Compliance and enforcement

Effective management and conservation requires that marine resource users comply with regulations and that there is enforcement where voluntary compliance fails.

There are many resources available online that outline very specific compliance and enforcement activities from scattered locations.  However, there is limited information on the actual theory or practice of compliance and enforcement in the marine environment in the Caribbean. Effective compliance and enforcement depends on the social context, and lessons learnt from some of the initiatives in Hawaii, the south Pacific and Great Barrier Reef may provide some helpful insights.


  • Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Management Network and Forum (CaMPAM) enforcement training workshop report (2011): provides an overview of the training content tailored to Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the workshop outcomes. This is a very brief report and the training content described within would have the most utility for managers in the Caribbean.
  • Presentations from the 2012 Hawaii Conservation Conference can be viewed at: The video runs for 2 hours and focuses on a number of different management themes including Compliance and Enforcement. Parts of this will be interesting viewing for Caribbean reef managers.
  • Enforcement planning resources, training reports and presentations can be downloaded from the Pacific Islands Managed and Protected Area Community (PIMPAC) website: Enforcement is a new area that PIMPAC has recently invested in and these materials support an Enforcement and Compliance Workshop held in Palau in 2011. There are step-by-step guides to establishing an enforcement program and standard operating procedures that could be related to the Caribbean. This resource would be of particular interest to managers who are looking to establish a new enforcement program.
  • The compliance management program for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area includes the use of a wide range of compliance and enforcement tools including on-ground compliance and surveillance, and a broader education program: This site gives details of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s cooperative compliance management and surveillance program and describes other aspects of compliance management like zoning and aircraft and vessel surveillance patrols. It would be useful for Caribbean managers to read about compliance and enforcement approaches in the largest barrier reef in the world.
  • The Western Indian Ocean has a theme sheet on compliance and enforcement as part of their marine protected area toolkit: This details the need for patrolling and surveillance, the role of MPA managers, the equipment required and provides a Case Study from Moheli Marine Park, Comoros. This is a brief 2-page report that provides ideas on how to implement approaches to enforcement like patrolling and surveillance.
  • The Faculty of Law at University of Wollongong has a paper entitled “Optimizing voluntary compliance in marine protected areas: A comparison of recreational fisher and enforcement officer perspectives using multi-criteria analysis” (Read et al. 2011):  A list of planning criteria for optimizing compliance in Marine Protected Areas is used to compare the views of recreational fishers and compliance officers for facilitating voluntary compliance in the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park (PSGLMP), Australia. This is a scientific article but is listed as a resource because the paper demonstrates that recreational fisher engagement in MPA planning processes can maximize voluntary compliance and manageability. The study outcomes are highly relevant to Caribbean coral reef managers.
  • The United Kingdom’s Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has a Compliance and Enforcement Strategy: This 7-page document has been prepared by the MMO, a Non-Departmental Public Body of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The report details MMO's overall approach to achieving compliance and provides information about the general principles the MMO follows. This report is is UK-specific and includes a lot of detail on legislation for the UK, but has some useful insights for Caribbean managers.

Key Publications

Implementing environmental regulation: compliance and enforcement (2000) Heyes A. Journal of Regulatory Economics, 17:2, 107-129.