Climate change is real. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we have seen and felt its effects over the years. The impacts of climate change have contributed to many outcomes which if not urgently and effectively dealt with could endanger our future sustainability.
Some persons have spent their lives savings trying to combat this phenomenon without much success. Presently, the Mayreau community is battling with limited resources in order to try to save Salt Whistle Bay, one of the most captivating anchorages in the world from the ravages of Climate change.
Salt Whistle Bay is an important part of the tourism product in the Southern Grenadines. It is a haven for yachts and visitors from around the world. It is also a part of the Tobago Cays Marine Park since the island of Mayreau falls within the boundaries of the park.
The marine park collects revenue on a daily basis from the moorings that are located there. Most significantly, many persons from the island earn their livelihood from activities at this important tourism venue. The T-shirt vendors, the small restaurant operators, the boat boys, laundry operators and many other business ventures and tour operators from mainland St. Vincent and the other Grenadine islands depend on this gem of a location for their survival.
The Minister of Finance in his budgetary address of 2019 stated, “Mayreau’s Salt whistle Bay, arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the Eastern Caribbean, a tiny sliver of rapidly eroding land – now less than 6 feet wide – is all that stands between preservation and destruction of this major tourist attraction.” Yet, from that time to now, nothing has been done in regards to the implementation of short term measurers to mitigate against the destruction of this major hub in the Southern Grenadines. The lack of action by the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government is really shocking as it lacks the urgency, seriousness and commitment necessary to save Salt Whistle Bay, our national heritage and safeguard the livelihood of the many persons in Mayreau.
After recognizing the failure of the ULP government to act, in November of 2019, the Honourable Terrance Ollivierre asked of the Minister of Finance, the following question: Can the Minister please provide an update on the current situation in regards to the erosion of the Windward Bay into Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau? Part of his answer was, “The government is devising an action plan at Salt whistle to achieve the following objectives: 1. Protect the isthmus from further erosion; 2. Avoid adaptation solutions that detract from the idyllic beauty of the beach; 3.Use natural material if possible and 4.Establish a solution that is quickly implemented.” The community of Mayreau is still waiting.
The International Monetary Fund in its World Economic Outlook has stated that we must urgently put measurers in place to effectively respond to climate change or face the drastic consequences in the future. We are required to come up with adaptation strategies to help reduce vulnerability and safeguard our people.
The inaction of the government has forced the community of Mayreau to act in an effort to save Salt Whistle Bay. The people are fighting on their own, using their limited resources, scarce tools, bare hands and their imagination to come up with creative means to wrestle against the odds.
There is need for an urgent government response to this crisis. Why hasn’t this government been able to attract the financing necessary from regional or international funding agencies to solve the problem at Salt Whistle Bay? The situation has been fully ventilated in the parliament of this country and at the OECS parliament during its last sitting by our leader, Dr. Godwin Friday. We must save Salt Whistle Bay.