In 1997 and early 1998, the SMMA went through a period of relative instability, as some provisions of the original agreement were being questioned, and as conflicting needs and demands were being expressed by the parties involved.
To a large extent, these problems confirmed that the institutional arrangements which were originally put in place were not fully adequate, and that there was need for a systematic review, in order to identify options and solutions. In response the TAC asked CANARI to facilitate an institutional review.
Analysis of Issues and Problems
The review concluded that the following issues have contributed to the problems that the SMMA is currently facing:
- Neither the original “Agreement” nor the management plan prepared in 1994 indicated the purpose and goals of the SMMA, and it appears that there has never been any clear consensus on the matter. This lack of common understanding and vision is likely to have contributed substantially to the disagreements and misunderstandings that have occurred among the different stakeholders.
- The Fisheries Act and Cabinet conclusions do not provide an adequate legislative basis for management and regulation
- The Agreement was meant to address conflicts through the zoning of uses. However, the Agreement is not a formal contract and therefore not binding upon the parties involved. Furthermore, the lack of established structures for its review and revisions have invited ad hoc proposals and adjustments. Because of the deficiencies in the policy framework, the stakeholder groups have increasingly turned to the political directorate for assistance in resolving conflicts
- The management plan of the SMMA, although approved in principle by Cabinet in November 1995, was never regularly used as a management tool, and not all members of the TAC were fully familiar with its contents.
- The TAC has evolved over time into a body that is too large to function effectively in the role it was originally given. It has also proven to be an ineffective forum to equitable stakeholder representation, as indicated by the many negotiations that have taken place among various parties outside of it.
- The internal changes of the Soufriere Foundation have upset the balance between government and the community in the management of the SMMA, and there is some uncertainty about roles of both the Department of Fisheries and the Soufriere Foundation.
- The SMMA has affected a number of user groups, both negatively and positively, to differing extents, but there is no process to weigh and balance these against environmental impacts in order to make creative management decisions.
During the review process, the stakeholders developed a consensus on how the SMMA should be structured and should operate
- It should be guided by a clear mission that includes management of marine and coastal resources in the Soufriere area for sustainable use equitable distribution of benefits, participation of stakeholders, and ongoing management of conflicts.
- Its legal base should be clear and strong, and should cover all its management functions.
- Its management structure should be transparent and politically, institutionally, and financially autonomous.
- Management objectives and programmes should be oriented towards development and promotion.
- Government agencies should retain their statutory authority and responsibilities when operating within or providing support to the SMMA.
- There should be active collaboration with relevant institutions and provisions for ongoing stakeholder consultation in decision making.
- Day to day management and enforcement should be locally based.
The SMMA has therefore adopted a new mission statement as follows:
The mission of the Soufriere Marine Management Area is to contribute to national and local development, particularly in the fisheries and tourism sectors through management of the Soufriere coastal zone based on the principles of sustainable use, cooperation among resource users, institutional collaboration, active and enlightened participation, and equitable sharing of benefits and responsibilities among stakeholders.
Legal Basis and New Institutional Arrangements
As a result of this review, new arrangements were put in place, with the following features:
- the Soufriere Marine Management Area remains the portion of coast between Anse l’Ivrogne in the south and Anse Mamin in the north, from the shore to a depth of seventy-five meters;
- this area was established as a Local Fisheries Management Area under the provisions of the Fisheries Act;
- the management of the area is governed by a new agreement, which was negotiated among the members of the TAC, and which defines the vision, mission, objectives, regulations, zoning, programmes and institutional arrangements of the SMMA;
- current zoning and regulations will be maintained, and a detailed map identifying all zones forms part of the proposed new agreement;
- the coordination of management is the responsibility of a new organisation, called the Soufriere Marine Management Association Inc., a not-for-profit company created under the Companies Act. This Association will be comprised of all the agencies which have a demonstrated management function in the Area.
- Its members will therefore be, initially, five community and non-governmental organisations (the St. Lucia Dive Association, the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association, the Soufriere Fishermen’s Cooperative Society Ltd., the Soufriere Regional Development Foundation and the Soufriere Water Taxi Association), five government agencies (the Ministries of Planning, Fisheries and Tourism, the National Conservation Commission, and the Saint Lucia Air & Sea Ports Authority), and one or two individuals nominated by the District Representative and the Cabinet of Ministers. It was made a Local Fisheries Management Authority under the provisions of the Fisheries Act.One important provision of the new arrangement will be the establishment of Stakeholder Committee, a broad-based advisory body which will provide a forum for all stakeholders to express their needs, views and concerns. This Committee will meet at least once per quarter, and will be an essential component of the new SMMA, as it will be the place where the views of all parties will be heard.
Unclear and inefficient structures for the enforcement of regulations within the SMMA are an important concern to users of the Area and institutions involved in management. There is general agreement that local response to incidents must be improved. The problem stems from the current manpower and equipment constraints of the Marine Police and the Soufriere police. There is a lack of consensus over the role that the wardens can and should play in enforcement: one view is that their role should largely be preventive, while others see the need for the rangers to have greater enforcement authority, including the powers of arrest.
More detailed discussions will soon be held on this issue between the major parties involved (Attorney General’s Chambers, Marine Police, Soufriere Police, SMMA, Water Taxi Association, Department of Fisheries) to determine a structure for law enforcement that addresses the current problems, specifies respective roles and authorities, and identifies additional resources that may be required.