The World Bank and several other international aid donors through the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) set up a project called The OECS Protected Areas and Associated Livelihoods Project or OPAAL, and Antigua and Barbuda was one of several countries that received aid. Today was the official launch of NEMMA which is the funded project here in Antigua. As the title of this blog explains NEMMA stands for North East Marine Management Area and it stretches from Beggar's Point off Prickly Pear Island in the North all the way up to Frier's Head at Mill Reef in the East. The United Nations Environment Program describes it as follows:
NEMMA’s vision is to be a self-financing, multiple use (yachting, fishing, tourism, conservation, recreation) protected area that maintains and enhances the natural beauty and unique biodiversity of the area, both terrestrial and marine, supported by an efficient legislative framework and ongoing awareness programs.For more on NEMMA you can read further here. I can't tell you how happy i was when i heard about the NEMMA because it was something that i have been dreaming of for most of my adult life. In fact, I met with the former Minister of Tourism many times about exactly the same concept during my tenure as president of the Antigua and Barbuda Excursions Alliance. In 2004 the funding for NEMMA was agreed upon and I think OPAAL started sending aid to Antigua for its creation. My fiance did much of the consultant work which made up the plan for NEMMA. The Environmental Awareness Group was also very happy to hear about the project especially because they already have an offshore island project within the NEMMA. The EAG pretty much saved the Antigua Racer snake which was one of the world's rarest if not the rarest snake on planet earth. The project had funding to set up the NEMMA framework and to generally set it up to be run for a year or two on its own while the NEMMA board and the NEMMA manager organize themselves to be self sufficient. It all seemed like a good idea to me and to all involved in setting it up, but there was one problem....... Government buraucracy. The project's funding was intended to be for NEMMA's creation and implementation during the period between 2004 and 2010. We are now in late 2009 and there still isn't a board set up and there still isn't a manager hired for NEMMA. At a recent meeting between excursion operators, The Fisheries Department and the Environmental Awareness Group the Fisheries officer was drilled as to why these essential things haven't happened yet. I don't think any of us understood the answer that was given. Either way today was the official launch of NEMMA. How it was that NEMMA was launched today with no governing board and no manager is anyone's guess. I sat there listening to the speeches by the officer of the OECS Secretariat, two ministers and several other government technocrats and i wondered if they knew that NEMMA was being launched officially in front of the Prime Minister the rest of us without a board or manager. I don't think that they knew. NEMMA is totally useless at this point so why was the launch today. I guess i don't have all the facts on this one and must be missing something. The passionate speech by the Chanlah Codrington, Minister of State within the Ministry of Agriculture (and fisheries), Lands, Housing and Environment was a very good one, and i felt that he understood what this was all about. Later I took Mr. Codrington and a bunch of other people from this meeting on a shortened Eco Tour of the area within NEMMA.