Report on Marine Zoning in St. Kitts and Nevis
Human activities are placing increased and often conflicting demands on coastal and marine waters worldwide. As a result, important coastal areas are under intense pressure, threatening the biological diversity of marine habitats and the ecosystem services they provide, such as coastal protection, food security, tourism amenities and biodiversity protection. Marine zoning, one of the possible outcomes of a marine spatial planning process, has emerged recently as an approach to address these issues. The case for marine zoning is particularly strong in the Caribbean, but there are few examples to date of comprehensive marine zoning for tropical island nations.
This project initiated a marine spatial planning process and developed a draft marine zoning design for a small island nation in the Eastern Caribbean. St. Kitts and Nevis was chosen as the project site because it met a set of selection criteria, including that its government was aware of marine zoning as a useful management approach and was interested in applying it in their country.
The goal of this project was to lay the groundwork for future implementation of marine zoning in St. Kitts and Nevis by assisting in the development of a marine zoning design and providing a set of tools that could inform this and other management efforts. The project had two primary guiding principles: (1) rely on the best available science for making decisions and (2) engage stakeholders at all possible levels. The project team used the following process:
- Engage Stakeholders. The project included more than a dozen formal and numerous informal meetings with diverse stakeholders and decision makers from government, community groups, the private business sector, and fishers’ associations.
- Establish Clear Objectives. Through a participatory process, stakeholders and decision makers defined a vision for marine zoning in their waters. This vision was used as a basis for all project activities.
- Build a Multi-objective Database. The project team devoted significant resources to gathering, evaluating and generating spatial data on ecological characteristics and human uses of the marine environment. Three main approaches were used to fill data gaps: (a) expert mapping, (b) fisher surveys, and (c) habitat surveys.
- Develop Decision Support Products. To help the people of St Kitts and Nevis to make planning decisions, finalize a zoning design, and implement a marine zoning plan, the project team produced a spatial database, georeferenced portable document format (PDF) files, a web-based map viewer, maps of fisheries uses and values, seabed habitat maps, compatibility maps, and outputs of multi-objective analysis.
- Generate Draft Zones. As a culmination of the aforementioned activities, the project team created a marine zoning design that was reviewed by select government agency staff and stakeholder groups.
The draft marine zoning design and all of the project activities leading up to it have built a strong foundation for marine zoning in St. Kitts and Nevis. To build on this foundation, we recommend additional steps that the government and stakeholders of St. Kitts and Nevis can take to finalize and implement a marine zoning plan. Every effort should be made to continue this process of open debate between sectors that helped identify conflicts and means of co-existence between different users of the marine environment. By adopting marine zoning, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis can take action to ensure the sustainability of their ocean resources.
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