Integrating Factors for Success in Caribbean Marine Protected Areas

  • Is your Marine Protected Area (MPA) successful? If so, how will you continue to improve it?
  • Is it struggling to achieve the goals that you set? And how will you adapt?
  • Is this because of biological conditions or the community involvement or complex political decisions?
  • What is the likely success of doing what others have done in their MPA? Will it work only under certain conditions?

Limitations of Existing Ideas

No single factor addresses these questions. MPAs are common marine management tools used within a complex social, political and ecological context. So why have most studies of factors for success of MPAs not looked across all three fields of study? By gathering such broad-based data, this research will be able to show in scientific terms that there is much more to an MPA than simply coral coverage, fish counts and participation. Decision-makers will know that carrying out procedures “A” and “B” will increase their probability of success by “X” percent.

Comprehensive and Interdisciplinary Field Research
This research project identifies biological, social and political factors leading to the success of MPAs, specifically coral reef no-take reserves in the wider-Caribbean region. Field research is being conducted at 30 no-take coral reef reserves over three years (2006-2008). Results from similar work was conducted in Southeast Asia (see publication on CRC website- Pollnac, 2000).

Project Timeline

  • Field Research 2006-2008
  • Regional Workshops 2009-2010
  • What will communities and MPA managers gain?
  • Involvement — During our research we will rely heavily on the wisdom and perspectives of local citizens. We will spend time interviewing people to hear their views on the marine reserve. We are also available to answer any questions y about the project or about MPAs in general.
  • Information — During the study we will provide each MPA manager and community with information related to our work. When the analysis is complete, participants will see how their MPA is performing, what factors lead to successful MPAs, how successful MPAs manage and govern their resources, what alternative-income options they have created for themselves, what laws might have passed or be needed and more.
  • Connectedness — By participating in this study, an MPA will gain access to researchers and other managers through a broader network of 30 MPAs being studied.
  • Project Partners — A key component of the project is to involve local professionals and community members in the data gathering and outreach. This project is being lead by the University of Rhode Island’s Departments of Marine Affairs, Natural Resources Science department and the CRC. The team is interdisciplinary, and is composed of ecologists, marine policy analysts, anthropologists and coastal management practitioners. The U.S. National Science Foundation provides the funding.

For more information about this research please contact:

Tracey (Morin) Dalton
Assistant Professor / Profesor
Dept. Marine Affairs / Dept. de Assuntos Marinos
University of Rhode Island / Universidad de Rhode Island
+1 (401) 874-2434 and