provide safe, secure and modern port facility for Montserrat, that will provide critical access and reduce down-time especially in times of poor weather.

He, again like others, in addressing the down time noted that about 12% of the vessels calling at Little Bay had not come into, or leave or port.

CEO O’Garro and Governor Pearce

The Governor said about the project. “It works with the grain of our small island community and it sort of aligns with the niche nature of our economy,” preceding that with the observation. “Size is not everything, quality and balance are key – it matches the scale of little Montserrat – we aren’t going to get and we don’t want almost 4000 berth cruise ships, hopefully smaller ones – we can host graciously…

CDB’s Andrew Dupigny, who has been with the project from early 2017, in his remarks, noted that, “…On completion it is expected that the new facility will provide direct and positive impact on the  economy with the potential that would increase employment, improved productivity and overall improvements in the business environment.

Andrew Dupigny

Sounding like coming straight out of a business case, he continued to say: “Over the long term the provision of a reliable access and connectivity to the island, the movement of people goods and services would increase its creativity potential which would ultimately positively impact growth – improve the efficiency effectiveness and resilience of the port facility to provide safety and accessibility.” –

When we say that this project goes way, 12 years, further than the Premier would later recall, Dupigny noted “This actually dovetails very well with the government of Montserrat’s ongoing activities to restore access and connectivity to the island,” which he said, “…was articulated in the Hon Premiers presentation of the budget address in 2017 when he declared ‘access is perhaps our single biggest challenge to growth.’”

He connected this to: “CDB’s strategic plan for the period 2015 to 19 similarly recognises, the positive relationship between infrastructure economic growth and poverty reduction.”

 He offered, “Good transportation is one of the main elements that supports national development. A Key success of any project especially a project such as this which will impact every community across Montserrat is the participation of stakeholders.”

“We are therefore extremely pleased to see the enthusiasm evidenced by your numbers here this morning as well as a high level of participation in the workshop that took place over the past few days.”

This was a workshop that this long-standing stakeholder in all Montserrat progress media house was excluded and knew nothing about. Such could very well be to the detriment to any project, except for dishonest follow-ups which in the end will as we say be detrimental to Montserrat.

Minister Lewis was firm in his presentation as he set out the history of loss and difficulties with a port that far than less served the required needs of Montserrat, but finally, “a solution.”

He spoke to how, “with unreliable sea access for the last 23 years Montserrat lost opportunities for economic growth, our country’s people suffered other losses, including vessels running aground and the destruction of cargo vessels; loss of fishing vessels and yachts unable to come into port; cost of goods have increased after additional charges were placed on shipping given the uncertainty of docking on arrival in Montserrat and having to wait, perhaps even leave before returning a second time to off load,” referring to unsuccessful attempts as they try to dock in rough waters, having to return to Antigua – the road to a solution has not been without challenges.

He spoke of the benefits to be gained as the project progresses, as well as the revealing that, “The project will also provide employment for 72-100 workers over 18 months to two years.

With all other requirements in place and September this year, for a design and build contractor will take place, thereafter, the successful company will be mobilizing to start work by the end of the year

Funding for this project, after a £23 million offer by the UK was turned down (technically) in early 2014, came with a £14.4 million grant to GoM from the UK government via the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF), augmented by another £7 million budgetary support from the European Union.

With the (CDB) making an initial allocation for the project, advised to GoM in July 2016, an application for the grant made in March 2017, the agreement between the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Montserrat for £14,400,000 was signed by Premier Romeo on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.

Premier Romeo and Minister Lewis

The Premier was set to deliver the feature address for the event. He, following what took his Government nearly three years to get to this point, recently accessing the needed additional funds, he was relieved probably more than excited.

“Today, marks one of the first, breakthrough step towards the fulfillment of a twenty four-year old hope for Montserrat; a protected sea port here in the safe zone.  Yes, the first safe harbour in Montserrat’s history,” he began.

He continued by recalling as many of the arguments that had no doubt, like Dupigny recalled, made in the business case that had to be presented for the port. He quoted DFID: “The principal barrier to economic growth and development on the island is poor physical access.. . . Without the development of Little Bay and Carr’s Bay, improved access, and reduced costs of doing business, Montserrat will remain uncompetitive in attracting [Foreign Direct Investment].”

So he told an appreciable number of many of whom were invited for the event. “The port development project is therefore one of the strategic keys for unlocking growth and building Montserrat’s future.” 

