Pilot Zoning Plan
The case for marine zoning is particularly strong in the Caribbean, but there are no examples to date of comprehensive MSP for tropical island nations. This project initiated a MSP process and developed a draft marine zoning plan for a small island nation in the Eastern Caribbean. The Federation of 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. St. Kitts and Nevis has an EEZ of 20,400 km2and a continental shelf area of 845 km2. The draft zoning map covers the continental shelf area.
The coastal waters around St. Kitts and Nevis are used for a wide range of activities. Tourism is the major economic driver, and stretches of the coast are dominated by coastal tourism development, private yachts, cruise ships, and associated water activities. Additionally, as elsewhere in the Caribbean, commercial and artisanal fisheries form a significant part of the local economy. Fisheries involve vessels of varying sizes and capacities, using a variety of gear types and fishing strategies and covering a large part of the coastal waters. Combined with the inter- and intra-island transportation needs of a small coastal state—including ferries, cruise ships, personal recreation vessels, and large industry vessels—within the limited shelf area of St. Kitts and Nevis, the result is a congested marine environment with mounting conflicts.
The goal of this pilot project was to lay the groundwork for future implementation of MSP and 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, geo-referenced 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; and
- 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 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, the project recommended additional steps that the government and stakeholders of St. Kitts and Nevis should take to complete and implement a marine zoning plan. It also recommended that every effort should be made to continue the process of open debate among sectors that helped identify conflicts and compatibilities among different users of the marine environment.