Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Coastal region and small island papers 2

HAITIS COASTAL REGION AND THE PILOT PROJECT AREA

Primary focal area of the proposed pilot project.
At a later stage, an extended phase might also
cover the rest of the Bay of Port-au Prince

Discussion summary

The severe degradation of the country’s coastal region was thoroughly reviewed and confirmed during both formal and informal sessions. The socio-economic impacts arising from over fishing, deforestation and pollution are poverty and a much reduced quality of life. Indeed, poverty itself contributes to coastal zone damage. It is also apparent that the deforestation process is one that has a long history, which should be studied in broad terms, having had significant impacts stretching back over 200 years.

The general concept behind the pilot project is to address resource overexploitation in an integrated manner within a specified area. It is anticipated that the lessons learnt and the methods developed will be useful in developing ICM in other coastal areas of Haiti. With regard to the study area, there are limited data available concerning the resource base, levels of resource use and the socio-economic framework within which their exploitation occurs.

To facilitate the collection of data, currently underway, concerning the resource base, satellite imagery is being utilized to produce GIS-based resource data atlases, which should include an assessment of development potential (particularly tourism). Another important aspect of data collection will be to review literature and to consult with national staff involved in previous project initiatives in the study area and of relevance from other areas. It will also be important to be aware of current government initiatives such as the National Council of Agrarian Reform, the Tourism Strategy and moves to ratify MARPOL 73/78, of other potentially overlapping development aid initiatives and of the wider legal framework of resource exploitation and land ownership.

The pilot project

Study Area

The location of a physical boundary for the project was discussed at length. Its landward limit is defined by the extent of the watersheds. Its linear extent is less easily defined but will fall within the commune of Arcahaie. At this stage it is difficult to be more precise as the resources to be managed and the resource users do not adhere to any political or geographic boundary. If an ‘ecological’ boundary is discovered, it should be used; if not, the linear extent will be limited by practical considerations but will not be bigger than the Arcahaie commune. The seaward boundary will be similarly determined. Because of the overlap of fishing operations as well as the tourism potential, the area will possibly include a portion of La Gonāve Island. The people of Luly, because of their existing social fabric, could provide a logical starting point for data gathering.

Project aims

The principal aim of the pilot project will be the achievement of sustainable socio-economic development of the inhabitants within the study area by: i) improving the management of natural resources; and, ii) promoting sustainable economic development.

Project objectives

The pilot project should focus on improving resource management and sustainable development. This will require a programme of problem-driven research to provide inputs for the management and development process. The problems resulting in economic and social underd evelopment so far identified are:

  1. overfishing and possible resource limitations;
  2. deforestation and resulting erosion;
  3. limited investment in non-extractive economic activities;
  4. pollution (sewage, solid waste and industrial);
  5. property rights issues;
  6. a reduction in biodiversity; and
  7. saltwater intrusion into groundwater.

Project activities

These should focus on resolving issues of (i) resource management and (ii) the promotion of non-extractive development.

Data gathering

There is much that remains unknown in the area regarding resource management; this requires developing a programme of problem-driven research. This will involve both socio-economic and resource exploitation investigations and must be conducted by social and resource-oriented scientists experienced in management issues. It is essential that the project address the identified problems in a people-oriented way.

Co-management

The essence of the project should be to address resource management issues through the sharing of management responsibility with the resource user. This will necessitate a facilitating mechanism to strengthen existing resource-user organizations and to facilitate their formation when they do not exist. The development of these organizations will require considerable dialogue including, as necessary, for the provision of information concerning resource management. Dialogue, as the word indicates, must be a two-way process and will include not just resource users but also local and central government officials to ensure the necessary support. Valuable two - way experience could be gained from the exchange of information between, for example, fishermen from Jamaica (regarding institutional development) and the Turks and Caicos Islands (regarding resource use patterns).

Tourism

The study area is considered to have tourism potential (Les Arcadins, diving at La Gonāve Island, sports fishing and small-scale property development) that needs to be reviewed in the light of the government strategy for tourism. Maximum involvement of local people in tourism development is desirable.

Fisheries

Because of the limited coral reef habitat available in the area, the option of providing artificial reefs may be attractive and should be investigated. The possibility of utilizing such artificial reefs as ‘protected areas’ to enhance fishery recovery should also be explored with the fishers. There is also a limited commercial potential with currently underexploited deep - water demersal and nearshore pelagic resources. Their exploitation should be explored cautiously and must not introduce a significant debt burden on the fishers.

Marine scientific investigation

A serious study of the oceanography in the Gulf of La Gonāve and in the wider Port-au-Prince Bay would be important from the point of view of waste management, as well as to facilitate the assessment of impacts from run-off. Towards this end, it would be necessary to study wind patterns, tidal ranges and flows, surface and sub-surface currents, dissolved oxygen, water densities and river discharges as well as the distribution of pelagic and demersal fishes. The extension of this research to other contaminated bays should also be considered. This work will require a research vessel and the reinstatement of tide gauges with an adequate budget. The activity should be continued by a local research institution. Such an institution, versed in coastal matters, must be identified to manage and distribute the data gathered.

Forestry

Reforestation has usually been considered as a means to improve a degraded habitat. This view needs to be expanded to include the sustainable economic exploitation of forests for fuel and timber and, eventually, tourism.

Other inputs

Engineering solutions to immediately reduce coastal erosion may be appropriate. These may possibly be better tackled as a civil engineering project.

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