Concurring that this key we will open up the door for local and foreign investment and for self-sustaining, private sector led growth, he added: “It will create jobs during the construction phase, and it will provide more reliable docking for Cruise ships and for cargo vessels.”

Like other speakers he pointed out that “due to rough seas…out of a total of 478 calls, vessels were unable to berth 58 times…one vessel out of every eight had to turn back. “Yes, that is not sustainable. We had to fix the problem,” he said

That’s why a safe harbour “is of vital importance in providing connectivity to the island of Montserrat and for supporting economic activity.”

He reminded of earlier attempts at building a port, that the Government of the day had envisioned a sea port development in Carrs Bay, and it had actually knocked down part of Gun Hill to facilitate the project.

With no design yet in place for the current project, he noted that in the previous case, a design was made and developed, being presented to the public at 60% and 90% points. “But, alas, it was very costly and suitable private sector partners were hard to secure,” but giving no details of the contrasts.  

He recalled also a statement made by former Chief Minister John Osborne, deceased, in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo on July 30, 1990: “With assistance in developing its infrastructure, including a proper airport and a safe harbour, Montserrat could develop a viable economy and opt for independence.”

Before closing his address, the Premier gave an insight as to how the project will move from this launch. “First, through presentations and workshops that have been going on for a few days, we look at preliminary designs, then adjust towards a preferred option. The preferred option will then be fully developed as a technical design, starting in August. Then, once that design is completed and accepted, construction will begin.

He revealed that “Construction will take considerable time, over a year,” with a caution. “However, we must always recognise that we are dealing with the sea, which has its own power, its own ways and its own voice; which can force changes to our proposed schedules.”

He concludes after thanking several key authorities, Minister Lewis, UK govt and other key personel, and then: “Let us see, how we can work together as a people as we put in place one of the foundation stones for building our future.”

Discussing the possible design

The P:S gave a fairly descriptive and comprehensive vote of thanks, praising the Ministry and staff for the work done so far on the project and hosting the morning’s event which ended with people looking at and discussing the site from the concept drawing.

Related: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/planning-to-begin-for-a-breakwater-facility-at-little-bay/

https://youtu.be/jhkzwryf-2w

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-cZXxLq1fMwTeH0q5kA4vBcaQdyCsAbz?usp=sharing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhkzwryf-2w&feature=youtu.be

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Environment, Featured, International, Local, News, TOURISM, Videos0 Comments

Montserrat unique DSC_2268

Montserrat has a Tourism Strategy

Participants at the strategy workshop

Tourism Intelligence International Inc. completed a Tourism Strategy for Montserrat.

Following a comprehensive tour, by the consultants who completed many one on one sessions, facilitated a stakeholders’ workshop in February, they submitted a draft to which comments were sought to be used to create the best path forward for Montserrat Tourism. A strategy was written and approved in early April after a deadline for submission of comments by March 11, 2019.

Here is a brief report of how the workshop in February progressed.

Dr. Auliana Poon

In the course of the February 14, 2019 Montserrat Tourism Strategy Workshop, Dr. Auliana Poon raised the questions, Montserrat’s vision 2050 and Montserrat’s uniqueness. Participants were invited to write on small strips of paper which were then posted on wall charts.

In trying to summarise Montserrat’s uniqueness, participants suggested:

  • Hassle free living
  • Strangers paradise
  • The Montserrat Oriole and Galliwasp
  • The active/living beautiful volcano
  • The volcano experience
  • Buried city
  • Clean, reliable water
  • Nature lovers’ paradise
  • Traditions
  • Safety/negligible or low crime rate
  • Lowest crime rate regionally
  • Dark skies at night for stargasing
  • Our collective experience in our specific environment (thus, history, culture, volcano impact)
  • It is the way the Caribbean used to be
  • Friendly people
  • Close-knit
  • Tradition
  • Peaceful
  • 50 shades of green
  • Pristine
  • Very easygoing lives
  • Getting here is an achievement
  • Tranquil
  • Culture and festival diverse
  • No traffic (issues)
  • Natural spring water
  • Exclusive black sand

The gist of these themes suggests that our key tourism and development assets are tied to our natural and cultural heritage, with particular reference to tranquility, peacefulness, friendliness greenness and the spiciness of a drive-in active volcano experience. At the same time, it was clear that it was a struggle for some participants to see the volcano as a value driver. Perhaps, also, we need to ponder to what extent we suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders, even in the midst of celebrating resilience.

