THE SITUATION IN PETITE RIVIERE DE NIPPES
Haiti Ocean Project is based in Petite Riviere de Nippes, a community in the Nippes region with close to 30,000 people. There is a sense of order and organization in this village, with great potential to outreach and educate people about their marine environment. A select group of young adults, youth and fishermen in Petite Riviere de Nippes are involved in Haiti Ocean Project, including Claude Pressoir, whose mother is the mayor. When there is a need to get the community involved in a rescue of an important marine species, locals volunteer to help, such as what happened recently with the juvenile manatee that was caught in Grand Boucan. In addition, local fishermen help with the release of juvenile oceanic white tip sharks, that are caught off the coast as well as bring injured sea turtles to the marine conservation center, in an effort to help save them.
THE TRAGEDY OF GRAND BOUCAN
Grand Boucan is a fishing village located in the Nippes Region, on the west side of the Bay of Baraderes. The population is just under 6,000 people and it’s only accessible by sea. Although this community is located in an area designated as a marine protected area, thousands of endangered species are killed here every year, including Hawksbill and green sea turtles, spotted eagle rays and recently a juvenile manatee. With no government presence or enforcement, the fishermen and local community members of Grand Boucan make their own rules, killing whatever and whenever they want.
Unlike other fishing villages, where certain species such as sea turtles and stingrays are accidentally caught in a fishing net that is intended for other fish species, in Grand Boucan, these same sea turtles and stingrays are hunted on purpose. Fishermen make special gillnets solely intended to catch critically endangered sea turtles. Many of these sea turtles are sold to people in Port au Prince or even in the Dominican Republic, as the Hawksbill shell is prized for its beauty and used to make ornaments and jewelry.