SPAW - Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife

The Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Protocol) was adopted in 1990, and entered into force in 2000. The SPAW Protocol seeks to "Take the necessary measures to protect, preserve and manage in a sustainable way: 

  1. areas that require protection to safeguard their special value, and
  3. threatened or endangered species of flora and fauna."

The objectives of the SPAW Sub-Programme are to assist Governments in meeting the provisions of the Protocol and to:

  1. Significantly increase the number, and improve the management of, protected and/or managed areas in the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR), including support to national and regional conservation management strategies and plans.
  3. Support the conservation of threatened and endangered species and sustainable use of natural resources to prevent them from becoming threatened or endangered.
  5. Develop strong regional capability for information exchange, training and assistance, in support of national biodiversity conservation efforts; Coordinate activities, and develop synergies, with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), as well as other biodiversity-related treaties and initiatives, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES), the Convention on Wetlands/Ramsar Convention, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)/Bonn Convention, the Western Hemisphere Conventions, the Interamerican Convention for the Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC), the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative (WHMSI).

    In pursuit of the objectives listed above, the SPAW Sub-Programme's major achievements between 2013-2014 included:

    • The launch of the Mentorship Programme completed during 2014. Three mentorship agreements and capacity building activities were successfully concluded between Mentors of at least three (3) SPAW-listed MPA sites (Bonaire Marine Park, La Caleta, Dominican Republic; Hol Chan, Belize) with mentees from MPAs in 3 SPAW Parties (Barbados, Cuba and Belize).
    • The development of a dedicated database and on-line tool in order to house data and generate statistics for Protected Areas listed under the SPAW Protocol.

    An additional 14 sites (including Cayos de San Felipe National Park in Cuba) have been listed bringing the total to 32 Protected Area’s from the Wider Caribbean Region listed by Parties.


        NB: Some of the list of benefits for sites listed under SPAW includes:

          Increased recognition and awareness as a place of importance locally, regionally and globally

          Local and national pride resulting in national responsibility to support management

          Higher visibility resulting in possible increases in employment opportunities and income (e.g. tourism, “marketing” the area)

          More likely to benefit from SPAW grants and other types of assistance (sites become priorities for SPAW Secretariat)

          Opportunities for enhancing capacity, management, protection and sustainability

          Opportunities for support under other areas of SPAW and CEP (species conservation, pollution control, EBM.

          • A Memorandum of Cooperation completed in 2014 with the Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund) for implementation of greater collaboration and coordination on sustainable management and conservation of coastal and marine resources within the Mesoamerica reef.




          • To promote effective marine managed areas in the Insular Caribbean and associated countries, the project “Climate Resilient Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network (ECMMAN)”, was conceived and led by The Nature Conservancy with funding from the Government of Germany, and also coordinated by SPAW through CaMPAM commencing in 2014. The project aims at strengthening the existing Marine Managed Areas of six Eastern Caribbean countries (Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada) via the provision of financial resources and technical expertise in the form of small grants.

          The project, which began in 2010, came to an end in July 2013, whereby four pilot sites were selected in Colombia, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Haiti to test the implementation of the management approaches. It is expected that lessons learnt and best practices would then be upscaled and included in the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for replication in other coastal communities within the future CLME+ Project to be implemented at a later date.

          • Assisting the Convention on Biological Diversity with describing ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSA).


          For more information on the current and past activities of the SPAW Programme, please see below:- 

          SPAW Workplan and Budget for the 2017-2018 Biennium:


          SPAW Workplan and Budget for the 2015-2016 Biennium:


          SPAW Workplan Summary for the 2013-2014 Biennium:



          Overview of the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife Protocol  


          There are four programme elements implemented to achieve the SPAW objectives:


          Strengthening and Management of Protected Areas in the Wider Caribbean Region


          Development of Guidelines for the Management of Protected Areas and Species


          Conservation of Threatened and Endangered Species


          Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine and Coastal Ecosystems



          SPAW Publications:

          The biannual publication of the Workplan and Budget of the SPAW Regional Programme


          SPAW newsletters and other publications


          SPAW Protocol Documents

          • SPAW Protocol (text only)

            Download PDF file in English Download PDF file in SpanishDownload PDF file in French

          • Final Act, Resolutions 1990

            Download PDF file in English Download PDF file in Spanish Download PDF file in French

          • Final Act, Resolution, Appendix and Species Annexes I, II, III 1991

            Download PDF file in English

          • SPAW Factsheet

            Download PDF file in English Download PDF file in Spanishpdf-fr.png

          • SPAW Brochure

            pdf-en.png pdf-es.png pdf-fr.png

          • SPAW Benefits Sheet

            Download PDF file in English Download PDF file in SpanishDownload PDF file in French

          • Guildines for Marine Mammal Watching in the WCR
            Download PDF file in English
          • Ratification Map

                Ratification Map