Emergence and diversity of marine protected areas in Madagascar
The protection of marine biodiversity is considered a global priority, as exemplified in the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi targets and in Sustainable Development Goal 14. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are considered to be effective conservation and fisheries management tools that generate various ecological and social-economic benefits. MPAs come in all types and sizes, and are managed following different principles, users' needs, and preferences. Madagascar's unique marine biodiversity is currently protected under a range of MPA regimes that emerged comparatively recently, long after the terrestrial protected areas. This study describes the historical outline of the MPA development process in Madagascar, and proposes inputs for the future management of MPAs. A policy arrangement approach to structure an iterative Delphi survey was used to analyse how discourse, actors, rules and resources have shaped MPA development in Madagascar. The findings suggest that international initiatives and funding have played a key role in the early days of MPA emergence, while currently co-management between governmental and non-governmental actors shows mixed results regarding conservation effectiveness. Challenges include a better coordination of efforts among various stakeholders, granting a large responsibility to local communities, e.g. in the successful locally managed marine areas (LMMAs), and integrating customary law into the set of regulations for marine conservation and sustainable management in Madagascar.