Organization Science improves management effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas
The ecological management effectiveness (EME) of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is the degree to which MPAs reach their ecological goals. The significant variability of EME among MPAs has been partly explained by MPA design, management and implementation features (e.g. surface area, enforcement, age of protection). We investigated EME variability by employing, for the first time, Organization Science. Eight Mediterranean MPAs were taken into account as case studies to explore the relationships between EME and MPA features, such as: 1) organizational size (i.e. the ratio between the number of full-time employees and the total MPA surface area), 2) management performance (i.e. the level of effort exerted to enhance and sustain the MPA management, including enforcement), 3) total surface area, and 4) MPA age. The log-response ratios of fish biomass and density in protected vs unprotected (control) areas were used as a proxy of EME. Management performance, organizational size and, to a lesser extent, MPA age were positively correlated with the log-response ratio of fish biomass, whereas total surface area did not display a significant role. None of the four features considered was significantly correlated with the log-response ratio of fish density. Based on our findings, we argue that the employment of Organization Science in the management effectiveness assessment can assist MPA managers to reach MPAs goals more effectively, with a more efficient use of available resources.