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Caribbean Nations Strive to Close Gaps in Marine Area Protections

February 2015

(Washington) A new study by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) will help lawmakers in the Caribbean achieve a stronger and more uniform approach toward enforcement in marine protected areas(MPAs). The report reviews and compares MPA laws based on the types of regulated activities allowed in MPAs and the enforcement powers they provide to enforcement agents.

Legal Frameworks for MPA Enforcement in the Caribbean: Challenges and Opportunities fulfills a recommendation by regional practitioners that emerged during a peer-to-peer workshop organized by the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) and hosted by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Twenty-two MPA managers from 14 countries and territories attended the workshop, where participating MPA managers identified a common need to better understand best practices in MPA legislation. ELI’s work identified model approaches as well as gaps where laws and regulations could be strengthened.

“ELI is excited to help Caribbean nations with the legal challenges associated with their new marine protected areas,” said Read Porter, ELI Senior Attorney. “We’re proud that our work will not only help protect important fish stocks and coral reefs, but also the livelihoods that depend on a healthy ocean.”

Identifying the similarities and differences in statutes across eight Caribbean nations, the study also looks at how violations are prosecuted and the penalties available. Legal Frameworks provides a basis for individual countries and the Caribbean as a whole to improve the legal foundations for MPA enforcement. The eight nations include:

•          Antigua and Barbuda

•          The Bahamas

•          British Virgin Islands

•          Dominican Republic

•          Grenada

•          Saint Lucia

•          Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

•          Turks and Caicos Islands

The work exemplifies ELI’s vision of a healthy environment, prosperous economies, and vibrant communities founded on the rule of law. Without strong and consistent enforcement, environmental protection based on legal regimes will likely fail and communities, economies, and ecosystems will suffer.

The report is available for free download at http://eli-ocean.org/mpa/caribbean-mpa-enforcement/.

Of related interest from ELI Press: Principles of Caribbean Environmental Law