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UWI's new Marine Lab to reverse destruction of Portland reefs

The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona in collaboration with TBA21–Academy and its Founder Francesca von Habsburg are very proud to launch the Alligator Head Marine Lab.
This is a new platform created with the aim to reverse the destructive tendencies that have plagued the coast of Portland, so as to revitalise the reefs and protect the underwater sea life.
Portland is one of the most beautiful environments in Jamaica due to its dramatic coastline at the foothills of the Blue Mountains, its rainforest habitat, its rich mangroves, pristine beaches and numerous snorkelling and diving locations. However over the years, very little has been done to protect and preserve the whole area, therefore the reef is in an alarming state, the sealife below the surface is in urgent need of everyone’s care and attention.
The Alligator Head Marine Lab (AHML) has been created to raise awareness of these importantissues, by pursuing a long tested conservation and sustainable development program through scientific research in collaboration with The University of West Indies, and a strong community outreach with the support of the PEPA (Portland Environment Protection Association). This involves education and policy making, and the partnership of Reef Check Dominican Republic, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering people to save our reefs and oceans. AHML has been set up with a minimum of a 5-year commitment from Alligator Head and TBA21–Academy. The initiative hopes to galvanize public support and to raise funds and awareness to support its programmes, in order to persevere with its mission to protect, restore and preserve for generations to come.
Statement from Francesca von HabsburgFounder and Chairwoman of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
As we become more aware, not only of what we have lost but how we can get it back, we can thank the good Lord to have given us a sea that can recover with a life system that is restorable, if only we could all understand how important it is to give it a chance. Let’s all work together to give it that chance. The Ocean will do the rest!
Statement from Dayne BuddoAcademic Coordinator at the Centre of Marine Science, UWI
As an island, it is even more important to focus on marine protection, especially with so many people depending on the coral reef and its associated habitats for their livelihoods. Portland is one of the most beautiful natural marine environments in Jamaica, but as the years have gone by, I have seen first hand that it is degrading and is in need of restoration and rehabilitation. But also our actions on land directly impact the marine life that surrounds us, therefore its critical that each and everyone of us share that same sense of responsibility and is conscious of which impact their actions have. There is still much to protect, and it’s only with a strong commitment by the local community to conserve and protect its resources, supported by experience and scientific methodology provided by the UWI, that we can have any real chance of returning the area to its former splendour and vitality. This project weaves together all concerned parties and is very exciting and ground-breaking, and I am personally very proud to be given the opportunity to be a part of it.
About The University of the West Indies, Mona
The UWI owns and operates two marine laboratories, the Port Royal Marine Lab (South Coast) and the Discovery Bay Marine Lab (North Coast). For some time now, the University has recognized that there is a widening knowledge gap of the marine environment in the eastern section of the island. With this new opportunity, Portland will finally get the kind of attention it needs to protect its natural resources. Knowledge gained will filter directly into policy, legislation and on-the-ground management so that this critical area can be conserved.
About TBA21–Academy
TBA21–Academy is an itinerant site of cultural production and interdisciplinary exchange founded by Francesca von Habsburg and launched in 2011. It integrates art, science and sustainability, bringing artists, scientists and thinkers together. TBA21–Academy aims to raise important ecological, economic and social issues that affect the ocean.

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