Learning through experience: Non-implementation and the challenges of protected area conservation in The Bahamas
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are increasingly promoted as policy tools to counter such problems as declining fisheries, habitat destruction, and biodiversity loss. Many proposed MPAs become stalled in the implementation process, highlighting the need for further research into the processes leading to non-implementation. This paper focuses on two proposed MPAs in The Bahamas undergoing protected area enclosure: one highly controversial MPA in North Bimini that was proposed in 2000, but with an uncertain future; and a second enclosure in Andros Island initiated in 2002 and enlarged in 2009 after years of outreach and assessment. Although both locations seek to protect an area of shallow seas within The Bahamas archipelago, each area is significantly different in its management goals as well as social and institutional frameworks. A comparison of the two MPAs underscores the challenges in implementing changes in marine governance while illustrating opportunities for adaptive social learning in resource management processes. There are three goals to this analysis: (1) to explore the processes leading to non-implementation of proposed MPAs; (2) to identify some conditions for success and failure of MPAs within The Bahamian context; and (3) to search for evidence of individual and institutional learning in how conservation agents have approached the later Andros MPA. Research suggests that while there may be ample opportunity to learn from failed conservation attempts, individual and institutional constraints inhibit successful conservation planning frequently leading to non-implementation.
Area of Interest: Bahamas