Soufriere & Scott's Head Marine Reserve
The Soufriere-Scott’s Head Marine Reserve (SSMR) is located on the south-western tip of the island. It encompasses the villages of Scott’s Head and Soufrière up to Anse Bateau, near the village of Pointe Michel. It is the most picturesque bay on the island, both below and above the water.
The region is dominated by the Scott’s Head or Cachacrou Peninsula; separating the calmer Caribbean Sea from the wilder Atlantic Ocean. During the island’s turbulent past the headland was home to a battalion of Scots Guards, who used to fire warning cannon when fleets from Martinique approached. There is still an old gun emplacement there with a commanding view across the bay to Roseau, and across the channel to Martinique.
The bay is an extinct volcanic crater plummeting to indeterminate depths as a lava chute. There are many Carib myths and legends associated with the region, adding to its mystery. Dive sites such as Craters Edge, Scott’s Head Pinnacles, L’Abym, Dangleben’s and Champagne have helped consistently place Dominica in the Top 10 Diving Destinations world-wide.
Why was it established?
The SSMR was established under the Fisheries Act #11 of 1987 and by the Statutory Rules and Orders (SRO) #18 of 1998. Due to increasing demand placed upon a limited resource by various users a protection and management plan had to be implemented, the Reserve was ratified for the following reasons:
- To reduce user conflicts
- To preserve the traditional fishing practices
- To ensure conservation of the resource for all users.
- How is it managed?
A Local Area Management Authority (LAMA) was established under SRO#17 of 1998. This legal authority is made up of various stakeholders relating to the enterprise namely; fishermen, village councilors, The Hospitality Industry, Dominica Watersports Association, Dominica Coast Guard and the Fisheries Division.
LAMA is charged with managing the affairs of the SSMR in keeping with its rules and regulations. Wardens are empowered by law to collect user fees, maintain the moorings, monitor the reefs and maintain the infrastructure.
What happens to the User Fee?
All persons entering the SSMR are required to pay a nominal fee, either to the Wardens, directly to the manager at the office, or through an approved Dive operation. The user fee goes straight back into maintaining the SSMR and its resources.
What are Zones?
Within the SSMR there are four zones. Each set aside for its own particular activity.
- Fish nursery area: this area at Soufriere was determined to be a valuable spawning ground for many pelagic and reef fish; there is no fishing allowed in this region.
- Recreation area: The section located at the beach called “Tous sable” is set aside as a recreational area for swimming and snorkeling from shore.
- Fishing priority area: This part of the SSMR is set aside for the local fishery, there are strict guidelines governing this region.
- Scuba Diving: There are several areas set aside for scuba diving activities, these are all demarcated by a buoy placed there for dive boats only.
Do’s & Don’ts
- Enjoy the beauty of the bay, above and below the water
- Please dispose of any garbage you generate and or any you find.
- Use and approved Dominica Watersports Operator to conduct your aquatic adventures safely by boat.
- Jet Ski in the Marine Reserve
- Stand on or break off corals
- Dispose of or dump any litter, soil, debris or pollutants into the Marine environment
- Moor or anchor in the reserve without express permission from the Fisheries Division
- Take samples of any fish, sponge coral or marine organism.
- Use a spear gun for the purposes of fishing
- Scuba Dive independently without special permission from the Chief Fisheries officer
What else should you know?
Yacht/Boat users should be advised that the Customs & Excise division issues a coast wide permit, which allows anchorage in certain areas around Dominica’s Coast. The SSMR is totally off limits to this and only certain activities are permitted within the area. The peninsula at Cachacrou is also the starting point for the proposed Waitukubuli trail, a hiking trail which runs the length of Dominica.
See below for a complete list of Dive Centers in Dominica.