Hotline
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. In consequat dignissim interdum, quis bibendum.
call us 1-677-124-44227
test@ima.gov.tt"
follow us
IMA > Press Release  > The restoration journey continues, Project MARIN proceeds for another five years.  
Marin Tobago team

The restoration journey continues, Project MARIN proceeds for another five years.  

Media release: September 11, 2023 

The MARIN Tobago pilot brings needed attention to endangered coral reefs and seagrass meadows. The report on the pilot phase indicates the way forward for the next five years.  

The Institute of Marine Affairs’ coral and seagrass restoration project, MARIN, has passed through a successful pilot phase and is now set to enter the main phase with support from bpTT. 

Based on the success of the pilot project, bpTT has committed US$1 million in grant funding to support a 5-year work programme with the IMA to further their work in coral reef and seagrass restoration across Tobago, working in partnership with NGOs, community groups and stakeholders, and with various government agencies. 

The MARIN Tobago research team presented a report on the completion of the pilot project on September 11 at Shaw Park. This marked the end of the 18-month pilot project undertaken by the IMA to determine the feasibility of coral and seagrass restoration strategies given their current ecological state, existing disturbances and management practices.  

MARIN, Latin “of or pertaining to the seas,” draws on the connection between islands and the ocean. The project, funded by bpTT as part of its commitment to sustainability, had two main objectives: (1) Explore a framework for seagrass and coral reef restoration planning in Tobago; one that considers biodiversity, climate change and livelihoods. (2) To sensitise communities on the importance of ecosystem rehabilitation as a critical component of active management efforts.  

Presenters reported on challenges and insights to implementing restoration in Tobago. Highlights included the possibility of conducting larval-propagation strategies for coral restoration after being the first to monitor spawning in Tobago, as well as a spatial assessment of seagrass distribution and their carbon storage in the Buccoo Reef Marine Park. Challenges include the selection of appropriate restoration sites that overlap with potential development projects, chronic anthropogenic impact and the risk of climate change.  

All findings and proposed strategies are incorporated into the first version of A Guide to Coral Reef and Seagrass Restoration in Tobago and supplementary scientific reports. The seminar was hosted by the MARIN team (IMA and bpTT) along with project partners, Coastal Dynamics Limited. 

Giselle Thomspon, vice president communications and external affairs said: “Like many islands, Tobago’s marine resources are central to the island’s economy and, as such, it is essential that we seek to fully understand the impact or effects of natural and human activity on those resources. It is equally important to explore ways in which we can mitigate or even reverse these impacts and improve the resilience of the marine environment.” 

Rahanna Juman (dep. Dir): MARIN is not only about restoring degraded ecosystems but about building the resilience of resource users so they are meaningfully engaged and can sustain restoration efforts. 

Attish Kanhai (Research Officer, benthic ecology): Seagrasses are the unsung heroes of the ocean. From carbon storage to enhancing biodiversity and coastline protection their importance cannot be overstated. Our appreciation and conservation of these precious ecosystems is important as they are under serious threat from climate change and pollution, loss of their numerous services will have wide reaching impacts. Tobago is very fortunate to still have some flourishing seagrass beds, this is something we wish to maintain for future generations. 

Dr Anjani Ganase (Research Officer, coral reef ecology): “Island nations, including Tobago, are the most vulnerable to the threat of climate change. Our coral reefs, which provide critical services in the form of food security, coastal protection, and livelihoods, are at risk of being lost. There is an urgent need to build coral reef resilience through innovative strategies in marine management and restoration. We hope that MARIN Tobago would stimulate action in climate adaptation to the benefit of all – human and marine life – who depend on our marine ecosystems.” 

Englishman Bay Tobago
Englishman’s Bay, Tobago

MARIN Tobago, the next phase 

The main phase of the MARIN project has commenced following a renewed partnership between bp Trinidad and Tobago and the Institute of Marine Affairs with funding support from bp (UK).  MARIN Tobago intends to deliver long-term biodiversity conservation and restoration of Tobago’s marine ecosystems using a multifaceted approach: (1) building sustainable ocean resilience; (2) restoring of Tobago’s coral reefs and seagrass beds; (3) generating ocean stewardship through outreach and engagement. The project will focus on Tobago’s marine ecosystems within the Buccoo Reef – Bon Accord Lagoon Marine Protected Area (MPA), and the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve in Northeast Tobago. Both areas hold significant ecological value and support Tobago livelihoods. The second phase of the project entails working in partnership with NGO’s, community groups, government agencies and numerous stakeholders to promote the management, conservation and restoration of these critical ecosystems; and engender deeper understanding of the relationship with the ocean.