Introducing East Portland Fish Sanctuary

AHF Jamaica

The Alligator Head Marine Lab, a TBA21–Academy initiative founded by Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza in partnership with the University of the West Indies and with the support of Reef Check, Portland Environment Protection Association and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, is delighted to announce the official declaration of the East Portland Special Fishery Conservation Area in Jamaica. This is the first of its kind in Portland and spans over 6 km of protected coastline, including coral reefs, sea grass, mangroves, wetlands and deep reef habitats.

The Alligator Head Foundation has been established to manage and support this ambitious project, supporting the protection and preservation of the world´s natural resources and the environment, with particular focus on the oceans. The Foundation will concentrate on supporting local communities that reside in Portland and depend on fishing as a livelihood, by assisting with education, training and equipping community members with the tools needed to move towards a more sustainable means of living.
The Alligator Head Marine Lab (AHML), together with the Portland Environment Protection Association (PEPA) and the local community, have been lobbying extensively for the declaration of the East Portland Fish Sanctuary, Portland’s very first marine protected area. The establishment of the fish sanctuary would be an ongoing effort with the intention of bringing environmental sustainability and growth to the area.
The parish supports vibrant fishing communities, underscoring the need to effectively manage the fishable resources and the marine environment that supports them. Fish sanctuaries provide a host of benefits to the local area. They act as nursery grounds, allowing marine life to recover to previous levels and encouraging the return of endangered wildlife, including turtles, dolphins, manatees and sea birds. Sanctuaries also attract tourism to the local area and offer more opportunities for employment as community wardens, boat tour guides, aquaculture projects and other spin off activities.
The AHML and AHF aim to spark local interest and gain public support, while raising awareness for its programs to reinforce the conservation needs of Portland.
Alligator Head Foundation (AHF) is the private foundation of Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, established with an aim to support the protection and preservation of the world´s natural resources and the environment, with particular focus on the oceans. Its aim is to support the local communities that live in Portland and depend on its natural resources for survival. The aims of the Foundation are also to support contemporary art, digital media, food, culture and music production, such as:

Support the ongoing activities of the AHML in the local area, as well as the research efforts undertaken by national and international organizations; share the results of AHF research activities;

Support the establishment of the East Portland Fish Sanctuary in view of creating a viable sustainable future for the region, giving marine life in Portland a chance to recover;

Establish viable and sustainable projects that protect the fish sanctuary from exploitation and abuse;

Support the local community of Portland as it adjusts to the changes that the fish sanctuary will bring with education, training and tools that support alternative livelihoods, with a focus on training fisher-folk to become dive masters and other occupations related to water-recreation activities, such as, but not limited to, snorkelling, diving, kayaking, paddle boarding;

Apply for Government grants, international and national grants, and actively fundraise for all of the projects and endeavours of the Foundation.
Community has been at the heart of this project from its inception. Consultations with local stakeholders is ongoing, in the form of community meetings, fisher-folk forums, the establishment of an interactive information centre at the Port Antonio Craft Village, a field trip to the OBFS, a partnership with the San San Citizens Association to advocate local and national government agencies for policies and decisions that support environmental conservation, and a partnership with PEPA to implement a community-based climate change adaptation awareness project through funding from CARIBSAVE.
Alligator Head Marine Lab
Established in March 2014, the Alligator Head Marine Lab (AHML) is a collaboration between the University of the West Indies (UWI) and TBA21–Academy. It has been set up with a minimum of a 5-year commitment and tasked with the collection of high-quality data that encompasses climate change, marine ecology, taxonomy and biodiversity, as well as fisheries science. AHML aims to galvanize public support, inform debate and raise funds and awareness to support its programs, reinforcing the conservation needs of the local area.

Portland Environment Protection Association (PEPA) is a local NGO established in 1988 that has developed a solid reputation for its delivery of community outreach and educational activities focused on the environment. PEPA is a critical partner in the process of engaging the community and ensuring local fisher-folk and other stakeholders have an outlet for issues related to environmental advocacy. PEPA has strong traction with the local community and the organization will be a key partner in the management of the sanctuary.