Reef stewardship programs

The responsibility for environmental quality and condition shared by all those whose actions affect the environment.

Suggested here that Paul quickly prepare a paragraph based on his understanding of what the facets of a reef stewardship program are (or could be).  

Nearly all of the available resources on reef stewardship programs come from ongoing programs run by tourism operators and managers of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  There are no documented examples of formal reef stewardship programs in the Caribbean. The resources available from Australia though are likely to be useful to managers in the Caribbean interested in establishing reef stewardship programs.  Stewardship programs can be a vehicle for the sorts of participatory processes recommended within the resources presented in the community-based adaptation planning theme.


  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's (GBRMPA) Reef Guardian program recognizes the good environmental work undertaken by communities and industries to protect the Great Barrier Reef: The program began with schools in 2003 to encourage the community to take action towards creating a healthier reef system. The program has grown and diversified to include local councils, fishers and farmers. This is an excellent program engaging stakeholders and school children in supporting reef resilience that can be replicated in any geographical location. The information at the link above will be of particular interest to Caribbean reef managers that want to establish reef stewardship programs as a way of engaging with stakeholders and community members.
  • Through the Australia Caribbean Coral Reef Collaboration, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is working with the Government of Grenada to develop a reef stewardship program framework, planning tools and resources: The project draws on experience from the successful Reef Guardians program in the Great Barrier Reef to tailor a program of activities to assist coral reef managers in Grenada build support for and participation in coral reef management. Other Caribbean nations could implement similar programs and the results of the Collaboration’s efforts in this area will become available at the link during the coming year.
  • The Reef Stewardship Foundation aims to foster a diverse stewardship community that protects coral reefs through collaborative action, research, education and aquaculture initiatives: Activities undertaken under the themes of conservation, education and research could be replicated throughout the Caribbean, so would be of interest to Caribbean reef managers.
  • Private environmental stewardship campaigns are undertaken on the Great Barrier Reef by Quicksilver: and Mike Ball Dive Expeditions: These live-aboard dive operations commit to environmentally sustainable tourism and embrace best environmental practices. It is important for tourism operators to conserve the reef for their continued livelihoods. Caribbean tourism operators can also engage in best practices and there are many lessons to be learned from these Australian dive operators.
  • The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL): engages stakeholders from 3 groups; MPA managers, marine tourism operators, and local residents.  The aim in linking these groups is to build partnerships that establish lasting changes and promote coral reef health around the world. CORAL promotes conservation through its Coral Reef Sustainable Destination (CRSD) approach. The goal of the CRSD model is to increase the capacity of marine recreation providers, reef resource managers, and local community members to work collaboratively toward conservation. Ultimately, community members at each destination gain the fundamental skills and abilities to implement effective and financially sustainable coral conservation strategies. CORAL already engages with many Caribbean reef managers, but there could be additional knowledge exchange and much of CORAL’s work involves increasing reef stewardship through manager-stakeholder exchanges.

Key publications

Community-based development of multiple-use marine protected areas: Promoting stewardship and sharing responsibility for conservation in the San Andres Archipelago, Colombia (2002) Howard M, Connolly E, Taylor E and Mow JM. Gulf and Caribbean Research, Vol. 14(2): 155–162.

Dive-tourism and private stewardship of small-scale coral reef marine protected areas (1999) Colwell S. In: Dight I, Kenchington R and Baldwin J (Eds). Proceedings: International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium (ITMEMS) November 1998, Townsville, Australia, pp. 217-221.