Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 265–271 | Cite as

Redrawing the boundaries: planning and governance of a marine protected area—the case of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park



Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) shield ocean environments from hazardous human activities, including the extraction of marine resources and excessive urban development. Delimitation, zoning and governance structures are some of the environmental management tools that are provided by MPAs. These management tools may be contentious when human settlements exist within an MPAs’ boundaries, since zoning affects existing human activities and potential developments, and managing structures overlap traditional governance arrangements. Varying perspectives emerge when each stakeholder is taken into consideration separately. Ideally all stakeholders with genuine interests in MPAs should take part in the delimitation, zoning and governance of these areas. However, governance is about reaching agreements amidst differences and is not just a matter of considering differences as singularities. In order to understand how multiple stakeholders would reach a shared environmental governance of an MPA, we took the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP) in The Bahamas as a case study. The ECLSP, created in 1958, is co-managed by the Government of The Bahamas and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), and contains within its boundaries uninhabited islands, islands occupied by local communities, and private islands mainly owned by foreigners or held in Bahamian trusts. In this study, we conducted an exercise with different stakeholders who were challenged to work together in redrawing the park’s boundaries, zoning and governance structures. Their individual opinions mattered less than the discussion and outcomes of their joint work. We conclude that a shared environmental governance structure does not eliminate all the frictions among stakeholders, but rather it makes them all aware of the natural and social complexities involved in managing MPAs, which improves stewardship and enhances the ECLSP’s legitimacy among stakeholders.


Marine national parks Governance Participatory process Bahamas 


  1. Arkema KK, Abramson SC, Dewsbury BM (2006) Marine ecosystem-based management: from characterization to implementation. Front Ecol Environ 4(10):525–532. doi: 10.1890/1540-9295(2006)4[525:MEMFCT]2.0.CO;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bahamas (1959) The Bahamas National Trust Act. Statute Law of The Bahamas, Chapter 391Google Scholar
  3. Bahamas (2010) Key statistics: Exuma and Cays Population Census 2010. Department of Statistics of The BahamasGoogle Scholar
  4. Botsford L, Micheli F, Hastings A (2003) Principles for the design of marine reserves. Ecol Appl 13(1):S25–S31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Broad K, Sanchirico J (2008) Local perspectives on marine reserve creation in the Bahamas. Ocean Coast Manag 51(11):763–771CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buchan K (2000) The Bahamas. Mar Pollut Bull 41(1–6):94–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chiappone M, Sealey KMS (2000) Marine reserve design criteria and measures of success: lessons learned from the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Bahamas Bull Marine Sci 66(3):691–705Google Scholar
  8. Christie P, White AT (2007) Best practices in governance and enforcement of marine protected areas: an overview. In: FAO. Expert workshop on Marine Protected Areas and fisheries management: review of issues and considerations. FAO Fisheries Report no. 825. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.Google Scholar
  9. Claudet J (ed) (2011) Marine protected areas: a multidisciplinary approach. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  10. Dixon J, Scura L, van’t Hof T (1995) Ecology and Microeconomics as ‘joint products’: The Bonaire Marine Park in the Caribbean. In: Perrings CA, Maler KG, Folke C, Hollings CS, Jansson BO. Biodiversity Conservation: Ecology, Economy & Environment, 4: 127-145Google Scholar
  11. Gleason M, McCreary S, Miller-Henson M, Ugoretz J, Fox E, Merrifield M, McClintock W, Serpa P, Hoffman K (2010) Science-based and stakeholder-driven marine protected area network planning: a successful case study from north central California. Ocean Coast Manag 53(2):52–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Indab JD, Suarez-Aspilla PB (2004) Community-based marine protected areas in the Bohol (Mindanao) Sea, Philippines. NAGA, WorldFish Center Quart 27(1/2):4–8Google Scholar
  13. James A (1999) Institutional constraints to protected area funding. Parks, Int J Protect Area Manag 9(2):15–26Google Scholar
  14. Jentoft S, van Son Thijs C, Bjørkan M (2007) Marine protected areas: a governance system analysis. Hum Ecol 35(5):611–622CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Latour B (2007) A plea for earthly sciences. keynote address at the British Sociological Association, East London. Available at:
  16. Mumby PJ, Dahlgren CP, Harborne AR, Kappel CV, Micheli F, Brumbaugh DR, Holmes KE, Mendes JM, Broad K, Sanchirico JN, Buch K, Box S, Stoffle RW, Gill AB (2006) Fishing, trophic cascades, and the process of grazing on coral reefs. Science 311(5757):98–101. doi: 10.1126/science.1121129 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mumby PJ, Harborne AR, Brumbaugh DR (2011) Grouper as a natural biocontrol of invasive lionfish. PLoS One 6(6):e21510. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021510 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ogden J (1997) Marine managers look upstream for connections. Science 278(5342):1414–1415. doi: 10.1126/science.278.5342.1414 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Osmond M, Airame S, Caldwell M, Day J (2010) Lessons for marine conservation planning: a comparison of three marine protected area planning processes. Ocean Coast Manag 53(2):41–51. doi: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2010.01.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Roberts CM, Bohnsack JA, Gell F, Hawkins JP, Goodridge R (2001) Effects of marine reserves on adjacent fisheries. Science 294(5548):1920–1923. doi: 10.1126/science.294.5548.1920 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Stoffle RW, Minnis J, Murphy A, Van Vlack K, O’Meara N, Smith T, McDonald T (2010) Two-MPA model for siting a marine protected area: Bahamian case. Coast Manag 38(5):501–518. doi: 10.1080/08920753.2010.507460 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Stoner A, Davis M, Booker C (2012) Abundance and population structure of queen conch inside and outside a marine protected area: repeat surveys show significant declines. Marine Ecol - Progress Ser 460:101–114. doi: 10.3354/meps09799 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Thorpe A, Bavinck M, Coulthard S (2011) Tracking the debate around marine protected areas: key issues and the BEG framework. Environ Manag 47(4):546–563. doi: 10.1007/s00267-011-9632-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Vincent ACJ, Harris JM (2014) Boundless no more. Science 346(6208):420–421. doi: 10.1126/science.1255923 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Voyer MV, Gladstone W, Goodall H (2011) Methods of social assessment in marine protected area planning: is public participation enough? Mar Policy 36(2):432–439. doi: 10.1016/j.marpol.2011.08.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. West P, Igoe J, Brockington D (2006) Parks and peoples: the social impact of protected areas. Annu Rev Anthropol 35:251–277. doi: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.35.081705.123308 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Yorio P (2009) Marine protected areas, spatial scales, and governance: implications for the conservation of breeding seabirds. Conserv Lett 2(4):171–178. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2009.00062.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pontificia Universidade Catolica do ParanaCuritibaBrazil
  2. 2.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Harvard University Graduate School of DesignCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations