in coastal regions and in small islands
Coastal region and small island papers 11
OVER BEACH RESOURCES AND VALUES
of our islands have problems with coastal management. It seems we have
inherited our colonial masters’ mentality where our beaches are
concerned – strip them bare, take their wealth, absorb their
productivity, then leave them empty and useless. While we play on our
golden sands and share our islands’ beauty with the tourists we
welcome, while we play cricket and soccer in the surf and watch our
picnic fires burn, we do not see the changing contours of the beach
line. We do not note the slow march inland. We hop over the piles of
litter and flotsam. We take little notice of the vanishing species from
the reefs, or the dying coral, until they are long gone.’
The coast plays an
important role in island life and almost every economic sector has a strong
stake in the coast. Anguilla, like many of its sister
islands, often boasts with pride that it has some of the best and most pristine
beaches in the Caribbean. Yet, with its small size, Anguillans realize that if
they were to destroy even one beach, or sacrifice one on behalf of development,
it would in fact represent a significant percentage of the island’s natural
resources, its ‘bread and butter’. Due to this dependency on the coast, it
is impossible to allocate the use of the coast or beach to a single economic
sector for development or to give one sector priority over another. Hence, there
always arise conflicts and struggles amongst private and quasi-private
property-based operations on the shore, and public (common) property-based
activities on the beach and in the coastal waters. There are also conflicts
between regulatory agencies and developers wanting to do as they wish in coastal
areas; and between regulatory agencies and elected members of government, who
may wish to ignore various regulations and policies in the name of development
and short-term economic gain. In light of this, it is essential that there be a
coastal management process in place that has a mechanism to cope with conflict
In many islands, the
indigenous population have taken it for granted that the coastal areas and the
beaches would always be available for their use and enjoyment. However, with the
expanding tourism industry, as for example on the north shore of Providenciales
in the Turks and Caicos Islands, conflicts are arising
and islanders are concerned about their ‘presumed rights’.
Even in an island
less dependent on beach-based tourism, such as Dominica, 75% of the island’s
communities live within one kilometre of the coast. And in Dominica, with the
country’s over-dependence on agriculture and export in an era of
globalization, outside factors are forcing the country towards economic
diversification with a focus on tourism and the service sector.
In all the islands
land tenure is a major cause of conflict. The granting of property rights
without giving the necessary consideration to customary resource users has, in
many cases, undermined the ‘common’ or ‘public’ status of the beach.
OF THE CONFLICTS
national workshops on ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Beach Management’ held in
the eastern Caribbean islands in 2000–2001, the results
were synthesized. The analysis showed that the major conflicts were between
the following groups:
beach-user groups, e.g. fishers and beach vendors.
landowners and the public over the right of access to the beach.
operators and beach users.
owners protecting their land from inundation by the sea and other beach
solid and other waste at the beach or inland and beach users.
Examples of some of
these conflicts can be seen in St Kitts, where the
beaches are largely unmanaged and user conflicts result in overcrowding, illegal
sand mining, unplanned development, dune destruction, the removal of coastal
vegetation, and pollution. These problems often result in quick-fix solutions
such as the construction of sea walls or offshore dredging, which may exacerbate
the situation. An examination of the problem areas include the conflict among
vendors at South Friars Bay, the unsustainable extraction of sand at Belle Tete
Beach in Sandy Point, the construction of a poorly designed seawall at North
Frigate Bay, and the excessive pollution of Basseterre Bay. These problems are
compounded by a sense of complacency on the part of island residents, who still
uphold the traditional belief that the sea is self-purifying and sand will
always be there on the beach. St Kitts is by no means alone in facing these
between developers and other beach users
developers and other beach users at Batalie Beach in
Dominica were presented and discussed. In 1995, fishermen found the entrance
to the beach, which they had traditionally used, closed by a gate and a fence.
During the workshop, participants had the opportunity to discuss this issue and
how it was resolved with representatives of the Village Council and the
fishermen. This conflict is further analysed in the context of wise practice
agreements in Chapter 4.
Often conflicts arise
because one group of stakeholders does not accept the rights of another group.
In the Maldives, for example, fishermen have
traditionally used the reefs for bait fishing. However, tourists who dive on the
reef view fishing as destructive.
between coastal landowners and the public over the right of access to the beach
Beach access is a
concern in many Caribbean islands and it relates to the fact that islanders take
their beaches and coastal areas for granted and assume that because they had
free and easy access in the past, this will always be the case. Traditional
rights of way have to be in use over a period of years before they acquire legal
This was discussed
during a workshop field visit to Picard Beach in Dominica where, because of
serious coastal erosion, the only road access to the Coconut Beach Hotel now
lies on a neighbour’s property and is the subject of a legal dispute. This
situation is described and analysed in detail in Chapter 4- Wise practice
In the Seychelles,
access to the beach has not yet arisen as a major problem, but due to the recent
increase in hotel construction, there is concern that island residents may feel
like ‘intruders’ on beaches adjacent to large hotels. This is already the
case in some of the Caribbean islands. In Nevis, there
is a growing concern among residents, who use the beaches for bathing,
picnicking, fishing, jogging, etc., about the increasing exclusiveness of some
of the beaches being marketed for tourism, and also among the population who
feel they are being ‘plannedaway’ from the coast.
