The Soufriere Marine Management Association Inc. (SMMA Inc.) held a workshop for stakeholders on Water-Based Tourism at the Department of Fisheries in Castries on Monday 26th March 2012. The workshop was made possible with support from the Caribbean Marine Protected Area Management (Network & Forum) Training of Trainers course for managers of protected areas. The aim of the workshop was to educate resource users on threats to marine resources, livelihood strategies in St. Lucia, identify conflicts and initiate discussion on potential collaborative solutions to ensure sustainable use of the coastal marine resources in the Soufriere Marine Management Area (SMMA) and the Canaries & Anse La Raye Marine Management Area (CAMMA).
Participants were introduced to or in most cases re-sensitized on the existing rules and regulations that apply in the two marine management areas. Representatives from the Saint Lucia Air & Sea Ports Authority and the Department of Fisheries educated participants on their requisite licensing programmes and the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards delivered a presentation on the work of the bureau specifically the approved national Standard for Water-Based Tourism. A consultant shared the findings from a recently concluded situation assessment on marine tourism in SMMA & CAMMA. Participants were engaged in sharing their vision for the development of this area and worked on finding solutions to address issues that were identified.
“The SMMA has a unique and timely opportunity”, says Rich Wilson of Seatone Consulting, “to convene a new stakeholder engagement focused on best marine tourism practices. The challenge is to facilitate a collaborative process that incorporates stakeholder interests and produces mutually agreeable solutions for all parties. SMMA’s past leadership in this arena is critical, and yet the industry must also get involved if such an ambitious effort is to be successful.”
The workshop was a success with participants recognizing the diverse backgrounds of stakeholders in the marine tourism sector in St. Lucia and the need for strengthening collaboration between key agencies. The final report will be available on the SMMA Inc. website (www.smma.org.lc). One solution suggested was developing a Best Practices Manual for marine tourism operators as a guide to implement the National Standard For Water-Based Tourism. All companies involved in water-based tourism are encouraged to obtain a copy of the national standard from the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards.
Funding for this workshop was provided by the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with support from the United Nations Environment Programme (Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP), the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife), Regional Activity Centre (SPAW-RAC) and the Caribbean Marine Protected Area Management (CaMPAM). The SMMA Inc. would like to recognize and commend The Discovery at Marigot Bay, the Department of Fisheries and all stakeholders who participated in the assessment.