Since 2008, TNC has been working with the Cayman Islands Department of Environment on MPA design and assessment.  Partnering with local government and stakeholders, TNC helped to design a New MPA Network which expands the current MPA system from 16.7% to 50%, or 7,717 acres to 26,542 acres. The new design incorporated the latest scientific concepts on MPA design, based on the TNC Reef Resilience Guidance, connectivity of maximizing fish spillover for fisheries benefits.  TNC also took part in a scientific assessment of reef resilience within and outside MPAs in the Cayman Islands using the Healthy Reefs initiatives.

TNC’s Role

  • Marxan
  • Monitoring
  • Science/technical expertise
  • Stakeholder engagement

 TNC led a Marxan analysis that informed MPA network design based on extensive engagement with local government and stakeholders, and provided scientific and technical expertise during the assessment reef resilience in the MPA network. To support monitoring efforts, TNC developed a smart-phone app for enforcement and for public interaction on rules, regulations and sustainable seafood options related to MPAs

Project Partners

Lead Institution: Cayman Islands Department of the Environment

Other Partners: National Conservation Council, Darwin Initiative, Bangor University, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), UK (funder)


The new MPA system has been approved by the National Conservation Council and is awaiting cabinet approval.

Fact Sheets and Links

Olynik, J, Richardson, L, and Schill S. 2012. Marine Ecological Gap Analysis methods for the Darwin Initiative to enhance an established marine protected area system in the Cayman Islands. Report prepared by The Cayman Islands Department of Environment, Bangor University and The Nature Conservancy, 41p

Photo credit: ©Daniel & Robbie Wisdom

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