Shifts Along Our Sandy Shores
Beaches remain the main attraction of tourists to the Greater Caribbean. For small island nation states, tourism accounts for an average of 25% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is the fastest growing sector of their economies. About 115 million people live around the Caribbean Sea’s coastline, and every year, another 20 million people come to visit.
This rapid growth in the tourism sector and its associated activity on beaches together with climate change impacts are leading to greater erosion on Caribbean beaches and shorelines. This is damaging the infrastructure and shorelines of coastal communities, depleting important tourism resources, and negatively impacting the economy.
At the first symposium of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS)’s Caribbean Sea Commission (CSC), held in 2015 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, the CSC and its member nations decided to address this issue at the regional level. A partnership agreement between the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the ACS was signed on April 28, 2017, in Trinidad and Tobago to launch a project that would help preserve and conserve the Caribbean Sea for the benefit of the member states. “Impact Assessment of Climate Change on the Sandy Shorelines of the Caribbean: Alternatives for its Control and Resilience” is the project’s name, otherwise known as the Sandy Shorelines Project.
The goal of this project is to support the sustainable use of Caribbean beaches and resources, first by enhancing an understanding of the causes of erosion and then by implementing particular local mitigation strategies for the effects of climate change and other threats to the sandy shorelines. As part of the mitigative strategy, the Institute of Marine Affairs facilitated a training workshop in collaboration with the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment and ACS during the period April 25 to June 10, 2022. The workshop covered key components for beach recovery and sedimentology which included discussions on standards of practice that aid in the more accurate determination of what causes erosion on beaches. Participants were introduced to and allowed to familiarize themselves with laboratory techniques for granulometric analysis and sediment composition. Other components included examining
the range of morphological and sedimentological markers used to calculate net littoral drift, as well as
direct and indirect approaches for estimating coastal transport. The target area was the Bonasse and
Cedros Bay region. In Cedros Bay and south of Galfa Beach, surveys were conducted and sediment was
identified and sampled.