Opportunities and Constraints of Co-Management: Cases of the Buccoo Reef Marine Park and the Speyside Reefs Marine Park, Tobago
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In order to understand co-management, the concept must be examined from both the community and government perspectives since its essence is embedded in a framework of co-operation between these two entities. While a commitment for co-operation is an integral component of co-management, it alone will not sustain it. Trust, openness, communication, a belief in the cause, as well as personal and group gain are all critical components of this management approach. The Buccoo Reef Action Group (BRAG) was formed in the middle of 1999. The Group emerged out of a joint research project among the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), the University of East Anglia, and the University of the West Indies. As a type of community-based organisation, BRAG sought to develop and implement projects related to the conservation and preservation of the Buccoo Reef Marine Park (BRMP), southwest Tobago, in a collaborative effort with the Department of Marine Resources and Fisheries, THA. Unfortunately, after the joint project ended, so did BRAG. This study examines the opportunities and constraints that a more participatory approach to management of the BRMP presented as well as explores why the potential for co-management was not realised. Moreover, with plans being created to establish a second marine protected area, the Speyside Reefs Marine Park (SRMP), along the northeast coast of the island, there is once again an opportunity for co-management - either informally or formally. The lessons learned from efforts aimed at increasing stakeholder involvement with regards to the BRMP could be influential in helping to ensure successful implementation and management of the SRMP. It is clear that management and conservation of marine natural resources and areas requires an integration and appreciation for both the arts and the sciences. A multidisciplinary approach that considers the cultural, social, economic, political, and ecological context of each situation is required thereby making the application of general frameworks difficult, but not impossible, so long as those frameworks remain flexible and those contexts are accounted for.