Is it just about the money? A spatial-economic approach to assess ecosystem service tradeoffs in a marine protected area in Brazil
A spatial-economic analysis, together with a social assessment, was used to understand the tradeoffs between different marine ecosystem services (recreation, harvestable fish, and fisheries-related cultural services) in marine protected areas (MPA), using the Brazilian MPA of Fernando de Noronha as a case study. In this MPA, tourism activities, including the profitable shark-diving activity, occur alongside small-scale fisheries that are operated by the local community in some areas, whereas in other areas tourism is the sole beneficiary of ecosystem services given that access by fishers and for fisheries is prohibited. The spatial-economic analyses suggest that tourism revenues are 10 times higher than those provided by fisheries, and would not be substantially affected were fisheries to be expanded to some parts of the MPA, even at the expense of shark-directed tourism. However, this purely economic analysis, which aims to determine how to compensate fishers for not accessing parts of the MPA, is incomplete as the study identified important cultural impacts associated with inability to easily access some parts of the MPA, resulting in the loss of place attachment, cultural heritage and identity. These losses are most felt by fishers who cannot easily switch to alternative economic activities. These findings highlight the need for an integrative approach to addressing marine ecosystem services that is capable of capturing potential types of losses brought about by competing uses of ecosystem services. Considering only the economic benefits of conflicting ecosystem services, while overlooking cultural values, may threaten the effectiveness of MPAs or of the ecosystem services themselves.