Involving the Community in Decision Making in Folkestone Marine Reserve, Barbados


The Folkestone Park and Marine Reserve (FPMR) is 2.2 kilometers long and is located on the west coast of Barbados. It is a no-take reserve composed of four zones: two water sports zones, a recreational zone, and a scientific research zone.

When the FPMR was first established in 1981, many of the major stakeholders were not consulted. Fishermen in particular had no input, and their issues were not taken into consideration. This neglect generated a lack of compliance with the no-take regulations.

The study was conducted to revise the zoning and management system within the marine reserve. Stakeholder representatives were involved in a series of meetings and roundtable discussions.


The full text for this case study is available here through the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI).

Methods, Tools, and Data

Focus Groups

Stakeholders were identified through discussions with local managers and a literature review of the area's other marine parks. Local newspapers, flyers, and meetings promoted the discussions and encouraged participation. Once identified, the stakeholders were brought together to discuss their perspectives, as well as determine the best options for management of the marine reserve. These sessions took place in the form of public and roundtable meetings.

Case Study Research

Initial research revealed that many of the problems the reserve was having were a result of the initial lack of communication between fishermen and the decision makers. The lessons learned from this case study helped the researchers organize a review process that might ultimately lead to a higher level of stakeholder involvement and compliance.

Related Methods

Case study research is used to conduct an in-depth investigation of an issue at a specific instance and location.
Focus groups involve a structured process in which a number of participants, typically 8 to 12, are asked their opinion on predetermined questions.

Discussion of Results

  • At least 20 stakeholder groups were identified through the process.
  • Two public meetings and seven roundtable meetings were held to discuss the future of the marine park.
  • Roundtable meetings were found to be more effective than public meetings.
  • The reserve developed a report to capture these discussions. The final report is currently under review by the government of Barbados.

Lessons Learned

  • The participatory process is a long and work-intensive process. It can also be expensive, so compromises need to be made.
  • All stakeholder concerns should be aired even if they seem irrelevant. This helps gain the confidence of the stakeholders.
  • Non-organized groups (e.g., jet skiers) are hard to engage. It is often difficult to find acceptable representatives.
  • Some stakeholders will not always be represented, and this must be accepted as a fact.
  • The stakeholders who will be the most active are those who have something to gain, such as fishermen. Groups that have nothing to gain or much to lose are often not willing to make the time investment.
  • Participants need to be aware of the technical constraints on marine protected area design and operation in their area.

Related Partners

NOAA is a federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere. It plays several distinct roles within the Department of Commerce.


Books and Publications

  • Cumberbatch, J. 2001. Case Study of the Folkestone Park and Marine Reserve, Barbados. Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) Technical Report. Number 281.

  • Mahon, R., and M. B. Mascia. 2003. "The Barbados (alias Folkestone) Marine Reserve, Barbados: A Late Bloomer?" Gulf and Caribbean Research. Volume 14. Number 2. Pages 171 to 180.