Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Joshua Feingold

Second Advisor

Richard E. Spieler


Many Caribbean nations have established MPAs to preserve marine biodiversity and maintain their economically important marine resources. In some Caribbean nations, in particular the Dominican Republic, most MPAs have failed in these respects and have remained “paper parks” due to being modeled along traditional conservation lines without careful consideration of socioeconomic factors, good management practices or increasingly important climate change factors. Successful Caribbean MPAs and MPA networks effectively function as refuges, attractions, sources of socioeconomic development and ecosystem-based climate change resilience mechanisms. The latter is of utmost importance to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other larger island developing states in the region because of their vulnerability to climate change. This multidimensional vision of MPAs has not been developed or applied in the Dominican Republic, and the reasons behind this issue are presented in this paper. Existing Dominican MPAs are analyzed as two individual case studies; National Park del Este and Montecristi National Park. Proposals fortheir improved management are outlined and a comparison is made with two successful Caribbean MPAs: La Soufrière Marine Management Area and the Bonaire Marine Park. The role of Dominican and international NGOs, coastal community involvement and MPA stakeholders such as dive operators and donors is investigated in defining these broad-based MPA objectives. Finally, alternative approaches for reaching the goals of preserving marine biodiversity, integrating socioeconomic impacts and building climate change resilience are proposed. The improvement of national MPAs and integration with regional MPA networks are the best long-term win-win marine conservation solutions for the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean.