As Party to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Barbados is required to put in place measures to achieve the objectives outlined in Article 8 of the Convention, which states that “Each contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate, prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species”.
To fulfill these obligations, the Government of Barbados through the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification has endorsed the Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded project entitled Preventing Costs of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in Barbados and Countries of the OECS with the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) as the regional executing partner. Under this project, Barbados aims to:
- strengthen existing IAS management frameworks and improve cross sectoral arrangements to reduce IAS threats in terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems.
- eradicate or improve the control or management of IAS impacting species of national significance, reducing threats to these key species; and
- strengthen regional biosecurity through providing mechanisms for collaboration at the regional level and for building capacity to allow individual countires to collaborate at the regional level in preventing the introduction of IAS
These objected are framed within the existing socio-economic environment of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Eastern Caribbean region where national policies, public awareness of IAS issues and the capacity to effectively address the threats of IAS are below desired levels. Additionally, the absense of formal structures for regional collaboration, especially with regard to the management of pathways for their introduction, also provide a significant challenge. These challenges are further exacerbated by the sub-regional characteristic of high trade and movement of people for work and tourism, which makes the the issue of IAS prevention and management of paramount importance.
This project aims to adress the issue of IAS at the national level through the generation of knowledge pertaining to IAS and their pathways, development of policy and regulatory frameworks, public awareness, capacity building, IAS prevention and management; and sub-regionally through the development and implementation of a sub-regional biosecurity plan. This will largely be achieved by engaging with stakeholders at the national and regional levels, within the public sector, private sector and civil society organizations to strengthen regulatory frameworks, increase public awareness and capacity; and through the execution of pilot projects to develop best practices for the management if IAS and the recovery of affected species.
Through this project, Barbados will also continue to fulfil its commitments under the CBD as it related to Aichi Biodiversity Target 9 and Program 4, which focuses on the prevention, control, and management of Invasive Alien Species.
Excluding marine turtles, there are 13 reptile species reported on Barbados, though two are probably extinct. The Barbados leaf-toed gecko (Phyllodactylus pulcher) and the Barbados threadsnake (Tetracheilostoma carlae) are endemic, as was the probably extinct Barbados racer (Erythrolamprus perfuscus) and skink (Alinea lanceolata). The Barbados threadsnake is a species of blind threadsnake. It is the smallest known snake species. This member of the Leptotyphlopidae family is found only 15 on the Caribbean island of Barbados. A fourth species, the Barbados anole (Anolis extremus), was endemic to Barbados but has been introduced to other islands. There are also several introduced reptiles including Hemidactylus mabouia, which may be having a negative impact on Phyllodactylus pulcher, and Ramphotyphlops braminus which may be negatively impacting Tetracheilostoma carlae. Four species of sea turtle are recorded from the waters of Barbados: the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), green turtle (Chelonia mydas), and, rarely, the loggerhead (Caretta caretta).
1. Establishment of a Bio-secure Area for Conservation of Leaf-toed Gecko
The status of Barbados endemic reptiles are much less well understood than the Jamaican iguana (for instance) as both Barbados species are small and cryptic and/or nocturnal. Recent assessments of Phyllodactylus indicate their presence in coastal limestone cliff habitats, but how their distribution and abundance is affected by invasives (rats, mongoose and house geckos) is currently unknown. The distribution of Tetracheilostoma is presently unassessed. Establishment of a bio-secure site will offer opportunities to study these little known species, and a place to breed them for reintroduction into the wild, as necessary. Eradication of rats and mongoose from Barbados is not proposed, but could be achieved at a small biosecure site.
2. Control of IAS within key Gully Ecosystems
Monitoring of invasive species control and habitat restoration will enhance efforts advanced under the pilot above for stabilization and subsequent increases in populations of native endemic species, such as the Barbados leaf-toed gecko (Phyllodactylus pulcher) and the Barbados threadsnake (Tetracheilostoma carlae) and furthermore contribute to the valuable ecosystem services (watershed protection) provided by the Gully System. Activities will include the development of a manual on how best to identify the target species, including seedlings and how to eradicate them.
3. Rat and Mongoose Control at Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches
Barbados is currently home to the second-largest hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) nesting population in the Wider Caribbean, with up to 900 females nesting per year. Reduction in eating of turtle eggs will increase and stabilize populations of hawksbill, measurable impact. Barbados is currently home to the second-largest (critically endangered) hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) nesting population in the Wider Caribbean, with up to 900 females nesting per year. Mongoose predation on hawksbill eggs is confined to particular beaches (one of which, Bath, is genetically distinct from the rest of the island) and the behaviour may be socially transmitted. Eradication of mongooses at these locations is feasible. Once traps have been bought and persons trained in trapping and safe handling, the support of local hotels and communities in sustaining trapping effort is anticipated. If not, consideration could be given to the implementation of a small bounty by the Government. Reduction in eating of turtle eggs and hatchlings will have a measurable impact on reproductive success.
