An analysis of marine reserve co-management within the Caribbean: Factors influencing stakeholder participation

Sarah Lindley Smith, University of Rhode Island


The goal of the research is to critically analyze co-management as a tool for sustainable marine resource management through improved understanding of stakeholder participation in co-management. This critique is based on the underlying hypothesis that co-management will lead to greater representation and participation of stakeholders in management and that successful co-management is that which encompasses a wide range of stakeholder perspectives in the decision-making process. This study investigates variability in the involvement of stakeholders in selected examples of existing co-management arrangements developed to manage marine reserves within the wider Caribbean. An understanding of the factors contributing to and dynamics of stakeholder participation is essential for promoting effective resource co-management. As a way of understanding the success of governance arrangements in reserve management, a comparative analysis of several sites has been conducted to ascertain some of the factors influencing the extent of stakeholder participation in co-management arrangements, including the importance of social networks in fostering knowledge of and participation in management. A secondary objective of this dissertation is to use network analysis to determine what impact the underlying social network has on the co-management arrangement, and on stakeholder participation in co-management. This dissertation seeks to answer the following questions: (1) How do social networks affect participation?; (2) What is the relationship between successful co-management and social networks?; (3) What does successful co-management look like? Additionally, management recommendations are provided to improve co-management processes at each of the MPAs included in this study. This research includes six marine protected areas from around the Caribbean with some form of co-management in place selected as case studies. Residents of the communities adjacent to the marine protected areas were surveyed about their participation in management activities and about their knowledge of individuals responsible for making decisions about the marine protected area. Responses were analyzed to uncover factors that may influence participation by community members, and a social network analysis was conducted for each of the study sites based on the names provided by respondents. The effect of social network characteristics on participation is discussed, and the qualities of successful co-management are enumerated.

Subject Area

Environmental Studies|Natural Resource Management

Recommended Citation

Sarah Lindley Smith, "An analysis of marine reserve co-management within the Caribbean: Factors influencing stakeholder participation" (2011). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3450926.