Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

An evaluation of the effectiveness of protected areas in Thailand

Singh M, Griaud C, C. Collins M. An evaluation of the effectiveness of protected areas in Thailand. Ecological Indicators [Internet]. 2021 ;125:107536. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X21002016?dgcid=raven_sd_search_email
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Thailand is a biodiversity hotspot and home to over 1000 bird species, 15,000 plant species, and five of the World Wildlife Fund’s Global 200 Ecoregions of ecological significance. To preserve their unique ecosystems, the Thai government has established and maintained protected areas (PA) which in 2020, are estimated to cover 19% of Thailand’s land area. The success of these areas in preserving biodiversity to date is somewhat ambiguous. Using gap analyses, we evaluated the extent and adequacy of coverage provided by these PAs for the preservation of these unique ecoregions, to threatened amphibian, bird, and mammal species richness hotspots and at a range of altitudes within Thailand.

Regionally, the Indochina dry forests, Northern Khorat Plateau moist deciduous forests and Malaysian Peninsula rainforests are all under-represented. Though opportunities exist for their protection through marine designation, mangrove and wetland ecosystems are also seriously under-represented in the current spatial layout and network connectivity of Thailand’s protected area system. Highland areas (>750 m elevation) are well-protected, in contrast to the lower altitude areas where human and agricultural pressures are higher. Hotspots of threatened birds located in the northern and southern regions of Thailand, as well as most of the central threatened mammal hotspot, are inadequately covered (<10%). The current PAs could be expanded with a focus on these key areas, or further PAs created to address these gaps in provision. The Thai PA network is also highly fragmented and, in addition to increasing the area covered, contiguity and connectivity of the network should be considered. With human population expansion in the central lowland area particularly, there will be challenges and trade-offs to be negotiated along with enforcement within existing areas. We hope, though, that the results of this study can aid policymakers in improving Thai conservation effectiveness.

eDNA metabarcoding as a biomonitoring tool for marine protected areas

Gold Z, Sprague J, Kushner DJ, Marin EZerecero, Barber PH. eDNA metabarcoding as a biomonitoring tool for marine protected areas Belgrano A. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2021 ;16(2):e0238557. Available from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0238557
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Monitoring of marine protected areas (MPAs) is critical for marine ecosystem management, yet current protocols rely on SCUBA-based visual surveys that are costly and time consuming, limiting their scope and effectiveness. Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding is a promising alternative for marine ecosystem monitoring, but more direct comparisons to visual surveys are needed to understand the strengths and limitations of each approach. This study compares fish communities inside and outside the Scorpion State Marine Reserve off Santa Cruz Island, CA using eDNA metabarcoding and underwater visual census surveys. Results from eDNA captured 76% (19/25) of fish species and 95% (19/20) of fish genera observed during pairwise underwater visual census. Species missed by eDNA were due to the inability of MiFish 12S barcodes to differentiate species of rockfishes (Sebastes, n = 4) or low site occupancy rates of crevice-dwelling Lythrypnus gobies. However, eDNA detected an additional 23 fish species not recorded in paired visual surveys, but previously reported from prior visual surveys, highlighting the sensitivity of eDNA. Significant variation in eDNA signatures by location (50 m) and site (~1000 m) demonstrates the sensitivity of eDNA to address key questions such as community composition inside and outside MPAs. Results demonstrate the utility of eDNA metabarcoding for monitoring marine ecosystems, providing an important complementary tool to visual methods.

Exceptionally high but still growing predatory reef fish biomass after 23 years of protection in a Marine Protected Area

