There are several key legal statutes which have direct implications for coastal zone management. The primary statutes used by the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU) to manage the coastal zone management area are discussed in detail in this section. Additional statutes which are relevant are listed thereafter. All legislation is available at the Government of Barbados’ Printing Department located in Bay Street, St. Michael.
Barbados is a small island of 430 km2, with a population of approximately 260,000, making it one of the world’s most densely populated countries. At present, most of the island’s population and the majority of its economic activities are located within a narrow coastal band. The coastal zone is undeniably one of the island’s most valuable economic and social assets.
Unfortunately, the development process has not always been kind to our precious coastal resources. Within the last three decades or so, considerable damage has been inflicted on our coastline and adjacent marine zone. The Coastal Zone Management Act provides a comprehensive, statutory basis for coastal zone management and planning in Barbados. It seeks to coordinate and update the existing, fragmented statutes relevant to coastal management, and makes provision for the protection of coral and other marine reserves, the creation of marine reserves and the identification of critical areas of concern not covered by current legislation.
The quality of the marine water on the south and west coasts of Barbados has been steadily deteriorating, from an ecosystem health perspective, with increasing physical development, especially over the last few decades. This state of affairs has serious implications for fisheries and marine ecosystem health. Additionally, where the water quality is poor, the island’s human population may be directly exposed to various water-bourne diseases and other disorders, while vital marine ecosystems will become increasingly stressed and experience higher levels of morbidity and mortality. The main ecosystems affected are the coral reefs which have been recognised as the world’s ‘essential life support systems’ by the World Conservation Strategy. Not only does pollution reduce adult coral growth, but it also prevents or limits the actual recruitment of the organisms to the underwater substrate. Hence, if degradation of our coastal waters goes unchecked, the social and economic costs to Barbados will be great.
The Government of Barbados is committed to ensuring that the island’s coastal waters are maintained at acceptable international standards. The Marine Pollution Control Act makes provision for the prevention, reduction and control of pollution of the marine environment in Barbados from whatever source.
Based on the OECS harmonized legislation, the Fisheries Act covers formulating and reviewing fisheries management and developed schemes; the establishment of a fisheries advisory committee; fisheries access agreements; local and foreign fishing licensing; sport fishing; registration of fishing vessels; construction and alteration of fishing vessels; fisheries research; fisheries enforcement and the obligation to supply information. Also specifies conservation measures such as prohibiting use of any explosive, poison or other noxious substance; closed seasons, gear restrictions. It gives the Minister responsible for fisheries the authority to create new regulations for the management of fisheries as and when necessary.
The Regulations include: mesh size restrictions for seine nets and fish traps; mandatory installation of escape panels and identification marks on fish traps; prohibiting the use of trammel nets and other entangling nets; prohibiting the capture of lobsters carrying eggs or removing the eggs from lobsters; prohibiting the capture, possession or sale of turtles, turtle eggs and turtle parts; banning of the use of SCUBA for harvesting sea eggs; regulation of the sea egg fishery through the designation of closed seasons and closed areas, by the Minister responsible for fisheries; prohibiting landing tunas of less than 3.2kg live weight; aquatic flora or fish to be used for ornamental purposes may only be fished with the written permission of the Chief Fisheries Officer, corals may not be damaged, destroyed or fished without the written permission of the Chief Fisheries Officer. The maximum penalties for breaking of any of these regulations are a fine of $50,000 BDS and/or two years imprisonment.
These regulations, which are to form part of The Shipping Act, are currently at the draft stage. The proposed regulations are to govern the operations of dive operations for hire and reward in Barbados. The focus of the regulations is to ensure the safety of dive operators and their clients and the preservation of fragile marine ecosystems.
- Marine Areas (Preservation and Enhancement) Act (1976): Defines management of marine reserves
- Barbados Territorial Waters Act (1977): Defines territorial and internal waters
- Marine Boundaries and Jurisdiction Act (1978): Defines waters of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
- Defense Act (1979): Multi-purpose surveillance in EEZ and territorial waters
- Shipping Act (1994): Registration and inspection of large vessels
- Town and Country Planning Act (1985): Defines coastal setback lines for construction and establishes all planning requirements for development.