Islands are often considered to be a priority for conservation, because of their relatively high levels of biodiversity and their vulnerability to a range of natural and anthropogenic threats. However, the capacity of islands to conserve and manage biodiversity may depend upon their governance structures. Many island states are affiliated to other countries through an 'overseas territory' status, which may provide them with access to resources and support mechanisms, but which may also influence the capacity for local-scale management of environmental issues. The United Kingdom has 12 island Overseas Territories (UKOTs), most of which support biodiversity of high conservation concern. This study investigates perceptions of current and future threats to marine ecosystems and constraints to environmental protection on the six Caribbean UKOTs, through semi-structured interviews with officials from UK and UKOT government departments and non-governmental organisations. Coastal development, pollution and over-fishing were perceived as threats of most concern for the next decade, but climate change was perceived as by far the greatest future threat to the islands' marine ecosystems. However, a series of common institutional limitations that currently constrain mitigation and conservation efforts were also identified, including insufficient personnel and financial support, a lack of long-term, sustainable projects for persistent environmental problems and inadequate environmental legislation. These findings highlight the need for regional cooperation and capacity-building throughout the Caribbean and a more concerted approach to an UKOT environmental management by the UK and UKOTs' governments. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-657
Number of pages11
JournalMarine Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011


  • Marine management
  • Management constraints
  • UK overseas territories
  • Perceptions
  • Marine biodiversity threats
  • Climate change

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