4. Lionfish Assessment and Management at High Biodiversity Value Reefs
Focused lionfish control efforts in strategic locations, targeted interventions have been found to have sustainable impacts in increasing recruitment at key life stages of coral reef fishes. such as the fairy basslet (Gramma loreto), bridled cardinalfish (Apogon aurolineatus), white grunt (Haemulon plumierii), bicolor damselfish (Stegastes partitus), several wrasses (Halichoeres bivittatus, H. garnoti, and Thalassoma bifasciatum), striped parrotfish (Scarus iserti), Criteria for site selection and indicator species for monitoring to be selected during preparation process. Lessons learned from targeted removal experiences (baited traps for instance) in The Bahamas, Bonaire, Cayman Islands will be integrated into project design.
For effective IAS management in small island developing states across the Caribbean it is critical to have coordination and collaboration within countries. This will be strengthen under component one. More importantly however to have cooperation and collaboration between countries. Component three seeks to achieve this collaboration by providing mechanisms for collaboration at the regional level and for building capacity and providing to allow individual countries to collaborate at the regional level in preventing the introduction of IAS. Repeatedly it has been shown that once an invasive species enter the region it is only a matter of time it spread to neighboring countries.
Improved Regional Cooperation
This outcome will be achieved via the following outputs:
- Regional strategy for prevention and surveillance at ports of entry (i.e customs) and Regional IAS Working Groups
- Database for interceptions at ports
- Plan for the Regional Financing System for shared IAS developed.
Current practices at ports of entry will be reviewed to identify gaps in surveillance activities and develop an action plan for upgrading infrastructure; human capacity and adopting international best practices for biosecurity at ports of entry. This enhanced biosecurity will allow for greater trade while reducing the risks of introduced IAS. A standardized database for recording data and information will allow sharing of information in real time afford practical collaboration between countries in preventing introductions to the region as a whole.
Current interceptions at ports of entries are documented in a manual system. The information is not shared among stakeholders within the country or with other countries. The database that will be developed will assist in recording interceptions, give surveillance officers information on potential risks arriving passengers may pose from a particular destination. It will also generate reports that describe the risks and allow these to be shared among stakeholder within a country.
Strategic Plan for the Regional Financing System for shared IAS developed. Efforts could be based on coordinated activities associated with oil spills and other man-made disasters in the Caribbean. For example, the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response, and Co-operation (OPRC 1990) and the Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Oil Spills in the Wider Caribbean Region, (Oil Spills Protocol 1983) under the Convention for the Development and Protection of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region, (Cartagena Convention 1983), and the Caribbean Island OPRC Plan 2008 have systems in place which include regional cooperation in dealing with oil spills.
Coordinated Regional Response to IAS
This outcome will be achieved via the following output:
- Regional technical capacity developed to conduct risk assessment and measure economic impact of IAS;
- CIAS.NET strengthen as a learning network for IAS
- Regional App or ID IAS risk cards for prioritized species that can affect important biodiversity, agriculture, and human health developed for ports of entry
The second part of component three seeks to enhance regional and national cooperation to reduce the risks associated with the introduction of IAS. It will valorize some of the results and outputs in component one to benefit the wider Caribbean. The pillars for the strategy and coordination will rest on: improving risk assessments; upgrading infrastructure where feasible; building human capacity and adopting best practices for surveillance and early detection. The following action are some actions contemplated under this prong of component 3.
Regional technical capacity developed to conduct risk assessment and measure economic impact of IAS. National capacity in the sub region to conduct risk assessment and measure economic impact of IAS and benefits of their management will be conducted. Training for port officials on capture, detecting, detaining and eliminating possible IAS threats on site will lead to greater detection of IAS and better handling and treatment of intercepted samples.
CIAS.NET strengthen as a learning network for IAS. All the training course done under the project will be posted as e-learning modules. Awareness module developed and tailored for agriculture, health, wildlife and forestry, fisheries, NGOs, community organizations, academia, volunteers and national security personnel engaged in surveillance. Awareness module developed and delivered for personnel engaged in surveillance to the open sources of data for identifying IAS. Database management and linked website and regional blacklists; invasive species for surveillance and control of importations.
Regional App or ID IAS risk cards for prioritized species that can affect important biodiversity, agriculture, and human health developed for ports of entry. A regional strategy for prevention and surveillance at ports of entry (i.e. customs) and Regional IAS Working Groups. The species that can affect important biodiversity will be given preference for inclusion in the Mobile App. Risk cards for prioritized species that can affect important biodiversity, agriculture, and human health developed for ports of entry will also be developed for use in situations where it’s not possible to access the mobile app while conducting surveillance activates.