Doctoral Reserach

Doctoral Research
Scaling up Marine Protected Areas in the Caribbean: Addressing Fit in the Face of Environmental Change

Coastal-marine systems in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean are highly vulnerable to both current and future environmental change, including climate change. In response to the vulnerability of coastal communities and the health of coastal-marine ecosystems, various governance strategies have been proposed, including Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). However, MPAs and MPA networks warrant further research due to: a) their widespread application and support among conservationists, coastal managers and governments; b) the lack of consideration concerning their social dimensions; and c) the complexity and uncertainty associated with environmental change. Therefore, in light of these considerations, the following overarching question guides this research: Can MPAs and MPA networks serve as effective governance strategies for coping with environmental change in coastal-marine systems?

Through a case study of Special Fishery Conservation Areas (SFCAs) in Jamaica, this research will employ a sequential mixed methods approach to critically examine marine protected areas with regards to their potential for addressing mismatches with the social-ecological realities of coastal-marine resource systems (i.e. fit) and relevant collective action problems.

Research findings will have direct implications for climate change adaptation policy and practice for coastal communities and national governments, particularly for the design and implementation of future MPAs and MPA networks as Jamaica and fellow signatories strive to meet the Caribbean Challenge of protecting approximately 20% of near-shore marine environments by 2020.

This research is supported by an IDRC Doctoral Research Award and by the Canadian Research Councils (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR) and IDRC through the Partnership for Canada-Caribbean Community Climate Change AdaptationInternational Research Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change (IRIACC) project.