In this context, Dr Poon’s other question on where we hope to be in just thirty-one years’ time, opens up another window on ourselves. In other words, if we now are how the Caribbean used to be, where do we want to go in the next generation?

Participants suggested:

  • Innovative
  • Pristine
  • Vibrant
  • The way the Caribbean used to be
  • Green, tranquil, inclusive and safe
  • Clean, green connected and beautiful
  • Clean, green and self-sustaining
  • Water, black sand, friendly people
  • Alive
  • Sustainable 100%
  • Carbon neutral
  • Crime free
  • Developed
  • Viable
  • Booming
  • Family friendly
  • Connected, green, thriving
  • Dynamic tourism industry
  • Competitively involved
  • Fulfill the National Vision (buoyant, inclusive, prosperous, God-fearing)
  • Wholesome, sustainable
  • Crime-free, God-fearing
  • Sustainably developed
  • Efficient
  • Economically efficient
  • Green, evolving and receptive
  • Highly valued

Here, we may see that there is a desire to keep the best of what we have and to gain self-sustaining prosperity in a green, wholesome, beautiful, God-fearing way.

Now see the completed strategy here:

http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2019-03-29-Montserrat-Tourism-Strategy-2019-2022.pdf?

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NGolden-Author-Photo

Nerissa Golden Named Acting Director of the Montserrat Arts Council


Nerissa Golden

LITTLE BAY, Montserrat – Author and Business Coach Nerissa Golden has been appointed to act as Director of the Montserrat Arts Council (MAC) until a substantive head is found.

The acting director along with member of the MAC Board Reinford “Kulcha Don” Gibbons attended the Regional Cultural Committee meeting in Trinidad last week to be updated on the plans for hosting CARIFESTA and other issues related to the development of cultural industries.

Golden, who sat on the board of directors for two years, resigned in order to take up the current position. She will oversee internal restructuring of operations, as well as prepare for Montserrat’s representation at the CARIFESTA XIV in Trinidad & Tobago this August.

Golden is a former Director of Information & Communications for the Government of Montserrat. She is the author of eight books and has managed the Discover Montserrat media platforms for the past four years.

One of her priorities, will be to support the establishment of new governance structures as mandated by the board and the development of a revised cultural policy for the island which aligns with local and regional focus to build the creative sector.

Former director Chadd Cumberbatch ended his secondment to the council from government at the end of March. Chairman of the MAC Board Albrun Semper said they were grateful for Mr. Cumberbatch’s contribution to building culture and wished him success in his future endeavours.

The council recently closed its call for applications for two senior roles, Director of the MAC and the Head of Planning & Production on Friday, March 29.

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Head table stand for prayer DSC_4672

Montserrat hosts the Red Ensign Group Conference


by Bennette Roach

The event was little publicised (in Montserrat), but it was a big conference with an international flavour as the Red Ensign Group Conference was held this year for the first time in Montserrat.

The conference which is an annual gathering of the British ship registers opened at the Montserrat Cultural Center and ran from April 2 – 4, 2019, with representatives from UK Government who meet in a different territory each year on a rolling basis. Members representing the British ship registers and coastal state coordinators from across the Red Ensign Group were in attendance.

Joseph O’Garro

The opening session was brief and to the point, opening in the usual fashion with National Anthem, (it being a UK organisation/conference; a  Welcome by Mr. Joseph O’Garro, Manager, Montserrat Port Authority, main organiser on the ground, and who chaired the session; and prayer Opening Remarks Honourable Donaldson Romeo, Premier, Special Remarks His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Andrew Pearce; Special Remarks Miss Katy Ware, Chair of The REG Conference; all followed by Closing Remarks Honourable Paul Lewis, Minister for Communications, Works & Labour (including Maritime Affairs); ending with a Vote of Thanks Mr. Ashley Lindsey, Access Coordinator, out of the Office of the Premier; and the singing of the Territorial Song, and the dismissal.

The conference then got on the way to conclude on April 4.

Katy Ware, director of maritime safety and standards at the Maritime & Coastguard Agency chaired the conference (at least at the opening). She said: ‘The Red Ensign Group conference matters because it brings us all together to work through those matters of regulation related to flag, port and coastal state responsibility that give us our status as a leading maritime player across the world. Everyone has an equal voice and there is a relationship between us that makes things happen.’

