Marine protected area strategies: issues, divergences and the search for middle ground
There has been a dramatic increase in recentyears in the number of papers, reports, etc.,which have been published concerning MarineProtected Areas (MPAs). This overview of theobjectives, selection, design and management ofMPAs aims to provide a basis for discussionregarding possible ways forward by identifyingemerging issues, convergences and divergences. Whilst the attributes of the marine environmentmay limit the effectiveness of site-specificinitiatives such as MPAs, it is argued that itwould be defeatist in the extreme to abandonMPAs in the face of these limitations. Ten keyobjectives for MPAs are discussed, includingthat of harvest refugia, and it is argued thatwhilst these objectives may be justifiable froma preservationist perspective, they may beobjected to from a resource exploitationperspective. MPAs generate both internal(between uses) and basic (between use andconservation) conflicts, and it is argued thatthese conflicts may be exacerbated whenscientific arguments for MPAs are motivated bypreservationist concerns. It is reported thata minority of MPAs are achieving theirmanagement objectives, and that for themajority insufficient information was availablefor such effectiveness evaluations. Structureand process-oriented perspectives on marineconservation are discussed. It is argued thatthere are two divergent stances concerningoptimal MPA management approaches: top-down,characterized as being government-led andscience-based, with a greater emphasis onset-aside; and bottom-up, characterized asbeing community-based and science-guided, witha greater emphasis on multiple-use. Given thedivergent values of different stakeholders, thehigh degree of scientific uncertainty, and thehigh marine resource management decisionstakes, it is concluded that a key challenge isto adopt a "middle-ground" approach whichcombines top-down and bottom-up approaches, andwhich is consistent with the post-normalscientific approach.