Stakeholder perspectives on large-scale marine protected areas
Large-scale marine protected areas (LSMPAs), MPAs greater than 100,000km2, have proliferated in the past decade. However, the value of LSMPAs as conservation tools is debated, in both global scientific and policy venues as well as in particular sites. To add nuance and more diverse voices to this debate, this research examines the perspectives of stakeholders directly engaged with LSMPAs. We conducted a Q Method study with forty LSMPA stakeholders at five sites, including three established LSMPAs (the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, United States; the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, Kiribati; the National Marine Sanctuary, Palau) and two sites where LSMPAs had been proposed at the time of research (Bermuda and Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile). The analysis reveals five distinct viewpoints of LSMPAs. These include three more optimistic views of LSMPAs we have named Enthusiast, Purist, and Relativist. It also depicts two more cautious views of LSMPAs, which we have named Critic and Skeptic. The findings demonstrate the multi-dimensionality of stakeholder viewpoints on LSMPAs. These shared viewpoints have implications for the global LSMPA debate and LSMPA decision-makers, including highlighting the need to focus on LSMPA consultation processes. Better understanding of these viewpoints, including stakeholder beliefs, perspectives, values and concerns, may help to facilitate more nuanced dialogue amongst LSMPA stakeholders and, in turn, promote better governance of LSMPAs.