Building credible, effective MPA enforcement in the Caribbean: An interview with Jayson Horadam

MPA News

Jayson Horadam is the Senior Consultant at MPA Enforcement International, a firm that advises MPAs on enforcement programs, management, and leadership, particularly in the Caribbean region (mpaenforcement.com). Horadam has a quarter-century of experience in marine law enforcement and natural resource protection. He began his career in 1989 as an enforcement officer in what later became the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, in the US. In 2002, Horadam was named the first captain of the sanctuary’s Enforcement Team, directing a 19-member squad in patrolling and protecting 9500 km2 of sea.

MPA News: Why did you start your company, MPA Enforcement International?

Jayson Horadam: When I was an MPA enforcement officer and interacted with the enforcement personnel from other sites in the Caribbean region, I found that MPAs’ enforcement plans often fell short of effectively protecting their marine and coastal resources. What MPA Enforcement International does is to deliver training and guidance to create effective and efficient enforcement programs.

MPA News: Can you describe examples of shortcomings you have seen in MPA enforcement?

Horadam: A few countries empower their police forces to protect MPAs but do not provide any specialized training or guidance for such services. In addition, police can be very busy with other duties they find more important, making MPA enforcement a secondary task. Other countries use enforcement rangers or wardens but fail to provide them with the necessary enforcement powers, training, or equipment.

Often the people in charge of enforcement programs have a limited background in enforcement or law and do not understand the elements of building a credible, effective enforcement program. There is an MPA in the Caribbean, for example, where the wardens have no powers of arrest but routinely take alleged violators to jail. In this case, the wardens could be charged with false imprisonment. In other MPAs, there are no guidelines for the collection and chain of custody for evidence. Without a proper chain of custody, there is no case to present in court.

MPA News: In your view, what are the most important skills necessary for MPA enforcement personnel to have?

Horadam: An enforcement program must have people trained in:

  • Identification of violations and the proper steps to be taken;
  • Writing a report of the violation incorporating all elements needed to meet court-required criteria;
  • Collecting and preserving evidence, rendering the evidence properly marked to a secure compound, completing an entire case package, and presenting that case to court; and
  • Keeping themselves safe, as well as the public and violators.

If all of the above is achieved, the enforcement program will be able to present a professional presence that is a deterrent to unwanted behavior and activity. It will also gain support and encouragement from user groups, communities, local and national police, and the judiciary system.

MPA News: As part of your consulting work, you design your trainings around the unique circumstances of each MPA enforcement program. What are some of the ways that MPA differ in their MPA enforcement conditions?

Horadam: Some MPAs deal with violations as civil procedures while others are criminal. (Civil generally involves monetary fines only, while criminal offences relate to jail time and the possibilities of monetary fines as well.) Some areas enjoy the support of local fisherfolk while others do not. Some have consistent government funding while others are dependent on alternative financing schemes. Some enforcement personnel spend their days collecting fees from “yachties” while the wardens in other MPAs in the region are dodging drug smugglers’ bullets.

So while the manual of Standard Operating Procedures that we provide to enforcement programs may share many points between sites, area-specific situations certainly apply.

MPA News: Can you provide an example of a specific training session you have provided?

Horadam: We were hired this year by Grenada’s Fisheries Division to help them develop an MPA enforcement program that more effectively protected their resources and personnel. We delivered a five-day workshop that stressed the importance of officer and public safety, as well as how to build a solid enforcement case. Participants were able to demonstrate what they learned in the classroom through field training and practical exercises with the instructors.

Through the week participants received additional instruction from partners such as the Royal Grenadian Police Force (RGPF) Prosecutor and other members of the RGPF and Coast Guard. The workshop facilitated the development of a partnership between Grenada’s MPA rangers and the RGPF. As an outcome, the MPAs are now collaborating with the RGPF to use the police evidence compound, a step that simplifies the entire chain of custody aspect of court proceedings.

In addition we emphasized to the rangers that as enforcement officers, they are considered MPA “ambassadors”: they are the contacts who interact with 98% of MPA users. There is an important outreach and education component to the job, and our partners at CaMPAM (the Caribbean MPA Managers Network) — who help develop community campaigns to build community compliance with regulations — assisted with that aspect.

For more information:

Jayson Horadam, MPA Enforcement International. Florida, US. Email: j.horadam [at] mpaenforcement.com

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