Institute of Marine Affairs

Trinidad and Tobago

Institute of Marine Affairs

Trinidad and Tobago
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In ratifying the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Trinidad and Tobago gave its commitment to contribute towards mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and instituting measures for adapting to climate change impacts. Formulation of a National Climate Change Policy subsequently took place with a view to providing direction towards fulfilling UNFCCC obligations. The National Climate Change Policy identified that coastal areas of Trinidad and Tobago were particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. As a small island State, the country cannot afford its productive sectors operating in and/or reliant upon coastal resources to be at risk, even as some contribute to the climate change phenomenon. The increasing threat to socio-cultural, economic and environmental sustainability posed by climate change, was acknowledged in the Draft National Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Policy Framework which aims to treat with climate change impacts in the coastal zone and reduce vulnerability to associated hazards. Given the stated objectives of the National Climate Change Policy and the Draft National ICZM Policy Framework, this paper examined the policy and plans in place to integrate climate change considerations into management for the coastal sectors of fisheries, energy, tourism and maritime transport. It found that the mainstreaming of climate change mitigation and adaptation responses in these coastal sectors has not been as effective as needed. Progress in this regard was constrained by human, financial and technical resource availability. Proposed are rationalised institutional arrangements which, if statutorily grounded, will better allow for achieving co-ordinated climate change mitigation and adaptation outcomes in Trinidad and Tobago. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd

Norville W.,Institute of Marine Affairs | Banjoo D.,Institute of Marine Affairs
Journal of Environmental Science and Health - Part A Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering | Year: 2011

The Godineau Swamp in Trinidad receives anthropogenic input from agricultural and oil refining activities, sewage and domestic waste. This study was conducted in order to provide a comprehensive baseline dataset for the swamp, to assess water and sediment quality in the swamp, and to identify hotspots and possible sources of pollutants to the swamp. Ten sampling stations were established in the swamp during April/May and July 2002. Water quality parameters monitored included physicochemical measurements (pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen and salinity), total suspended solids, and nutrients (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and total phosphorus). Sediments were analyzed for hydrocarbons, heavy metals and total organic carbon. Temperatures and pH of water in the swamp were ambient; dissolved oxygen was low in many instances (<3 mg/L). In the dry season, there was saltwater intrusion along the Oropuche River up to the most easterly station. Levels of ammonia and phosphorus concentrations were suggestive of periodic inputs of agricultural and domestics wastes. Hydrocarbons concentrations in sediment were above ambient levels and suggestive of contamination from industrial activities. Sediments from the Godineau River contained elevated nutrients, hydrocarbons, metals and TOC compared with other stations. The results of this study indicate some degree of pollution of the Godineau swamp, which prompts the need for the implementation of measures beneficial for wise use of the swamp. © Institute of Marine Affairs.

Hassanali K.,Institute of Marine Affairs
Ocean and Coastal Management | Year: 2015

Activities and resources found in the ocean and coastal realm of Trinidad and Tobago contribute critically to the identity and well-being of the country's citizenry. However, the current governance framework and capacity to manage facets of the coastal zone is proving to be inadequate, with resource mismanagement, degradation and depletion evident. This is compounded by the absence of a co-ordinating mechanism and collaborative process through which stakeholders can seek to cohesively manage the ocean and coastal sphere in order to minimise conflict and maintain its flows of ecosystem goods and services in the long term.This paper recommends more sustainable, equitable and feasible means to manage the ocean and coastal realm for which Trinidad and Tobago has claimed stewardship. It critically analyses the current governance framework and juxtaposes it against identified theoretical and observed ICZM best practices worldwide. A more co-ordinated, cohesive and collaborative approach to governance is proposed that is participatory and co-operative in nature and underpinned by principles aligned to achieving sustainability in economic, social and ecological realms. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Nelson W.,Institute of Marine Affairs
Environmental Earth Sciences | Year: 2015

Sixteen stations were established to assess water and sediment quality throughout the Caura/Tacarigua watershed. Samples were analyzed for Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni, Pb, Zn and Hg using atomic absorption spectrometry during the dry and wet seasons of 2005. In the dry season, Pb and Zn exceeded sediment quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life. Highest concentrations of all metals were recorded at one station subject to a range of anthropogenic inputs in the lower watershed area; Cu exceeded the water quality guideline at this station. In the wet season, Zn exceeded the SQG at one station located south of residential areas in the lower watershed area and highest concentrations of Cr and Pb were recorded at that station. Metals in water were detected primarily at stations in the lower watershed area. Wet season concentrations of Zn in water were significantly higher than corresponding dry season concentrations. Likely sources of trace metals in the watershed include effluent from a light industrial estate, sewage/domestic waste from non-functioning sewage treatment plants and pit latrines, agricultural and urban runoff. Results of this study show that management strategies using an integrated approach are needed to minimize trace metal pollution within the watershed. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Buglass S.,University of British Columbia | Donner S.D.,University of British Columbia | Alemu I J.B.,Institute of Marine Affairs
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2016

In 2010, severe coral bleaching was observed across the southeastern Caribbean, including the island of Tobago, where coral reefs are subject to sedimentation and high nutrient levels from terrestrial runoff. Here we examine changes in corals' colony size distributions over time (2010-2013), juvenile abundances and sedimentation rates for sites across Tobago following the 2010 bleaching event. The results indicated that since pre-bleaching coral cover was already low due to local factors and past disturbance, the 2010 event affected only particular susceptible species' population size structure and increased the proportion of small sized colonies. The low density of juveniles (mean of 5.4±6.3juveniles/m-2) suggests that Tobago's reefs already experienced limited recruitment, especially of large broadcasting species. The juvenile distribution and the response of individual species to the bleaching event support the notion that Caribbean reefs are becoming dominated by weedy non-framework building taxa which are more resilient to disturbances. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