Rojo I, Anadón JDaniel, García-Charton JAntonio. Exceptionally high but still growing predatory reef fish biomass after 23 years of protection in a Marine Protected Area Chapman MGeraldine. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2021 ;16(2):e0246335. Available from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0246335
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) help replenish fish assemblages, though different trophic levels may show diverse recovery patterns. Long-term protection is required to achieve total recovery but poaching events may prevent the achievement of full carrying capacity. Here, we have analysed the effect of long-term protection on the entire reef fish community and the different trophic levels in the Cabo de Palos-Islas Hormigas MPA (SE Spain; SW Mediterranean Sea) in order to assess their recovery patterns after 23 years of protection. We compared the values for carrying capacity obtained with the maximum values achieved at regional scale, and we assessed the effect of a reduction in the surveillance over a few years, during which poaching events increased, on the recovery patterns. We found that, overall, biomass of fishes increased with time while density diminished. In particular, piscivorous and macro-invertivore fish increased while the other trophic groups remained constant or declined, suggesting top-down processes. For the entire study period, those trophic groups were approaching carrying capacity; however, when accounting only for the period in which enforcement was high and constant, they grew exponentially, indicating that full carrying capacity may have not been achieved yet. When compared to other Mediterranean MPAs, the Cabo de Palos-Islas Hormigas MPA showed values for biomass that were disproportionately higher, suggesting that local factors, such as habitat structure and associated oceanographic processes, may be responsible for the dynamics found. Our results help to understand the potential trajectories of fish assemblages over a consolidated MPA and highlight empirically how the reduction of surveillance in a period may change the recovery patterns.

Towards ecological and social impact through collaborative governance of a seascape of marine protected areas in Honduras

Steadman D. Towards ecological and social impact through collaborative governance of a seascape of marine protected areas in Honduras. Oryx [Internet]. 2021 :1 - 12. Available from: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/oryx/article/towards-ecological-and-social-impact-through-collaborative-governance-of-a-seascape-of-marine-protected-areas-in-honduras/8D81939757E6B58626DC849D46126594
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Protecting marine biodiversity and ensuring sustainable use through a seascape approach is becoming increasingly widespread in response to the ecological, social and institutional challenges of scaling ocean management. A seascape approach means clustering spatial management measures (marine protected areas) based around the principles of ecological connectivity, and developing or enhancing collaborative governance networks of relevant stakeholders (managers, community groups, non-governmental organizations) based around the principles of social connectivity. As with other large-scale approaches to marine management, there is minimal evidence of long-term impact in seascapes. This study uses a theory-based, participatory impact evaluation to assess perceived changes attributed to the Atlántida seascape in Honduras (initiated in 2015), encompassing three well-established marine protected areas and the non-legally managed waters between them. Using an adapted most significant change method, 15 interviews with a representative subset of seascape stakeholders yielded 165 stories of change, the majority (88%) of which were positive. Enhanced social capital, associated with cross-sectoral collaboration, inter-site conflict resolution and shared learning, was the most consistently expressed thematic change (32% of stories). Although most stories were expressed as activity- or output-related changes, a small proportion (18%) were causally linked to broader outcomes or impact around increased fish and flagship species abundance as well as interconnected well-being benefits for people. Although minimal (and occasionally attributed to prior initiatives that were enhanced by the seascape approach), this impact evidence tentatively links seascapes to recent related research around the effectiveness of appropriately scaled, ecosystem-based and collaboratively governed marine management that balances strict protection with sustainable use.

Analysis and discussion of 28 recent marine protected area governance (MPAG) case studies: Challenges of decentralisation in the shadow of hierarchy

Jones PJS, Long SD. Analysis and discussion of 28 recent marine protected area governance (MPAG) case studies: Challenges of decentralisation in the shadow of hierarchy. Marine Policy [Internet]. 2020 :104362. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X20310137
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

This paper analyses the governance of MPAs through 28 case studies in 17 countries. Limitations of the polycentric governance concept are discussed, particularly its faith in linkages as a means of resolving conflicts and its assumption that the state should only take a passive role. The concept of coevolutionary governance is described and justified, noting that this essentially builds on polycentrism’s systematic case study analysis approach, but evolves it to move beyond its limitations. Coevolutionary governance takes a synecology perspective to analyse how incentives coevolve through their functional integration, as well as how social and ecological systems can coevolve through the feedback mechanisms of human impacts and ecological services. Drawing on the wider concept of multi-level governance, coevolutionary governance is considered to provide for synergies between governance approaches, proposing that coordination can be achieved and conflicts addressed through reconfigured roles of the state providing steer through governance in ‘the shadow of hierarchy’. The MPAG empirical framework is described and the findings of its application outlined. Drawing on these findings, some key trends within and amongst five categories of incentives are explored. These illustrate that incentives synergistically interact in a way that is analogous to synecology, providing for them to be functionally integrated as a means of combining governance approaches. As such, it is argued that these findings support the validity of the coevolutionary governance concept, as well as supporting the argument that “diversity is the key to resilience, both of species in ecosystems and incentives in governance systems”.

