Protecting the Waters of the Caribbean



As one of its many projects and programs, Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is supporting Caribbean livelihoods and the environment by working with stakeholders throughout the region to improve governance and deploy new management tools, most notably around ocean zoning. Our work is helping fish stocks recover and protecting important marine areas.

ELI attorneys Kathryn Mengerink and Read Porter have traveled to multiple Caribbean islands as part of the Blue Halo Initiative, a project focused on fisheries reform and development of new protected marine areas. Our work supports this process by identifying what legal changes are needed and how the process can be implemented under new or existing laws and regulations in each partner country.

The project started on Antigua and Barbuda, where reefs are in danger and locals consistently have to travel further from shore to find the lobster and conch they harvest for their livelihood. ELI participated in drafting new regulations for fisheries and marine protected areas, working with the national fisheries and environment divisions of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, and the Barbuda Council. The landmark regulations were passed in August 2014, helping to ensure the incomes of fishermen and propelling the twin-island nation to the forefront of Caribbean ocean conservation efforts. Now that the regulations are in place, ELI staff is supporting their implementation by training enforcement of officials and other stakeholders. Similar initiatives are now underway in Montserrat and Curaçao. Northeast of these islands, ELI is supporting a project to create a Marine Protected Area (MPA) for the waters of Bermuda, which are intensely used for scuba diving, transport, and a wide range of other activities. And this protected status would allow for the potential development of wind and wave energy and seabed mining.

Earlier this year, in partnership with the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, ELI finalized a comparison of Marine Protected Areas enforcement in eight Caribbean countries. With this research in hand, policymakers can make informed choices about consistent, effective enforcement systems that are appropriate for the Caribbean.

Visitors to the Caribbean may see beautiful beaches and blue water — but change is afoot beneath the surface. Environmental Law Institute (CFC# 10629) is proud to be a partner in improving management to reverse declines in fish stocks and ecosystem health, not only to safeguard important environmental resources for future generations, but also to ensure that the ocean can support livelihoods for local people now and in years to come.


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