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Oracabessa Bay


Conservation benefit: Establishing a furnished field office and providing equipment for the enforcement of the 150-acre sanctuary

Date Approved: 06.2011


This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

The Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary is a collaborative project between the local fishermens’ cooperative and the Oracabessa Foundation. Realizing that fish stocks were rapidly declining, the fishermen reached out to the foundation. Oracabessa Bay is an important fish breeding area. Its plentiful mangroves and estuarine areas provide nursery habitat that is perfect for fish – if they are given a bit of breathing room to grow and reproduce. Since 2008, the cooperative and the foundation have worked side by side to move the sanctuary from concept to reality. The sanctuary is now operational. Six wardens, all local fishermen, work in rotation to provide coverage.

Seacology is funding a building that will serve as the headquarters for sanctuary operations. Like the Seacology-funded field office and barracks at Jamaica’s Portland Bight Protected Area, this building will be constructed from modified shipping containers. It will serve as a focal point for sanctuary administration and provide storage for field and scientific equipment.

Project Updates

October 2018

Jamaica field rep Krishna Desai and program manager Mary Randolph visited the field office and met with sanctuary manager Inilek Wilmot and Oracabessa Foundation director Jon Gosse. The fish sanctuary is a success; fish stocks have replenished in the no-take area, and fishermen are now able to get a good catch in the areas just outside the sanctuary. Krishna and Mary spotted several large tarpon and hundreds of smaller fish just off the dock in the sanctuary.

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January 2015

Seacology made a grant for construction of a wooden roof over the Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary field office, which was constructed from used shipping containers.

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June 2012

The field station project was completed in late 2011. The station consists of a shipping container which has been repurposed into an office and public education facility, and for equipment storage. The station is being used for fish sanctuary operations; a number of dignitaries and officials were present at the official opening in March 2012. At the completion of the project there was a small balance of funds remaining; these funds were used to refurbish the bathroom facility at the fishermen’s cooperative, which is located next door to the field station.

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December 2011

The Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary Office Construction Project is complete. The major work under the project included the purchase and interior fit-out of a used shipping container, clearing office site and constructing foundation, transportation of container to site, installation of exterior electrical fittings, purchase of office equipment (computer, desks, etc), government inspection of interior/exterior electrical fittings, and connection to electrical service. The office is going to play a key role in organizational capacity building efforts. The current Peace Corps volunteer has signed on to extend for a 3rd year of service, and will be working closely with the wardens and sanctuary manager to put in place the systems and policies needed to efficiently organize sanctuary operations. Other recent developments include completion of a US$14,000 project funded by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica to produce a sanctuary management plan; and award of a US$50,000 from the UNDP’s Global Environment Facility to purchase a warden patrol boat and motor, plant 2,000 pieces of coral in Oracabessa Bay, restore 1,300 square meters of sea turtle nesting habitat, and explore how to maximize the estuarine potential of Jacks River.

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