Tobago Cays Marine ParkNote: The data were entered in the language of the country of origin (English, French or Spanish) and there is no translation available yet.
Chapter 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Present briefly the proposed area and its principal characteristics, and specify the objectives that motivated its creation :
The Tobago Cays are of great ecological, social, cultural and economic importance to St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. The Tobago Cays Marine Park (TCMP) comprises of five small uninhabited cays, and one larger inhabited island, located in the Southern Grenadines. The area is stunningly beautiful, with pure white sand, crystal clear waters, plentiful coral reefs, and rich biodiversity. Four of the cays - Petit Rameau, Petit Bateau, Jamesby and Baradal – lie within a semi-circular reef, known as Horseshoe Reef, while the fifth cay (Petit Tabac) lies just outside the reef. Mayreau is a larger island to the west of the cays, inhabited by about 270 people.
The Tobago Cays were designated a conservation area in 1987 (under Fisheries Regulations), but the Tobago Cays Marine Park was not created until late 1997. The cays are surrounded by fringing and bank-barrier coral reefs, which are important for marine biodiversity conservation. There are sea grass beds within the cays which are important feeding groups for threatened turtles. Mayreau has patches of endangered mangrove ecosystem, and the islands and cays are host to many protected animal and bird species.
The area has long been a popular spot for tourists including yachts, divers, cruise ships and day trippers. Over 80% of yachts visiting the Grenadines visit the TCMP. The area was previously used as a fishing spot by locals, and protection of the area is likely to have benefited fishers by providing a safe breeding ground for fish. Tourism is central to the economies of the Southern Grenadines (including Union Island, Mayreau and Canouan) and the TCMP is a key tourism draw card.
Explain why the proposed area should be proposed for inclusion in the SPAW list
The Tobago Cays Marine Park (TCMP) should be included in the SPAW list because it contains very special ecological and socio-economic values, including populations of threatened marine and terrestrial species and important habitats.
The TCMP is an area of exceptional biodiversity and high conversation value. Much of this is due to its unique geology and topography, creating conditions for large coral reefs and sea grass beds. It contains many fringing coral reefs as well as the longest bank-barrier reef in the Southern Grenadines (Horseshoe Reef). These reefs are home to many marine species including many threatened species: Green, Hawksbill and Leatherback Turtles, Queen Conch, Caribbean Spiny lobster, and 20 species of threatened corals, including the critically endangered Boulder Star, Staghorn and Elkhorn corals. There are also many protected terrestrial species within the TCMP including the Brown Pelican, Brindled Tern, Iguana, and many migratory birds. The TCMP also contains mangroves and wetland ecosystems, which are becoming increasingly rare in the Caribbean. The TCMP is uninhabited and is relatively undisturbed by human activity, although there are threats and impacts from increased tourism.
The TCMP is crucial to the economy of the Southern Grenadines. It is one of the most popular tourism sites in the Lesser Antilles with over 50,000 visitors annually. The economy of the surrounding islands is heavily dependent on tourism through hospitality and accommodation, vending, tours, diving, cruising, transport and construction. Fishing is another major sector of the Southern Grenadines economy and the TCMP provides an important breeding ground for many commercial species, and contributes to the health of broader marine biodiversity.