First-ever protected area management effectiveness assessment conducted for the Barbados Marine Reserve

28 October 2020

The Barbados Marine Reserve (BMR) is a 2.2 km² protected area occupying one of the most impacted and intensely used stretches along the west coast of Barbados.

Barbados Marine Reserve

It was designated in 1981 to maintain coastal and marine ecosystems in their natural state, provide an area where marine species could breed undisturbed, offer recreational areas for residents and tourists and provide a protected area where scientist and students could engage in research.

The Reserve consists of four zones:

  • Scientific Zone Designated for marine research: No motor power craft access unless permitted for research or enforcement, and then speeds are limited to 5 knots.
  • Northern and Southern Designated Water Sports Zones for fast speed watercraft use: All motorised watercraft must operate at speeds less than 5 knots/no wake within 75m from shore, and speed boats can operate at higher speeds within 75 – 200m from shore. Jet skis must maintain speeds of less than 5 knots within 200m of shore and can operate at higher speeds beyond 200m from shore.
  • Recreational Zone Designated for recreation, including swimming, snorkelling and fishing: There are no restrictions on watercraft entry, however, speed restrictions apply.

The workshops, the first of its kind in Barbados, were intended to comprehensively review the operations, challenges and issues of the Barbados Marine Reserve (BMR) and to assess the current state of management at the BMR. Ultimately, the outputs of these activities are to improve the management of the reserve to provide a well-managed marine protected area with services for both locals and tourists alike to enjoy.

Participants ranging from key government ministries, stakeholders of the Barbados Marine Reserve, educational institutions, and non-governmental organisations actively participated in the assessment of the management of the reserve.

The process was led by the NCC, with the assessment itself being facilitated by the Caribbean Protected Areas Gateway, the regional resource hub for biodiversity and protected area data, information, tools and services, which is hosted by the UWI, through the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme.

The effective management of the BMR is crucial to ensure that established purposes are met and ultimately that ecological, cultural, historical and economic values are preserved and sustained. Currently, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy (MMABE) manages the BMR, however, this was previous undertaken by the National Conservation Commission (NCC) through the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification (MENB) from 1981-2020.

The protected area management effectiveness assessment workshops are extremely valuable as they aid in the identification of the extent to which it is protecting values and achieving its goals and objectives. This helps to detect crucial areas where attention is needed and allows for limited human and financial resources to be directed to key areas.

The results and recommendations of the assessment will be utilised by the management agency to identify next steps and the way forward regarding improving management of the BMR.

The Caribbean Protected Areas Gateway continues to work in close collaboration with the management agency of the BMR and other related biodiversity and environmental related organisations. This is being done to improve the long-term conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in Barbados.

As concerns the protected and conserved areas of Barbados, national engagement activities continue later in 2020.

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