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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Co-management in marine protected areas / Portland Bight-Jamaica.

Posted By: Peter Espeut
Date: Thursday, 22 July 1999, at 3:40 p.m.

Key words: baseline surveys, enforcement, management plans.

INTRODUCTION

There may be "wise practices" which have universal applicability, but there is a specific political and policy context in Jamaica which creates both possibilities and challenges. In addition, the social and economic plight of the population define both the threats and the opportunities to which "wise practices" must relate. Therefore "wise practices" are fundamentally contextual.

WISE PRACTICE 1: MARINE PROTECTED AREAS

The best way to protect coastal resources is through coastal and marine protected areas. This allows a direct focus on a critical area over and above any focus on the nation as a whole. Management of protected areas means that resources are dedicated to provide special attention to the problems of each area, which might sustain the health of the resources. The Jamaican government in its White Paper on Parks and Protected Areas has outlined a plan to declare 25% of the country as National Parks (terrestrial), Marine Parks and Protected Areas (marine and terrestrial) by the year 2000. This is a wise decision of the government of Jamaica. In Jamaican law, the area is declared after a management plan is prepared, reviewed and approved, and then a set of regulations is promulgated. The fact that there is a reviewed plan means that the effort is comprehensive, rational and coherent.

WISE PRACTICE 2: DELEGATION OF MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITY TO NGOS

The Jamaican government has an environmental regulatory agency (the NRCA - the Natural Resources Conservation Authority) but does not have an agency dedicated to the management of parks and protected areas. Government policy calls for the delegation of management responsibility to suitable NGOs, and so far, management responsibility for two areas has been delegated to NGOs. The NRCA intends to delegate the management of the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA) to the Caribbean Coastal Area Management (CCAM) Foundation. This is another wise decision of the government of Jamaica. The best way to manage parks and protected areas is through non-governmental means. Let's face it, governments all over the world - but especially in Third World countries - have been trying to manage natural resources for decades, and have largely failed. Partisan political considerations, weak resolve and political will, corruption and inefficiency combined with a shortage of funds have meant that forests, fisheries, wetlands and wildlife have suffered overexploitation and degradation. Governments do not have a monopoly on corruption and the like, and NGOs and CBOs can be inefficient too; but I believe that it is a wise move to seek the management of natural resources through non-governmental means rather than set up a state apparatus - another bureaucracy - to do what is not inherently a bureaucratic function.

WISE PRACTICE 3: NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT IS A SOCIAL SCIENCE

Fisheries management is not the management of fish. Mangrove management is not the management of mangrove trees. Generally, natural resource management has more to do with managing the actions of human beings than with biological intervention. This departs from the standard approach of the last fifty years (which has not worked) that treats natural resource management as a biological science. Sure, biological data and analysis are essential for management, but they are not management itself, which is a social science.

WISE PRACTICE 4: RESOURCE USERS MUST BE ORGANIZED

If resources are being over-exploited or degraded by the resource users, then cultural change is required. Although it is individuals who must change their behaviour, often it is interaction with others which will drive the process. It is a wise practice to see that resource users are organised into groups, for collective action and to ensure that their collective wishes are addressed. It is also easier to work with an organisation than with dozens of atomistic individuals.

WISE PRACTICE 5: CO-MANAGEMENT - NATIONAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

It is a "wise practice" to adopt co-management as the operative philosophy for natural resource management. Natural resource co-management here is taken to mean joint management by delegates of all the stakeholders in the resources - including the government and the resource-users. For this to be more than a sweet-sounding platitudinous idea, it must be institutionalised so that it happens by design, not by virtue of the influence of a particular leader or visionary. The participation of representatives of all the stakeholders must be assured, for if even one group is not involved in the process, they may choose to defect from the management effort, leading to unsustainability of the use of the resources and of the process itself. The employment of co- management, then, is essentially the most wise of practices. The process examines the management options and selects the combination most likely to achieve the goals of the co-managers.

WISE PRACTICE 6: PREPARING REAL MANAGEMENT PLANS

Most management plans I have seen prepared by biologists are species inventories and descriptions of ecosystems, a suite of "do's and don'ts" codified into regulations, with the enforcement regime anticipated to be necessary to police them. Often it is suggested that "education" will lead to compliance with the regulations, which is naive. Most people who break environmental laws know they are doing so. A genuine management plan focuses on the strategies to be employed to guide and channel human activity to encourage compliance and reduce the need for enforcement. The good applied social scientist has at his disposal the skill and the cunning to make it happen.

WISE PRACTICE 7: EMPOWERMENT - GAME WARDENS AND FISHERIES INSPECTORS

It is Jamaican government policy and practice to appoint private citizens as Honorary Game Wardens to enforce the Wildlife Protection Act, and as Fisheries Inspectors to enforce the Fishing Industry Act. In the past these persons have tended to be drawn from the elite, mostly to police themselves (hunters and sports fishers). CCAM has been able to convince the Jamaican government to appoint fishers and fish vendors - men and women - to these posts to police themselves (and others). The empowerment of resource-users - especially those from the lower strata of society - to enforce the regulations they have drafted, is a "wise practice".

WISE PRACTICE 8: STAKEHOLDER COUNCILS - CO-MANAGEMENT INSTITUTIONS

In our experience in Portland Bight, an effective institution to put co-management into practice is the Resource Management Council. We have three in operation:

- The Portland Bight Fisheries Management Council (PBFMC),

- The Portland Bight Tourism Council (PBTC),

- The Portland Bight Citizens' Council (PBCC).

Three others are planned:

- The Portland Bight Enforcement Council (PBEC),

- The Portland Bight Industrial Council (PBIC),

- The Portland Bight Watershed Management Council (PBWMC).

The overall management of the Portland Bight Sustainable Development Area (PBSDA) will be overseen by the Portland Bight Sustainable Development Council (PBSDC). This Council will facilitate the highest level of integration in the various management efforts.

At these councils, the management plan for their specific resource is refined, management regulations are drafted and training is planned. Because the management measures bind the stakeholders, it is proper that they should draft them, and assist in their enforcement. In this way, those most affected can own the regulations, and are more likely to adhere to them and to encourage others to do so. Conflicts are brought to the Councils for resolution.

For the first five year management period, CCAM will hold the legal management responsibility. It is hoped that legal mechanisms can be quickly developed so that these Councils can legally have management responsibility during the second 5-year period.

WISE PRACTICE 9: BIOLOGICAL AND SOCIOECONOMIC BASELINE SURVEYS

It is a "wise practice" to conduct baseline surveys so as to know the state of the resources, both for planning and management, and to be able to compare with future resource inventories to measure progress with the resource management process. Both biological and socioeconomic surveys should be conducted.

WISE PRACTICE 10: ON-GOING MONITORING OF BIOLOGICAL AND SOCIOECONOMIC INDICATORS

In between baseline surveys, regular on-going monitoring of key biological and socioeconomic indicators should be undertaken. Often it is only after a baseline survey that a decision can be taken as to which indicators to monitor.

WISE PRACTICE 11: USE OF VIDEO PRODUCTIONS FOR PUBLIC ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION

Often in developing countries, those who exploit natural resources do not possess strong literacy skills. The use of audio-visual means of public environmental education is a wise practice.

WISE PRACTICE 12: FULL DOCUMENTATION OF PROCESS

Often, innovative natural resource management efforts contain lessons for others. In order that the lessons not be lost, it is wise to fully document all interventions and their results, both positive and negative.

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