The Caribbean Open Trade Support (COTS) program of USAID/Barbados is designed to facilitate the transition of selected Organization of Eastern Caribbean States member states to open trade, and to enable the countries to compete more successfully and be more sustainable in the global economy. To this end, COTS will implement a wide range of activities over a four-year period geared toward:
- Enabling businesses to compete more effectively in the global economy
- Enhancing public-private sector interaction and dialogue leading to improved public policy dialogue
- Assisting government institutions and agencies to remove administrative barriers to growth of the private sector
- Increasing the private sector’s and the media’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities of the new trading regimes
- Increasing the region’s resilience to natural disasters
- Mitigating the impacts of human disturbance on ecosystems and improving the institutional framework for managing protected areas
The economic future of the Eastern Caribbean is intimately linked to the ability of the sub-region to protect its rich biodiversity endowment while allowing for sustainable use. COTS has joined forces with government, civil society, and private sector conservation activities to support biodiversity conversation and policy, to better understand the costs and economic benefits of in situ conservation, to identify and mitigate the impacts of human disturbance on ecosystems, to improve the institutional framework for managing protected areas and to develop economic activities compatible with conservation. In conformity with USAID Biodiversity Code, COTS strives to implement biodiversity conservation activities that are threats-based, site-specific, and that lead to explicit biodiversity actions and measurable improvement.
In terms of direct threats to marine biodiversity, the project has identified coastal zone management issues including quarrying, wastewater discharge and improper civil works that threaten critical marine habitats through sedimentation and nutrient discharge. Yet, the most significant threat appears to be coastal quarry operations. Because of heavy demand for construction material throughout the Caribbean, quarrying activity in Dominica has increased.
Until very recently, all the quarrying industries operated north of Roseau (capital city) on the west side of the island, between the communities of Coulibistrie and Colihaut. This area comprised one of the oldest and largest sites and has been in use for more than 30 years, with smaller sites around the island in use for a little over a decade. Last year, a new site came into operation south of Roseau in the community of Pointe-Michel. Recently, a new permit has been granted for a quarry in Coulibistrie for a site of approximately 200 acres.
Extraction of basaltic rock for construction gravel occurs most often in steep areas, adjacent to important surface water features, and nearly always within a kilometer of the coast itself where a very important fishery is located.
The quarry industry in Dominica has evolved so far in an unregulated (i.e., lack of enforcement) environment. However in recent years the tourism industry has become very concerned by the extent of the operations and the impact on the landscape of the “Nature Island.” Communities where the sites are located complain about respiratory problems and fishermen claim that their catches are declining. Concerned by the negative impact of the industry on marine biodiversity, COTS aims to work with the various administrations involved (Land Planning, Fisheries, Forestry and Environment), as well as with the quarries themselves to help navigate these concerns.
The Government of Dominica has signaled its intention to mitigate the impact of quarry operations on the natural environment and, as a result, has drafted a Quarry Code of Practice that is proposed to become the legal mechanism to drive environmental performance and compliance within the industry.