Research vessel launched to help protect marine ecosystems

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The ceremony for the acquisition of the Acropora by the National Parks Authority was held on the Copper and Lumber lawn at the Antigua Naval Dockyard on Wednesday (Photos by Makeida Antonio)
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By Makeida Antonio

[email protected]

Marine ecosystems around Antigua’s south coast will be better protected thanks to the recent acquisition of a special research boat.

The National Parks Authority (NPA) officially launched the science research and monitoring vessel on Wednesday evening. It was acquired with support from the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.

The vessel, named after the endangered coral Acropora, will assist NPA’s efforts to sustainably manage the marine area and associated biodiversity throughout Nelson’s Dockyard National Park.

Marine ecologist Ruleo Camacho explained that the boat was acquired after a 2018 assessment identified the lack of a vessel as a primary gap in researching and protecting the marine space.

“This boat has been custom designed for the work that we do within the National Parks Authority, particularly looking at our ability to patrol the entire seven square miles of the marine space within the National Park,” he said.

Camacho told Observer the work carried out would include “conducting, monitoring and enforcement, as well as the ability to do education awareness with things like floating classrooms, carrying out school kids, making sure that the public has a better understanding of the marine ecosystem, and why they should care”.

He was speaking against the backdrop of World Oceans Day which was celebrated on Wednesday.

World Oceans Day is a critical celebration which aims to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean and to develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the oceans.

This year’s theme was “Revitalisation: Collective Action for the Ocean.”

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