Towards Marine Ecosystem- based Management in the Wider Caribbean


Countries of the Wider Caribbean have committed to principled ocean governance through several multilateral environmental and fisheries agreements at both the regional (e.g., the Cartagena Convention’s SPAW Protocol) and international levels (e.g., the Convention on Biological Diver- sity, the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing). They have also committed to the targets for fish- eries and biodiversity conservation adopted at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). However, the ongoing challenge is to put in place the measures required to give effect to these principles at the local, national and regional levels. The ecosystem-based management/eco- system approach to fisheries (EBM/EAF) is prominent in these agree- ments and in the WSSD targets. Implementing an ecosystem-wide ap- proach that encompasses both the human and natural dimensions of ecosystems is an essential component of principled ocean governance. This approach gives prominence to the principles of sustainability, partici- pation and precaution that are needed to effectively govern the world’s oceans.

The Wider Caribbean Region is the most geopolitically diverse and com- plex region in the world (Fanning et al. 2009a). Throughout the region, there are many local, national, subregional, regional and international or- ganisations pursuing various aspects of ocean management. The challenge has always been to integrate or network these to improve their effective- ness and reduce duplication. At the outset of its development, the Carib- bean Large Marine Ecosystem (CLME) and Adjacent Areas Project took up this challenge with a focus on institutional arrangements for good gover- nance of living marine resources. After over 10 years of development, this multi-year initiative – funded by twenty-six countries in the region and the Global Environment Facility of the World Bank – began implementation in mid-2009 and is expected to pursue EBM/EAF for the Caribbean LME and adjacent areas as a basis for ensuring the sustainable use of the region’s shared living marine resources (Fanning et al. 2009a). During the devel- opment of this project, it was evident that there was a lack of clarity and specificity within the Wider Caribbean about what moving towards EBM/ EAF means for governance processes at various institutional levels and geographic scales or for specific coastal and marine resources and ecosys- tems. 

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