A governance analysis of Ningaloo and Shark Bay Marine Parks, Western Australia: Putting the ‘eco’ in tourism to build resilience but threatened in long-term by climate change?
The governance frameworks for Ningaloo Marine Park (NMP) and Shark Bay Marine Park (SBMP) are explored, employing the MPA governance analysis framework. Both face similar conflicts typical of ecotourism, particularly related to the impacts of recreational fishing and marine wildlife tourism. A high diversity of incentives is found to be used, the combination of which promotes effectiveness in achieving conservation objectives and equity in governance. Highly evolved regulations have provided for depleted spangled emperor (Lethrinus nebulosus) stocks in NMP to stabilise and begin recovery, and pink snapper (Pagrus auratus) stocks in SBMP to recover from past depletions, though there are still concerns about recreational fishing impacts. The governance frameworks for marine wildlife tourism are considered extremely good practice. Some incentives need strengthening in both cases, particularly capacity for enforcement, penalties for deterrence and cross-jurisdictional coordination. In NMP there was also a need to promote transparency in making research and monitoring results available, and to address tensions with the recreational fishing sector by building linkages to provide for their specific representation, as part of a strategy to build trust and cooperation with this sector. Both case studies represent world-leading good practice in addressing proximal impacts from local activities, but in the longer-term the foundation species of both marine parks are critically threatened by the distal impacts of climate change. A diversity of incentives has promoted resilience in the short-term, but global action to mitigate climate change is the only way to promote the long-term resilience of these iconic marine ecosystems.