Director Of The Environment Says: SEA LEVEL RISE AFFECTING SHOAL BAY EAST
Anguilla’s Director of the Environment, Karim Hodge, has expressed the view that sea level rise, an agent of climate change,is among a number of factors which have begun to wreak havoc on the stretch of coastline at Shoal Bay East.
“The realities which are today evident at Shoal Bay East are the outcome of a combination of events,” he told The Anguillian. “They include major hurricane damage to the marine ecosystems, coral reef and dune erosion from the same. More recently, severe dune erosion occurred as a result of storm surge and seasonal ground swells which caused over forty feet of beach to disappear.
“This was in addition to beach loss caused by previous hurricanes. It would be also unfair not to mention the large scale sand-mining which has been on-going on the south-eastern end of the island for decades which caused two beaches to disappear. Additionally, the creation of manmade beaches along the coastline referred to as the sea rocks is also of concern. Sediment transport, bathymetric and hydrodynamic parameters have clearly changed as a result of the aforementioned and must be factored into the scenario when considering the unfolding realities at Shoal Bay East.”
Mr. Hodge continued: “What is perhaps most needed to address the impacts of climate change/sea level rise/coastal erosion, in regard toShoalBay(Anguillaas a whole), is the adaptation of measures to address environmental resources and land degradation. These must not be limited to, but must include: regulations for the creation of environmental resource protection and land use plans and corresponding enforcement strategies; flood risk analysis with land zoning and flood mitigation actions; strengthening of institutional capacity to enforce land zoning restrictions including the application of regulations governing beach setbacks for construction; the training of fishers and other marine operators in sustainable marine practices. Lastly, we must move away from placing all of our economic engines along the coastline. Our development process must encourage investors to place tourism investment landward and give our coastline and sand dunes…a break, remembering that they are living.”
Mr. Hodge advised that there would be further unknown impacts on other infrastructure in addition to the population settlements atShoalBayin the short term. He noted that a large-scale awareness and education initiative had been embarked on, by various players, to bring about behavioural change and ensure the engagement of the public and access to information.
Speaking in general, he stated that there were practices inAnguillawhich would inadvertently increase vulnerability. He identified some of the immediate concerns as being “policies that lead to the destruction of mangroves; relaxation of coastal setback regulations; absence of comprehensive integrated coastal zone management plans; and laws preventing the use of recycled water by hotels.”
Mr. Hodge said further: “The masses of Anguillians have never been aware or aggressive with regard to the environment in governance, even before the climate change debate entered the arena. These are national issues that our leaders must address because if the environment goes, so doesAnguilla. If Anguilla continues on its present course of inaction; if it continues to refuse to address climate change adequately, the estimated cost of that inaction, in the next fifteen years, will be a conservative estimate of ten per cent of our GDP…The typical Anguillian will never see a living coral reef and the truth is that most of the reef system – our last defence from coastal erosion at Shoal Bay East – is dead, hence the fallout.
“Most adaptation initiatives on islands like Anguilla focus on enabling activities which include vulnerability and capacity assessments and, more recently, the concept of mainstreaming of climate change into national polices and laws. The intent should be to ensure that consistency with sustainable development increases our adaptive capacity to survive future climate change scenarios. However, some possible adaptation options available for Anguilla’s vulnerable sectors such as tourism, and its supporting amenities – are and can includethe development of hazard maps – and the development and implementation of appropriate environmental protection regulations, building codes and land use policies.”