Mitigation of Impacts
The SMMA is also engaged in ongoing management activities related to the control and mitigation of impacts from land-based activities.
For example, there have been two important incidents in the past years involving a Soufriere based copra factory which released harmful waste substances into the river just 500 meters upstream the Soufriere Bay. The media was informed and assisted greatly in raising public awareness. In the second of these instances, the company responsible was fined under the Fisheries Act., following an enquiry led by the Ministry of Health and the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI).
Problems caused by sedimentation are also severe. In late 1996 an unnamed storm caused flooding and severe sedimentation threatening the reef at Rachette Point. After tropical storm Debbie in 1994, when the town of Soufriere also was flooded, the government attempted to prevent future flooding by straitening the river and constructing retaining walls at both sides. Unfortunately, the natural river bends which before acted as natural sediment traps were removed. Therefore, the problem of sedimentation in the bay of Soufriere during the 1996 flooding became much more intense.
The big barrel sponges especially suffered because of the inability to remove the heavy load of sediments that collect inside them. With assistance from CANARI and a dive-operator, simple airlifts were converted into “underwater vacuum cleaners” to clean sponges and coral. The SMMA rangers continued the cleaning efforts over a period of three weeks. It is believed that because of these efforts, parts of the reef habitat can be saved from suffocation through sedimentation.
More and more often, the SMMA is being asked to review relevant environmental and developmental programmes/projects of affiliated government and non-government institutions.