Inter-American Environmental Program
Advancing Coastal and Marine Management in the Eastern Caribbean
In collaboration with Sustainable Grenadines, Inc. (SusGren), a non-governmental organization based in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, ELI is working to strengthen marine governance and management in the Grenadine Bank.
The Eastern Caribbean is a biologically diverse marine system, supporting many livelihoods through its fishing and tourism industries. However, the cumulative impacts from multiple human activities in the environment make this region one of the most heavily impacted coastal ecosystems in the world. Recognizing these threats to its vital marine resources, the Grenadine Islands - comprising the nations of Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) - have committed to improving the protection and management of the region. Together, Grenada and SVG have established several marine protected areas (MPAs), and both countries are seeking to reevaluate and revamp their MPA governance frameworks as well as their larger coastal and marine management strategies.
In 2010, ELI established a partnership with Sustainable Grenadines, Inc. (SusGren) to help the two Eastern Caribbean countries accomplish two basic goals:
- Strengthen reef management in the Grenada Bank
- Establish a framework for comprehensive marine zoning in the Grenadines Islands
To assist with efforts to strengthen reef management in the region, ELI is making recommendations for changes to Grenada's MPA governance structure, including bolstering the legal authority of existing co-management structures through which local stakeholders are integrated into the decision-making process. We are also working with the Grenada Fisheries Division and MPA enforcement officers to strengthen their understanding of MPA legislation and to help ensure that the officials are equipped to enforce the regulations that have been established for the MPAs.
In November 2011, ELI helped organize and facilitate a workshop on MPA enforcement in Grenada, where ELI presented on the basics of marine law enforcement and methods to promote compliance through outreach efforts and communication campaigns. ELI has also developed materials for MPA wardens to support their enforcement efforts in the MPAs, including a script for officials to use when approaching suspected violators and a comprehensive list of illegal activities in each MPA.
Our work establishing a framework for multiuse marine zoning in the Grenadines is intended to inform Grenada and SVG's efforts to implement marine zoning and marine spatial planning (MSP) in their oceans. Marine spatial planning is an emerging ocean management tool that plans for and allocates multiple uses of the marine environment in a coordinated and spatially-explicit manner. The need for MSP has emerged out of the realization that most nations currently manage their marine environment on a sector-by-sector basis, which can result in conflicts among sectors and can also have cumulative, harmful impacts on the surrounding ecosystem. Using a marine zoning process, analogous to the terrestrial strategy of land use planning, can help ensure that marine-based activities are coordinated and carried out in a way that minimizes impacts to the marine environment.
Like other nations that have explored marine spatial planning, Grenada and SVG both already have laws that can be used to facilitate this new type of marine management. However, carrying out marine spatial planning in the Grenadines poses a particular challenge given that the islands are transboundary - spanning two independent nations. This means that MSP in the Grenadine Bank must be implemented and enforced across international borders.
To help both countries move forward with MSP, ELI is identifying existing policies and laws that can be used to support a collaborative, transboundary approach to marine spatial planning in the region in the region. We are also identifying gaps and barriers to MSP implementation that currently exist as a result of the fragmented marine management approach in the region. Ultimately, ELI will use its legal and policy analysis to make a series of recommendations for actions to be taken in order to legally implement marine zoning and marine spatial planning in Grenada and SVG.
In addition to our collaboration with SusGren, we are working in concert with members of the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) at the University of the West Indies.
ELI's efforts in the Eastern Caribbean are ongoing, and examples of our work in this region will be posted here as they are completed. ELI's Eastern Caribbean staff consists of Senior Attorneys Sandra Nichols and John Pendergrass, Visiting Attorney Greta Swanson, and Research Associates Ariana Spawn and Zach Jylkka. For more information about what ELI staff are doing to enhance coastal and marine management around the world, visit our Ocean Program.
If you have any questions or comments about our work in the Eastern Caribbean, please contact