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|Small Islands Voice: Jamaica, Fiji and A Cautionary Tale|
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|Posted by:||May 3rd 2006, 08:44:25 pm|
|Fig Tree News Team||SMALL ISLANDS VOICE
Do you live in a small island?
Tell us what you think.
Greetings from Labasa in the Fiji Islands (Pacific), writes Father Api; I thank you and feel very moved to hear the stories about the Haida Nation and the British Virgin Islands. Fiji is now putting a lot of its effort into
tourism. We have been warned about this recently by the University of the
South Pacific. I really believe the land owners who allow their seashore to be
built up with hotels and resorts must be made aware of the danger of sewage
pollution and advised how to act to protect their environments. I come from a
village opposite a hotel. One problem we are faced with is the sea that runs
between the village and the hotel has stopped providing us with fresh sea
food. Something has happened and I believe itís something to do with the
hotel. Fiji needs to be careful now, or else it will be too late.
For other islands, it may already be too late. Thomas Goreau writes from
Jamaica (Caribbean): Since early childhood, I watched all the reefs of Jamaica
killed by algae whose uncontrolled growth was caused by untreated sewage.
Waves of algae spread outwards from all the sewage sources over a period of 40
years, as each part of the coast was developed, until all of our reefs were
smothered. Foreign experts came afterwards, did superficial studies, and
blamed the fishermen instead of sewage! The result of their wrong diagnosis,
based on faulty science and ignorance of local environmental history, are
proposals that cannot possibly work. They advise to create marine protected
areas and stop people from fishing and then the corals and fish will thrive.
Yet these protected areas are full of dead and dying corals and the algae have
not vanished! In fact, the only way to get rid of algae is to starve them, by
cutting off the fertilizers and other nutrients pouring into the sea. When
this is done the algae quickly die; I saw a bay in Jamaica cleaned up in only
a few months this way. The only way to restore the fisheries is to restore the
health of the coral reef habitat that maintains them, not to pretend that sick
areas that are protected can support more fish. At the United Nations Experts
Meeting on waste management in Small Island Developing States, I wrote the
review chapter on the effects of land-based sources of nutrients (from
detergents, sewage, fertilizers, pesticides and other sources) on coral reefs
and fisheries. The problem can be solved by using biological tertiary
treatment to recycle all the nutrients on land. In this way the productivity
of the land can be improved, and we donít poison the sea and kill our corals
and fish. The entire group of experts called for complete elimination of all
human caused sources of nutrients to the coastal zone and the sea. But this
message was lost completely at the United Nations Summit for small islands in
2005, and has also been totally ignored in the Small Island State Position
Paper for the forthcoming United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
meetings on energy and environment. All the key points have been dropped. It
seems that we do not want to learn from our experience. If so, we only have
ourselves to blame.
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