Another issue that
arises is that of privately owned islands such as exist in the British Virgin
Islands and the Grenadines, where nationals are often not allowed access to the
beaches. In the Maldives, foreigners are not allowed to own land, only to lease
it. Whole islands may be leased for tourism resorts; the Tourism Ministry
monitors such leasing and is also responsible for coordinating resort planning
and granting permits.
The concept of
‘coast’ in the Maldives includes the total land
area of each island, its surrounding lagoon extending over the reef flat to the
outer edge of the reef. Resident communities of individual islands regard the
surrounding lagoon and reefs as an integral part of their coast. While
individual home and agriculture plots are delineated, the rest of the land area,
the beach, lagoon and reef are community wealth and used by all. Access to and
from beaches is not a major issue as individual land plots are set well back
from the beach.
participants felt that the public should have the right of access to the beach.
In Anguilla, it is not permitted to restrict access to the beach. While in the
Turks and Caicos Islands, enhancement of public accesses is sometimes included
as a condition for development.
However, at one beach
in Dominica, Macoucherie, where there is no public
access because the land is privately owned and it is necessary to cross a river
to get to the beach, the landowner has installed facilities (showers, washrooms,
picnic tables, etc.) and charges a small fee for their use. Picnickers have
welcomed these measures, and as a result, this beach is one of the few that is
not mined for sand and is relatively free from solid waste.
Similarly, at Anse
Chastanet in St Lucia, one hotel occupies the whole of the beachfront and the
bay, and enjoys unrestricted access to the bay and the reef. The operators of
this hotel have adopted a behaviour pattern synonymous with owning the beach
and the reef, which has resulted in the resources remaining relatively intact.
However, neighbouring stakeholder groups view this arrangement negatively, and
conflicts have resulted, only partly resolved by the Soufriere
Marine Management Area (see also Chapter 4). While it is acknowledged that
coastal resources may be better managed under private stewardship, this conflicts
with the generally held perception of coastal resources being common property,
and the guaranteed constitutional right of access by St Lucians to these resources.
between coastal property owners protecting their land and other beach users
seawall under construction,
Pottersville, Dominica. 2001
nesting on Silhouette Island in
development and other coastal infrastructure with sea walls and revetments
causes significant erosion of the land on either side of the sea defence
structure, and may even result in the loss of the beach in front of the
structure. This concern is being increasingly expressed in Nevis
by coastal developers and others. Several speakers at the Opening ceremony of
the workshop noted the growing proliferation of seawalls in Dominica
following the recent hurricanes, and the impacts these were having on beaches
and on wildlife, specifically crabs and turtles.
In contrast to the
Caribbean islands, beach protection is regarded as a community responsibility in
the Maldives. Community members contribute in kind
(such as labour, cement bags, food for the workers) to the construction and
maintenance of beach protection structures such as breakwaters, groynes, sea
walls and harbour protection structures. The appointed administrative head of
each inhabited island, the Island Development Committee and the Women’s
Development Committee, guides community activities. Furthermore, concerns in the
Maldives about sea level rise and coastal inundation have resulted in a
centralization programme, such that very vulnerable communities are given the
opportunity to move to the larger islands and are provided with new housing as
compensation for the property left behind.
between persons indiscriminately dumping solid waste and other beach users
and Grenada, a number of coastal villages dump garbage
in rivers and over the edge of cliffs, thereby impacting the coastal ecosystem
and the health of people who use the coast for fishing and recreation. While the
deep waters surrounding Dominica might appear as suitable sites for dumping,
this would not only be unethical environmentally, but would also be uneconomic
in an island promoting itself as the ‘Nature Island’ with an important focus
on dive tourism.
OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION
resolution: developers and other beach users
markets have been
constructed in some islands, such as
here at Grand Anse, Grenada, where
visitors can buy locally-made items.
in the Turks and Caicos Islands, there is an ongoing conflict between the
managers of some all-inclusive hotels and beach vendors. The latter wish to sell
their wares directly to tourists on the beach, but are often accused of
harassing the tourists. At present, all the stakeholder groups, including the
government, are working together to identify specific locations, vendors
markets, where the vendors can operate successfully.
in the coastal area of Canefield, Dominica, is a serious issue. While several
local industrialists were invited to the workshop, unfortunately they did not
attend. This emphasizes the need to find innovative ways to bring all
stakeholders into the conflict resolution process. In this regard, reference was
made to another CSI field
project in Gujarat, India, where a major ship-breaking industry has caused
serious environmental and social conflicts in the local area. Through individual
and combined consultations with stakeholder groups – villagers, migrant
workers, ship-breaking plot owners and the government – efforts are being made
to resolve the many conflicts (UNESCO
resolution: sand mining operators and other beach users
The need for an
analytical approach to solve complex conflicts such as beach sand mining is
often not recognized. For instance in Nevis, after a survey of sand resources,
several options were tried before an appropriate solution was found. These
included the use of quarry dust, and importation of sand, first from Dominica,
then from Barbuda. As situations evolve, new options have to be continually
sought, and islanders need to learn from each other.
sand has traditionally been considered a free resource available to all.
Following two serious hurricanes, a strategy was implemented in 1994 to resolve
the resource conflict. This included the importation of a new rock crusher to
provide an alternative to beach sand, and the closure of the beaches. Other
measures included the government’s commitment not to use beach sand in
government contracts, training sessions for contractors in the use of quarry
dust, and a permitting system for the extraction of sand from one specific beach
for use as a finishing material only. An extensive public education programme
was undertaken. However, as mentioned above, situations continually change, and
following the volcanic crisis and the relocation of the population to the
northern third of the island, there was another construction boom in 1998,
endangering the few remaining accessible beaches. This has necessitated the
development of a new strategy devised by all the stakeholders. The strategy is
based on the formation of a public awareness committee; the holding of regular
stakeholder meetings to discuss concerns relating to sand mining; and the
formation of a commission to guide policy on beach management. The lessons
learnt in Montserrat over the decade of the 1990s have illustrated the important
role of education in changing the misconception that the sea has a limitless
supply of sand.
Coral and sand mining
have been addressed in the Maldives using a similar
approach to Montserrat, including regulation, providing alternatives, and
raising awareness. The approach included a ban on coral mining, economic
incentives such as reducing the duty on imported aggregate and cement, and an
extensive awareness programme on the importance of reefs for fisheries, tourism
and coastal protection.
resolution: role of regional organizations
There is a commonality
of problem issues within small islands. Thus regional organizations such as
the Organisation of Eastern
Caribbean States Natural Resources Management Unit (OECS-NRMU), and island
groupings such as the Federated States
of Micronesia (FSM), may have an important role to play in incorporating
conflict prevention and resolution into regional programmes and projects. However,
this may be harder to achieve in the FSM, where the islands all have different
languages, which makes programme implementation a difficult task.
resolution: role of non-governmental organizations
too rarely are beach accesses
stockpiled behind a beach, as
seen here at Sturge Park Beach, was
a common site in Montserrat in the
(NGOs) may play different roles in conflict prevention and resolution. In some
cases they act as a watchdog; for instance, the St
Christopher Heritage Society (SCHS) is quickly informed by its members of
instances of coastal degradation and destruction, and then brings these issues
to the attention of the government of St Kitts-Nevis
and the public. The SCHS is sometimes seen as a threat by the government which
does not always accept the validity of their information or agree with their
However, the SCHS
also provides an important linkage between government, the private sector and
the community. So too, in the Turks and Caicos Islands,
Trust is working with two government agencies to implement a public awareness
programme on coastal resources. The government is considering the transfer of
ownership and management of some of the public beach accesses to the National
exist to serve the needs of civil society. In Antigua and
Barbuda, where government is a major employer, and people may not want to be
seen criticizing it, they will support the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG).
A similar situation exists in Dominica, with the
Dominica Conservation Association.
In cases, where NGOs
have opposed government over a particular issue, they may suffer a backlash as a
result. This was the case in Antigua and Barbuda when the EAG
opposed the Guiana Island development.
It is very important
to be fully in touch with their members and stakeholders. In the case of the EAG,
they have just undergone a major review process with their members. This
involved full consultation on the issues to be addressed by the organization,
using questionnaires, workshops and meetings. In some cases there are quasi-NGOs,
e.g. the National Science and Technology Council in Grenada, which receives a
subvention from the government. Reference was made to a discussion thread on the
WiCoP forum relating
to unscrupulous NGOs,
particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia (Riedmiller,
2000). Complete transparency in all matters, and especially in
financial accounting, is very important.
TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION
The main constraints
to conflict resolution discussed related to fragmentation of government
responsibility for beach management and a lack of political support. In
addition, enforcement is often focused more towards protecting the economy than
of agency coordination
Although some progress
has been made in the management of Grenada’s beaches
over the years, there still does not seem to be a set strategy geared towards
overall beach management. Indeed, environmental management is fragmented, and
often shared among different government ministries, agencies and NGOs.
A similar situation was observed in other islands, e.g. Anguilla
and Palau. In Anguilla, regulatory bodies such as the
Physical Planning Department
are often viewed as being impractical and anti-development. This negative attitude
is perpetuated by misinformation circulated within the community and it causes
friction and mistrust between regulatory bodies, developers and members of the
and Barbuda, another aspect of this problem was noted, namely the
territorial behaviour of some government agencies, not wishing to integrate
activities or share information. This is indeed a major problem in many islands
with a sectoral system of government having to deal with intersectoral,
interdisciplinary issues such as environmental management.
The same problem is
often seen in the COSALC project.
In the Caribbean islands, individual government agencies are not used to working
together and actually sharing data, e.g. on beach changes. There is a need for a
proactive approach to information exchange among the agencies involved.
of political support
The lack of political
support for environmental initiatives was noted in several islands. For instance
in St Kitts, alternatives to the use of beach sand for
construction including importation and the use of quarry dust are being
explored. However, it is recognized that political support will be an important
factor in implementing such alternatives, especially in view of the fact that
some political leaders have business interests in transporting sand.
makers is easier if: (i) they are part of the entire process, since they are
major stakeholders; and (ii) the recommendations have the support of the
majority or all of the stakeholders. The nature of the issue or issues under
consideration will determine the length of the process of negotiation towards
elected officials appear to be more concerned with short-term economic benefits
rather than those of a long-term, sustainable nature. This is most apparent when
considering the planning appeals process, where developers can appeal to the
Executive Council (EXCO) if they do not agree with a decision made by the Land
Development Control Committee. It is alarming to note that as many as 90% of
planning appeals that go to EXCO are approved. This undermines government
agencies as well as the very policies endorsed by elected officials. It also
weakens the system put in place to monitor, regulate and enforce coastal
and Barbuda, enforcement is often geared towards safeguarding the economy
rather than the environment. One of the most significant problems with
enforcement is that key players in the legal system, particularly magistrates
and judges, do not take environmental laws seriously. Magistrates have the power
to set fines, and often these are kept very low, so they do not act as a
deterrent. In Antigua and Barbuda, the recent implementation of an EC$500 fine
for littering has reduced the litter problem. There is a need to apply similar
fines to sand mining violators.
and pollution at the mouth of
a ghut (stream), Basseterre, St Kitts.
capabilities in small islands are another serious constraint. Implementation of
the Litter Act in Dominica is inadequate in view of the
fact that there are only four litter wardens for the entire island. This
compares with St Kitts, where there are five litter wardens in each parish. In Montserrat,
beach littering has been reduced by charging an EC$200 user fee for the use of
beaches for public functions. This is returned to the applicant if the beach is
properly cleaned after the event. Publishing the names and actions of violators
may be a deterrent. For instance, in Cuba, video coverage of men found urinating
in public very quickly stopped the problem; in Montserrat, publishing in the
newspaper the names of those fined for littering was also effective.
involvement in enforcement is another important area. There was an attempt to
include village councils in the implementation of the Litter Act in St Kitts;
this failed because of unclear regulations. However, in Palau,
marine conservation areas are run by the communities and are working well. They
are based on the traditional management systems and people generally respect
this system and their chiefs. However, problems arise with persons outside the
community breaking local laws. In Jamaica, honorary
game wardens have been appointed to act as fisheries inspectors, and this
has proved effective. It is proposed to also have honorary litter wardens.
However, such mechanisms have to be included in the law or they can be revoked
when there is a change in political power.
in the preparation of legislation and regulations is another important mechanism
to ensure the resulting legal instruments are fair and practical. In Jamaica,
stakeholders were involved in the preparation of fisheries regulations for the
Portland Bight Protected
Area. These regulations are now before government, and aspects of them are
being incorporated into comprehensive fisheries regulations for the country.
In order for conflict
resolution to be successful, the following factors must be incorporated into the
There needs to be
an analytical approach to conflict resolution, which should include the
historical and cultural background as well as an understanding of the local
need to be fully involved throughout the entire process.
awareness are critical to changing attitudes.
situations change and strategies for conflict prevention and resolution need to
specific tools were proposed to reduce conflicts over beach resources:
responsibility for beaches.
of agency responsibilities regarding beach management.
user rights including a duty of care for the beach.
land tenure over the beach and adjacent lands.
approaches to planning, which include participatory processes.
adequate coastal development setbacks.