Alemu I. J.B.,Institute of Marine Affairs
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2016

Trinidad and Tobago was the last Caribbean island to be invaded by the lionfish and since its invasion in 2012 they have spread to most coral reef and hard bottom environments. Standard reef fish surveys were used to assess lionfish population densities and size distributions from 2013–2015. Total lengths ranged between 6.2–40.4 cm and 2.2–950 g in weight. The length-weight relationship was described by W = 0.0002 L2.5654. Fish densities were highest in the northeast Tobago at 326 lionfish/ha and the lowest in the southwest Tobago at 10.5 lionfish/ha. In order to curtail the spread of this invasive species, a culling programme was initiated at selected reefs to regularly remove lionfish at monthly intervals. On the selected reefs 26–30% reduction in mean lionfish biomass and 25–27% reduction in abundance was noted compared to control sites (p < 0.05). © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

Darsan J.,Institute of Marine Affairs
Caribbean Geography | Year: 2012

Cocos Bay, Trinidad, has a very dynamic system owing to the open bay morphology, and exposure to the Atlantic Ocean. 'The interplay of coastal processes, sediment characteristics and coastline orientation account for variations in the intensity of the processes operating at each beach. While the nearshore coastal - geomorphology has received much attention by researchers, the offshore bathymetry and sedimentology remained fairly unresolved. In order to fully appreciate the nearshore-ojfshore relations at this bay, a hydrographic survey was undertaken. This paper examines the offshore bathymetry and sediment characteristics at several sections in Cocos Bay. Results indicate that megaripples and sandwaves with superimposed ripples dominate the offshore region, where the megaripples have a relationship with the surface wavelengths of oncoming incident waves.

Juman R.A.,Institute of Marine Affairs | Ramsewak D.,Institute of Marine Affairs
Journal of Coastal Conservation | Year: 2013

Caroni Swamp Ramsar Site, the largest mangrove dominated wetland in Trinidad and Tobago, continues to be impacted by human activities. This study examines changes in land cover and land use from 1942 to 2007 using remote sensing technology, geographic information systems (GIS) and extensive field surveys. Land cover maps were produced for 1942, 1957, 1986, 1994, 2003 and 2007 from aerial photos and high resolution satellite imagery. Caroni Swamp's hydrology was altered in the 1920's to facilitate rice cultivation. This resulted in the formation of large tracts of freshwater marsh. From 1942 to 1957, freshwater marsh and agriculture lands increased, but after this period there was a steady decline in both, as freshwater was diverted away from the wetland and salt water intruded further inland. Although mangrove forest was cleared for built development, its coverage has consistently increased in the Swamp from 1957, with the exception of 2003 when there was a decrease by less than 100 ha. This is in contrast to most areas in the tropics where mangrove coverage continue to decline. In this case, the mangrove trees are out-competing/shading marsh vegetation, causing shift in the wetland communities. In the Caroni Ramsar Site, the natural wetland communities generally increased from 1942 to 2003, but declined in 2007, as built development more than doubled. The paper provides spatial coverage, and quantifies land cover from 1942 to 2007. It also identifies reasons for the changes in land cover and uses, and the implications for management. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

In many countries of the Caribbean, tourism is a mainstay to economies. Semi-autonomous Tobago's Buccoo Reef Marine Park (BRMP) was established as one of the island's premier tourist attractions. However, the increasing and poorly regulated activity in the coastal zone that is taking place to complement the burgeoning tourism industry, threatens the ecological integrity of the Buccoo Reef. This paper investigates the synergies between conservation, sustainable tourism and improving societal economic and social well-being. Within a framework that recognises the strategic importance of a competitive tourism product, it examines how the Buccoo Reef impacts the livelihoods and ongoing development in Tobago. It explores the extent and probable causes for the Reef's decline. Proposed is how the Park can better achieve conservation of the reef ecosystem while encouraging economic and social growth on the island, with a goal of more effectively managing and sustainably exploiting the coral reef resources of Tobago. © 2013 United Nations.

Alemu I J.B.,Institute of Marine Affairs | Alemu I J.B.,University of the West Indies | Clement Y.,Institute of Marine Affairs
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Ocean temperatures are increasing globally and the Caribbean is no exception. An extreme ocean warming event in 2010 placed Tobago's coral reefs under severe stress resulting in widespread coral bleaching and threatening the livelihoods that rely on them. The bleaching response of four reef building taxa was monitored over a six month period across three major reefs systems in Tobago. By identifying taxa resilient to bleaching we propose to assist local coral reef managers in the decision making process to cope with mass bleaching events. The bleaching signal (length of exposure to high ocean temperatures) varied widely between the Atlantic and Caribbean reefs, but regardless of this variation most taxa bleached. Colpophyllia natans, Montastraea faveolata and Siderastrea siderea were considered the most bleaching vulnerable taxa. Interestingly, reefs with the highest coral cover showed the greatest decline reef building taxa, and conversely, reefs with the lowest coral cover showed the most bleaching but lowest change in coral cover with little algal overgrowth post-bleaching. © 2014 Alemu I, Clement.

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