'It's not just about fish': Assessing the social impacts of marine protected areas on the wellbeing of coastal communities in New South Wales

Gollan N, Barclay K. 'It's not just about fish': Assessing the social impacts of marine protected areas on the wellbeing of coastal communities in New South Wales Rozylowicz L. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2020 ;15(12):e0244605. Available from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0244605
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Managing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is about managing human behaviours, but decision-making processes have traditionally focussed on ecological aspects, treating social aspects as secondary. It is now becoming more evident that an equal focus on the ecological and social aspects is required. Without the collection of information about social aspect such as impacts and sharing this as well as ecological information with communities, MPAs are at higher risk of opposition and social acceptability problems. This paper explores the development of a wellbeing framework to understand the social aspects, including the impacts of MPAs on the wellbeing of local communities. This research investigates two case study MPAs: Cape Byron and Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Parks in New South Wales, Australia. The MPAs are multiple-use and were implemented in 2006 and 2007, respectively. The research began with a review of the literature, followed by fieldwork, including semi-structured qualitative interviews with community members. Through thematic coding of the interview transcripts in light of the literature on assessing the social impacts of MPAs, a community wellbeing framework of domains and associated attributes was developed to investigate social impacts. Our analysis shows; first, local perspectives are crucial to understanding social impacts. Second, understanding social impacts gives insight into the nature of trade-offs that occur in decision-making regarding MPAs. Third, the intangible social impacts experienced by local communities are just as significant as the tangible ones for understanding how MPAs operate. Fourth, governance impacts have been the most influential factor affecting the social acceptability of the case study parks. We argue that failure to address negative social impacts can undermine the legitimacy of MPAs. We propose that the framework will support policymakers to work towards more effective, equitable and socially sustainable MPAs by employing much-needed monitoring of human dimensions of conservation interventions at the community level to shape adaptive management.

Planning marine protected areas under the CCAMLR regime – The case of the Weddell Sea (Antarctica)

Teschke K, Brtnik P, Hain S, Herata H, Liebschner A, Pehlke H, Brey T. Planning marine protected areas under the CCAMLR regime – The case of the Weddell Sea (Antarctica). Marine Policy [Internet]. 2021 ;124:104370. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X20310216?dgcid=raven_sd_search_email
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Currently, almost 8% of the world's oceans are designated marine protected areas (MPAs), the majority of which are relatively small and under national jurisdiction. Several initiatives are presently underway in international waters to establish large-scale MPAs, such as for the Southern Ocean under the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). By reviewing the MPA initiative in the Weddell Sea (WSMPA), we aim to guide through the planning steps involved in developing an MPA in the high seas of the Southern Ocean in the context of an international organisation, i.e. CCAMLR. We focus also on the associated science-policy discussion process. To this end, we examine the WSMPA roadmap retrospectively from its beginning in 2013 until today. We discuss the individual planning steps and how these have been designed in detail. Throughout, we show that the planning of the WSMPA was based on a collaborative, science-based process that exemplified best practice in applied science. Lastly, we also provide an outlook on the current situation regarding the establishment of CCAMLR MPAs and point out that scientific best practice may not be sufficient to achieve the consensus and political drive ultimately required for the designation of MPAs in the Southern Ocean.

Using Habitat Classification to Assess Representativity of a Protected Area Network in a Large, Data-Poor Area Targeted for Deep-Sea Mining

McQuaid KA, Attrill MJ, Clark MR, Cobley A, Glover AG, Smith CR, Howell KL. Using Habitat Classification to Assess Representativity of a Protected Area Network in a Large, Data-Poor Area Targeted for Deep-Sea Mining. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2020 ;7. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2020.558860/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1509416_45_Marine_20201217_arts_A
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Extractive activities in the ocean are expanding into the vast, poorly studied deep sea, with the consequence that environmental management decisions must be made for data-poor seafloor regions. Habitat classification can support marine spatial planning and inform decision-making processes in such areas. We present a regional, top–down, broad-scale, seafloor-habitat classification for the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCZ), an area targeted for future polymetallic nodule mining in abyssal waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Our classification uses non-hierarchical, k-medoids clustering to combine environmental correlates of faunal distributions in the region. The classification uses topographic variables, particulate organic carbon flux to the seafloor, and is the first to use nodule abundance as a habitat variable. Twenty-four habitat classes are identified, with large expanses of abyssal plain and smaller classes with varying topography, food supply, and substrata. We then assess habitat representativity of the current network of protected areas (called Areas of Particular Environmental Interest) in the CCZ. Several habitat classes with high nodule abundance are common in mining exploration claims, but currently receive little to no protection in APEIs. There are several large unmanaged areas containing high nodule abundance on the periphery of the CCZ, as well as smaller unmanaged areas within the central CCZ, that could be considered for protection from mining to improve habitat representativity and safeguard regional biodiversity.

Marine reserve benefits and recreational fishing yields: The winners and the losers

Kayal M, Cigala M, Cambra E, Soulat N, Mercader M, Lebras A, Ivanoff P, Sébési L, Lassus-Debat A, Hartmann V, et al. Marine reserve benefits and recreational fishing yields: The winners and the losers Belgrano A. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2020 ;15(12):e0237685. Available from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0237685
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Marine reserves constitute effective tools for preserving fish stocks and associated human benefits. However, not all reserves perform equally, and predicting the response of marine communities to management actions in the long run is challenging. Our decadal-scale survey of recreational fishing yields at France’s 45-year old Cerbère-Banyuls marine reserve indicated significant protection benefits, with 40–50% higher fishing yields per unit effort in the partial-protection zone of the reserve (where fishing is permitted but at a lower level) than in surrounding non-reserve areas. Over the period 2005–2014, catch per unit effort (CPUE) declined both inside and outside the reserve, while weight per unit effort (WPUE) increased by 131% inside and decreased by 60% outside. Different CPUE and WPUE trajectories among fish families indicated changing catch assemblages, with yields increasing for the family most valued by fisheries, Sparidae (the ecological winners). However, reserve benefits were restricted to off-shore fishermen (the social winners), as on-shore yields were ~4 times lower and declining, even inside the reserve. Our study illustrates how surveys of recreational fishing yields can help evaluate the effectiveness of marine protected areas for key social and ecological protagonists. We show that, more than four decades after its establishment, fishing efficiencies at the historical Cerbère-Banyuls marine reserve are still changing, but benefits in terms of catch abundance, weight, and composition remain predominantly restricted to off-shore fishermen. Further regulations appear necessary to guarantee that conservation strategies equitably benefit societal groups.

Public perceptions of ocean health and marine protection: Drivers of support for Oregon's marine reserves

Manson P, Nielsen-Pincus M, Granek EF, Swearingen TC. Public perceptions of ocean health and marine protection: Drivers of support for Oregon's marine reserves. Ocean & Coastal Management [Internet]. 2021 ;201:105480. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0964569120303872?dgcid=raven_sd_search_email
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Over the past several decades marine conservation policy has supported the implementation of protected areas in ocean and coastal environments to restrict some elements of human use for ecological benefits. The appropriate extent of protection and the allowable uses are often the subject of public debate about marine protected area policy. Local community dynamics around marine protected area designation and management have been the subject of much ocean and coastal management social science research. However, broader public opinions and attitudes about marine protected areas are not well understood and are critical for managers seeking to maintain their public trust obligations in environmental management. This paper provides a model for understanding the attitudes and beliefs that foster public support for or opposition to marine protections. We explored the relationships between awareness, attitudes and beliefs towards coastal and marine resource issues and uses, and demographics among a sample of Oregon, USA residents (n = 459), and tested their influence on support for expanding Oregon's recently established marine reserves. We found that Oregonians have relatively low familiarity with Oregon's marine reserve system, but that familiarity did not influence public support for Oregon's marine reserves. Instead public support was lower among coastal residents and those with positive attitudes towards commercial fisheries, and higher for those concerned with the ecological integrity of Oregon's ocean and supportive of some limits to human uses of the ocean. Our findings highlight the need for managers to engage both coastal communities and the general public to make a case for the value of marine protected areas in safeguarding the public trust.

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