Located approximately 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Jamaica, Pedro Bank is a biologically and economically-significant area. Its three sandy islands (cays) are composed of coral reefs, sand, and sea grass beds. It makes up Jamaica’s main commercial and artisanal fishing grounds, serves as the primary harvesting area for queen conch, and is also an important nesting area for both seabirds and sea turtles.

In response to increased fishing and transportation pressure, as well as oil exploration, the Government of Jamaica agreed to use a PGIS (Participatory GIS) approach to develop a range of options that could be used as a starting point for marine spatial planning, with the intention of creating a zoning plan for Pedro Bank.  This process started with preliminary research into existing data sources and data groups, as well as meetings with relevant government agencies and key stakeholders from civil society and private sector. This phase also included mapping exercises with artisanal fishers to gain insight into common place names and locally used units of measurement in the area.

This was followed by a period of stakeholder outreach which employed a variety of methods, ranging from informational brochures, press releases, email lists, and presentations.  The data collection and creation component of the project consisted of marine field surveys to validate and assess habitat data from remote sensing sources, as well as a participatory mapping component.  Participatory research methods (e.g., semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, and mapping exercises) with key stakeholders were used to fill data gaps, validate existing data and incorporate local knowledge into the planning process. One mapping exercise specifically engaged commercial and artisanal fishers, who provided spatial data on the extent of fishing grounds, nursery areas and priority fishing areas. Fishers also provided information on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and recommendations on conservation areas and fishing zones.

Based on these efforts, the team created a spatial database and related maps of both conservation and human use-themed datasets. The team also developed maps of recommended potential locations for new conservation areas and fishing zones, which were evaluated in subsequent stakeholder meetings.  The team recommended a series of subsequent steps to support the implementation of zoning design, to include management plans, legal analyses, and the development of a monitoring and enforcement program.

TNC’s Role

  • Financing
  • Process facilitation
  • Science/technical expertise

TNC played a role assisting with establishing an endowment. The Caribbean Challenge Initiative will help provide financial support for the preserve under the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund. TNC has made an initial pledge of $8 million USD into the fund. The National Environment and Planning Agency contracted TNC to conduct participatory GIS (PGIS) leading to the development of the MSP and zoning design. TNC led the study to analyze various types of information needed for MSP in Pedro Bank and applied methodology to develop ecosystem-based information for Pedro Bank, and began co-managing the site in 2011.

Project Partners

Lead Institution: TNC

Other Partners: Government of Jamaica – National Environment and Planning Agency, Global Environment Fund, United Nations Development Programme, Jamaica Environment Trust, USAID (Funder)


The Pedro Bank MSP was accepted by the National Environment and Planning Agency. which contracted TNC to conduct the PGIS leading to the development of the MSP and zoning design.  However the MSP requires a multi-agency approval and that is under consideration by the Government. A Management Plan was updated and this, along with the MSP, has been used to bring focus to areas in need of conservation on the Bank.  Based on this information, the National Environment and Planning Agency is planning to declare three marine protected areas as a result.

Fact Sheets and Project Links

The Pedro Bank Reserve

Baldwin, K., Schill, S., Zenny, N., Blake, D. 2014. Developing Ecosystem-Based Information for Marine Spatial Planning on the Pedro Bank, Jamaica. Proceedings of the 67t Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute. Christ Church, Barbados. 

Photo credit: © Brandon Hay

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