Blue Halo Initiative – Barbuda
Waitt Institute Blue Halo Initiative – As the first project, Blue Halo Barbuda, the Barbuda Council signed into law a sweeping set of new ocean management regulations that zone their coastal waters, strengthen fisheries management, and establish a network of marine sanctuaries. This comes after months of extensive community consultation and scientific research supported by the Waitt Institute. With these new policies, the small island of Barbuda has become a Caribbean ocean conservation leader and global role model. The regulations establish five marine sanctuaries, collectively protecting 33% (139 km2) of the coastal area, to enable fish populations to rebuild and habitats to recover. To restore the coral reefs, catching parrotfish and sea urchins has been completely prohibited, as those herbivores are critical to keeping algae levels on reefs low so coral can thrive. Barbuda is the first Caribbean island to put either of these bold and important measures in place.
The Waitt Institute continues to work closely with the government and people of Barbuda to support implementation of these regulations. This includes setting up a long-term scientific monitoring program, training local staff in marine ecology and field research techniques, recommending enforcement approaches, providing needed equipment, and working with schools to develop an ocean education curriculum.
Caribbean-wide, communities are seeing declines in the health of coastal ecosystems and fish populations. This negatively impacts economies, food security, and cultures. Visionary action like that shown in Barbuda is needed to manage the ocean sustainably, profitably, and enjoyably, for this and future generations. The coastal zones and fishing regulations reflect stakeholders’ priorities and are the outcome of a community-driven, science-based, and consensus-seeking process aiming to balance current and future needs to use ocean resources.
Creation of the new regulations occurred under the umbrella of the Barbuda Blue Halo Initiative, a collaboration between the Barbuda Council, Government of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbuda Fisheries Division, Codrington Lagoon Park, and the Waitt Institute. The Waitt Institute provided all of the science, mapping, and communications, offered policy recommendations, and coordinated the overall Initiative.