Dominican Republic: Designing, financing and implementing the effective management for one of the largest MPAs in the Caribbean

Blue finance Dominican Republic Project

The MPA “Arrecifes del Sureste” in the Dominican Republic is almost 8000km2, covering just around 100 km coast and encompassing vibrant coral reef ecosystems, several major urban centers and 2 of the country’s primary tourism centers (receiving >4M visitors annually).

The MPA was designated in 2009 and has been mostly inactive since, essentially a “paper park”.

Partnering with the Government and local NGOs, Blue finance designed a 10-year agreement to co-manage the MPA. The agreement was signed in 2019 with a non-profit company comprised of local conservation NGOs, local foundations of the major tourism holdings in the country and other associations.

Agreement signing with the Minister of Environment.

Blue finance secured major debt financing for the MPA from impact investors blended with philanthropic grants.

Capital is now being used to hire staff and purchase the required equipment. The development of the Marine Spatial Plan is also in process (more details).

Blue finance provides long term technical support to the company in order to improve both environmental management and entrepreneurial skills.

The MPA co-management company is guided by a stakeholder committee, of public and private citizens. Environmental, social and financial key performance indicators will be regularly audited.

Marine Sanctuary “Arrecifes del Sureste”, Dominican Republic

The MPA is now implementing the following activities:

    • Supporting the development of the Management and Marine Spatial Plan that regulates the use and guides the environmental and social objectives of the Sanctuary for the next 5 years. The plan is based on extensive consultations with local stakeholders, reviewed by the Scientific Committee, and approved by the Government (more details).  
    • Improvement & Monitoring the health of marine habitats (e.g. sustainable fishing and tourism, water quality improvements, strengthening reef resilience);
    • Compliance & Enforcement (e.g. development of enforcement management plans, effective patrolling, pro-active surveillance by communities, informed rangers);
    • Community engagement & Livelihood enhancement (e.g. awareness campaigns and creation of new income generating activities, mainly with fishers);
    • Support to tourism (e.g. MPA branding, UW attractions, visitor centre design);
    • Management and Revenue mechanisms: The company is developing mechanisms to become financially sustainable and generate its own incomes from statutory MPA user fees and innovative edutainment visitor centre.