The White River Fish Sanctuary

Seascape Caribbean was contracted by the Oracabessa Foundation in 2017 to develop and implement a coral nursery programme for the newly fisher-initiated White River Fish Sanctuary in the high tourism Ocho Rios area of Jamaica.


  • The coastal ecosystems of Ocho Rios have been heavily impacted by coastal development for decades.

  • The corals of Ocho Rios were heavily impacted by Hurricanes Alan (1980) and Gilbert (1988), in particular the branching corals.

  • The corals of Ocho Rios were heavily impacted by disease through the 1980s, as was most of the Caribbean. Again, the worst to suffer were the branching corals.

  • The local reefs are heavily fished by spear, net and fish trap and fish are small.

  • The 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.

  • 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.

  • Algae is a poor fish or lobster nursery habitat as compared to coral, thus fisheries have been relatively unproductive.


  • Improved (fish and shellfish) catches and fisher incomes as well as tourism product enhancements through improved ecosystem function and tourist draw.

  • Reduce fishing pressure on the local reefs through engagement and reemployment to management, enforcement and reef gardening roles.

  • Kindling ownership and stewardship within the fishing community for both fish and habitat elements.

  • Kindling activism within the community related to poaching, litter, unsustainable development and identity.


  • Propagate and plant 1000 branching Acroporid corals per year into target areas for maximized recruitment of juvenile fish and shellfish. To date, 1000 staghorn coral fragments have been nursery grown and planted to nearby reefs.

  • Train fishers to maintain coral nurseries and out-planted corals, and to tend (garden) the surrounding reef. Three such gardeners have been trained to date.