By Peter JS Jones, Dept of Geography, University College London, P.J.Jones [at] ucl.ac.uk
What does the recommendation that the “design and management of MPAs must be both top-down and bottom-up”  actually mean in practice? This is the key question that a recent UNEP funded study on MPA governance (MPAG)  addresses, the findings of which have just been published in a special issue of the journal Marine Policy.
Debates surrounding governance strategies for MPAs have to date largely focused on top-down, bottom-up or market-based approaches. Whilst co-management approaches for governing MPAs are widely accepted as a way forward for combining these three strategies, many interpretations of this concept exist and it is applied in many different ways to MPAs in different contexts. This study aimed to explore governance through a case-study approach based on a specifically developed empirical framework – the marine protected area governance (MPAG) analysis framework – to increase understanding of how to combine the three governance approaches. A dialogue with MPA practitioners in 20 case studies helped shape the MPAG analysis framework as it developed, and an international workshop was held on ‘Governing MPAs’, bringing the practitioners together to compare results and further develop the framework. The first paper in this special issue provides an overview of the topic and research methodology and introduces the case studies (Jones, De Santo, Qiu and Vestergaard, 2013)