Having signed the co-management agreement in 2018, the co-management bodies and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in the Dominican Republic are now in the final stages of planning. The development of the Management and Marine Spatial Plan, as well as the implementation of priority environmental activities for the Sanctuary Arrecifes del Sureste, are in process. The Sanctuary is one of the largest marine protected areas in the Caribbean, covering an area of 8,000 km2.
The plans, which will be based on extensive consultations with local stakeholders, reviewed by the Scientific Committee, and approved by the Government, will regulate the use and guide the environmental and social objectives of the Sanctuary for the next 5 years.
The development of the management and zoning plans for the Sanctuary, which will encompass all coastal and pelagic areas including buffer zones, will be through collaboration with the primary marine stakeholders, government officials, local communities, and NGOs via a series of consultations and workshops, which will take place over a period of 12 months.
The plans will follow the official guidelines of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, covering socio-economic, ecological and regulatory elements. They will describe the rules and policies that will guide the Sanctuary as well as components of the operational plan, while the participatory approach will ensure that stakeholders play a role in the development and management of the area. Outputs will include information on threats and impacts, zonation maps, high-resolution maps of benthic ecosystems, and descriptions of Ecosystem Services within the Sanctuary, as well as providing guidance on the Sanctuary´s Workplan.
Zonation of the Sanctuary will be a trade-off between environmental and social interests and is expected to include areas ranging from reserves (no-take zones) to recreational zones (variety of activities) while improving the health of ecosystems and sustainability of resources as the cross cutting factors.