 

Katy Ware

She added in her opening remarks a message to delegates from @Nus_Ghani: ‘You share common goals and common objectives … and you’ve done outstanding work in maintaining the reputation of the Red Ensign Group.’

The bell opens and ends the sessions – https://twitter.com/i/status/1113117714070102017

Information from the conference said “it is a great opportunity for detailed face-to-face discussion of a wide variety of matters of shared interest and to share best practice and discuss ways to optimise performance of the British register in the international arena, both in terms of commercial success and in setting exemplary standards in meeting our international maritime obligations. It is also an opportunity to look at the challenges of meeting Coastal State obligations and share ideas of how to improve those. 

“But more than that is a way to get to know each other which helps the registers work together to drive the success of the total British registered tonnage, which at over 50 million gross registered tons is one of the world’s larger registers with a real part to play at the International Maritime Organization and in influencing international maritime matters.” 

 

Governor Pierce

Governor Pierce tried to be brief, in his remarks shared with the delegates his own love and impressions of Montserrat having just completed just over a year on the job, inviting them to enjoy and appreciate the island. In the end he wished them: “Have a good fulfilling conference.”

 

Premier Donaldson Romeo

Premier Romeo in his remarks to the conference began quoting TV personality and entrepreneur Jimmy Dean who said that “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

“This’” he said as he was quick to speak of Montserrat’s upcoming newest project, “is the secret of Montserrat’s resilience in the face of the volcano crisis, and as we begin to create the first ever protected harbour in Montserrat, we are confident that the maritime sector will make a huge contribution to our redevelopment. That is why we are committed to the maritime industry.”

The Premier said that our tourism sector is largely dependant on sea access and on our marine infrastructure, and, making the announcement, “That is why, as Minister of Tourism, I am happy to announce Cabinet’s approval last Thursday of the Tourism Strategy 2019-2022.”

“So, in this spirit of optimism,” he said, “I welcome the Red Ensign Group (REG) Conference to Montserrat; with over 70 delegates, including representation from the United Kingdom, nine British Overseas Territories and three Crown Dependencies…” noting that the combined British Red Ensign fleet is the 9th largest in the world and that the Conference is a means to help oversee and uphold maritime safety standards across the thirteen British Shipping Registers.

In his brief remarks, the Premier noted also, “This conference is also being held at a strategic time, as the global maritime industry is facing major changes in safety and security.”

 

Minister Paul Lewis

The Honourable Paul Lewis, Minister for Communications, Works & Labour (including Maritime Affairs) for which he is the Minister responsible gave Closing Remarks which he began by welcoming the delegates, from as he said, as far as St. Helena with their travel challenges, “notwithstanding their new airport.”

The Minister referred to several good news items and projects which deserve mention and will be revealed and reported on later. He brought his remarks to a close by recognising the international quality of the flag states while also acknowledging the tremendous efforts of the Montserrat Maritime administration and the Montserrat Port Authority, as well as the various multisector resources drawn from Government departments including the office of the Premier – all of whom were engaged in preparing for the successful hosting and delivery of the REG conference 2019.

Finally, a vote of thanks was delivered by Ashley Lindsey, Access Coordinator and the singing of the Territorial song very ably and beautifully rendered by Mrs. Mildred Chalmers.

 

Vote of Thanks delivered by Mr. Ashley Lindsey

 

A photo from the Conference 2019 Day 2, showing all the delegates from across the 13 members!
 

In the following days, a few reports were available as to the progress of the conference. Day two of #REG2019 was reported as, “another day of collaborative working and productive discussions all around regulation, coastal state preparedness and registration. Everyone has something to give.”

Anguilla delegates in a mention, said the coastal state session at #REG2019 Conference will help them in their ongoing work to meet their maritime obligations. It’s part of #CSSF work funded by the UK Government.

The information came out that Sarah Morgan, head of Registry of Shipping & Seamen who was selected to chair the Red Ensign Group #REG2019 Registrars session in Montserrat. Listen to a comment from her. https://twitter.com/i/status/1113897794161512451

Guernsey’s Harbourmaster Captain David Barker and other delegates from the @RedEnsignGroup have been touring the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat as part of the #REG2019 conference taking place. It was affected by a volcano eruption in the 1990’s. @MCA_media@gsyharbours

Conference began with prayer – head table stands: Joseph O’Garro, Katy Ware, Governor Pierce, Premier Romeo and Minister Lewis

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