Two and a half years ago, fishermen of all ages came to us for help from our community in Ocho Rios, their livelihoods threatened by an alarming drop in size and number of fish (↓600% since the 1950s). Two years and lots of hard work later, the White River Fish Sanctuary is now in operation. All the wardens are trained to talk to violators to get them on board. They also facilitate a 5-year coral restoration program, the first phase of which is progressing well, and 3 of the wardens are now trained coral gardeners. The White River Fish Sanctuary is run by the White River Fishermen Association in an equal partnership with the White River Marine Association (stakeholders including the Jamaica Inn Foundation, Sandals Foundation, Couples Resorts Jamaica, partners, NGOs). Both are non-profits.
Why create a Fish Sanctuary?
Since the 1970s a combination of causes including severe weather events, man (overfishing) and nature (sea urchin disease) has led to an 85% reduction in coral coverage. Coral reefs play an essential role in marine ecosystems, each element interdependent upon one another, reefs need fish to stay clean of unhealthy algae, fish need reefs for protection and as breeding grounds, and we all need reefs to protect the coastline.
How you can help:
Join us in achieving our main objective:
500% increase in size and number of fish in 5 years.
Donations are now accepted through our new GoFund Me Account, click here to donate.
Jamaica Inn Foundation Initiatives
Before patrols, up to 10 spear fishers and fishermen stringing nets across reefs could be seen every day, operating within what is now the Sanctuary, the size of their catch and fish pathetically small, today there are none. Already the fish are recovering. Now they can grow to their full breeding potential, producing millions instead of thousands of eggs, their progeny spilling out into the wider sea for the benefit of all, not least the fishers. As a founding stakeholder and driving force behind this project, the Jamaica Inn Foundation helps fund the wardens. Without them it just wouldn’t work. Please help us make a difference. US$20,000 funds 3 full-time wardens for a year. 24/7 patrols started 1st November 2017 and they have been doing a fantastic job of protecting the surrounding areas and spreading awareness to the fishermen about the importance of sustainable fishing practices.
The Sanctuary has also just implemented a 5-year coral restoration project in progress, protected by the wardens. Three of them are also trained as coral ‘gardeners’. The team has already begun to plant newly cultivated coral and we look forward to see the fruits of their labour as the year progresses.