The Officer of the Governor is providing a grant of $75,000 to the National Parks Trust to assist with the territory’s fight against the rapidly-spreading Stoney Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD).
This is according to a media release which said officials from the National Parks Trust and the newly-established ‘Strike Team’ created by the Minister of Natural Resources Vincent Wheatley, were actively diving across the territory and treating the disease.
Speaking on the grant, Governor Augustus Jaspert said he was pleased to support the initiative with funds received from the United Kingdom.
“A cross-community approach is the only way to stop this disease from having disastrous effects on our coral and the industries that depend on it. I was also pleased to see the UK government commit new funds to support the Overseas Territories biodiversity in the most recent UK budget. I hope through collaboration and determination, we can make a difference.”
Coral Crisis imminent if measures aren’t taken
Minister Wheatley stressed on the importance of the collaborative effort in tackling the disease in the territorial waters, which is a two-part initiative.
The first part enables local dive operators to monitor and treat the disease, while the second aspect of the initiative is geared towards providing awareness education to the local community.
“Mitigating the spread of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease is of utmost importance. If we do not safeguard our reefs, then we will indeed have a coral crisis. If we do not use every resource at our disposal to prevent this disease from spreading in our waters, then we will lose one of our most important ecosystems and tourist attractions; which will be detrimental to our livelihoods and our way of life. We must do our part to ensure prosperity not only for ourselves but for our people for generations to come,” Minister Wheatley explained.
According to the National Parks Trust Director Dr Cassander Titley-O’Neal, the BVI’s coral reefs were last evaluated in 2016 by an international body at a value of $194,691,000.
The BVI’s coral reefs provide the territory with a number of ecological services of which the BVI is dependent on. These include seafood, beaches, coastal protection against erosion and natural disasters, and provides habitats for snorkelling and diving.
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