The Sandals Foundation / Sandals Resorts International

Seascape Caribbean was contracted by Sandals Resorts International in 2016 to oversee impacts and develop value-positive remediation options related to their proposed stilted villas in Montego Bay. Remediation works included mangrove and coral culture as habitat enhancement and restoration projects within the existing fish sanctuaries of Bogue Lagoon and The Point in Montego Bay. The mangrove works have been contracted to the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory and Seascape Caribbean has been subcontracted to provide 4500 cultured staghorn corals in a contiguous yet cohesive thicket. 

PROJECT GOALS

  • Provide an ecologically equitable remediation for development impacts.
  • Turn a remediation cost into a guest activity and marketable asset.
  • Improve staghorn coral abundance and nursery habitat availability within the Montego Bay Point special fisheries conservation area.  

CLIENT CHALLENGES

  • The corals of the Montego Bay were heavily impacted by disease through the 1980s, as was most of the Caribbean. Again, the worst to suffer were the branching corals.
  • Montego Bay holds at least four distinct fishing communities and the local reefs are heavily fished by spear, net and fish trap.
  • In 1992, tourism interests were able to have established the Montego Bay Marine Park. However, this protected area was largely unsupported by fishers and remains underfunded by Government, thus remains under-protected. 
  • The city of Montego Bay heavily impacts the bay's reefs and corals through sedimentation and chemical pollutions as well as solid waste coming from the various drainage gullies and also through the multitude of springs of this karst landscape.
  • Current reef system is dominated by microalgae, representing a stable-state disallowing a resurgence of coral. Reefs are the green-brown of algae rather than the bright golds and greens of healthy coral.
  • Ecosystem is out of balance and coral diseases persist, often facilitated by corallivorous fish and elevated summer temperatures. Corallivorous snails and worms are also common.
  • Algae is a poor fish or lobster nursery habitat as compared to coral, thus fisheries have been relatively unproductive.

SOLUTIONS

  • Propagate and plant 4500 branching staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) corals to mid-depth reefs of The Montego Bay Point fish sanctuary, with nursery deployments starting in October of 2017.
  • Rekindle conversations of fishery stewardship on the local fishing beaches and communities through this hands-on and highly visible nursery habitat, thus recruitment and productivity enhancement activity. 
  • Promote Montego Bay as a SCUBA diving destination, in collaboration with the Sandals Foundation and the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust.