The Soufrière Maritime Management Association is one of the best-known examples of "participatory environmental planning" in the southern hemisphere. Created in 1994 after more than three years of intensive stakeholder consultation and negotiation, involving resource users, governmental and non-governmental agencies, it is still entrusted to date with the management of 11 kilometres of the most valuable coastal resources of Saint Lucia, a small Caribbean island whose economy is increasingly dependent on tourism. At the beginning of the 1990s, overuse and escalating conflicts involving fishers, divers, snorkelers, yachts, hotels and other stakeholders led public authorities to try to regulate the situation through traditional top-down regulatory efforts. Disappointment with this approach led to a rethinking of how natural resources were to be allocated, this time in line with a more inclusive "community participation" approach. (...)
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