ICRI's Coordination and Planning Committee meeting, Turks and Caicos Islands, November 2003
INTERNATIONAL CORAL REEF INITIATIVE (ICRI)
Coordination and Planning Committee (CPC)
Turks and Caicos Islands, 17 - 19 November 2003
Thanks to the generous support of the UK Government, the Ramsar Secretariat was able to attend the first ICRI CPC meeting of the UK/Seychelles Secretariat, which was held 17-19 November in the Turks and Caicos Islands and co-chaired by Rolph Payet of the Seychelles and John Roberts of the UK.
The full report of the meeting can be found at: http://www.icriforum.org - About ICRI.
The meeting was attended by 52 experts representing governments, NGOs and IGOs. The meeting was considered very successful and well attended.
Norway was welcomed as an observer who jointly with UNEP made an interesting presentation on present status and concerns of cold water coral reefs, which raises the issue about whether the Ramsar definition of wetlands covers deep-sea northern coral reefs as well as warm water shallow ones.
Ramsar presented its progress report regarding coral reefs and the PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded from the ICRI forum webpage, as can the presentations made by the other participants.
ICRI members were pleased to learn that the number of Ramsar sites with coral reefs has doubled since we first attended the meeting in Guadeloupe at the end of 1999, but they took note of the need for stronger efforts from all concerned to increase the protected marine sites before COP9 to be held in Uganda in 2005.
As follow-up to the meeting, the ICRI Forum has included a page on International Conventions and Coral Reefs which lists Ramsar coral sites until November 2003, and it has a direct link to our webpage. Additionally, the Ramsar Secretariat plans to begin a series of Web pages on coral reefs and other under-represented wetlands, following the Standing Committee meeting in January.
The second meeting of the CPC is proposed for 3-4 July 2004 in Okinawa, immediately after 10th International Coral Reef Symposium, which will take place from 28 June to 2 July; and the third for February 2005 in the Seychelles to avoid an excessive number of meetings during the two-year period.
At the end of the ICRI meeting a training session for representatives of island states took place, regarding the Ramsar site designation process, and it was considered an extremely useful session with several good questions. Judith Garland-Campbell, Director of the Department of Environmental & Coastal Resources of Turks and Caicos Islands, mentioned that it will be extremely useful for them to take part in the policy drafting process that will be carried out by Bahamas in 2004, if the Ramsar Small Grants Fund project is approved, as Turks & Caicos is planning to undertake the same exercise in the near future.
Additionally, thanks to the assistance of Mike Pienkowski, chairman of the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum, and Bryan Naqqi Manco, Conservation Officer of the Turks & Caicos National Trust, a visit to the largest UK Ramsar site was organized. The site (North, Middle & East Caicos Islands) is quite impressive, with an immense diversity of vegetation types and biodiversity. The National Trust has plans to develop ecotourism in the site, which will generate some resources for its management and conservation. A concern for the site, however, is the amount of scrap junk, as it is apparent that a long time ago the site was used to dispose of old cars.
North, Middle & East Caicos Islands Ramsar Site
Margarita Astrálaga en route to the meeting
Intertidal algal flats, and Margarita