Marine protected areas (MPAs) are among the most widely accepted methods of marine management. MPAs are not, however, always placed such that they can maximize impact on conservation and livelihoods. Current MPA guidelines fall short in focusing primarily on biophysical criteria, overlooking interrelated socioeconomic factors. We identified 32 socioeconomic factors that influence whether MPA placement has an impact on biodiversity and/or livelihoods and weighted the quality of evidence using a novel “Evidence for Impact” Score. Results suggest that stakeholder engagement, poverty, population density, and strong leadership have most potential to positively impact biodiversity and/or livelihoods, but the direction of impact (i.e., positive or negative) can be context-dependent. We found a generally poor evidence base for impact evaluation of socioeconomic factors: though some factors were highly cited, few studies actually evaluate impact. Results indicate the need for a more interdisciplinary approach to MPA placement and more empirical studies that assess impact.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly being used as conservation tools in the marine environment. Success of MPAs depends upon sound scientific design and societal support. Studies that have assessed societal preferences for temperate MPAs have generally done it without considering the existence of discrete groups of opinion within society and have largely considered offshore and deep-sea areas. This study quantifies societal preferences and economic support for coastal MPAs in Wales (UK) and assesses the presence of distinct groups of preference for MPA management, through a latent class choice experiment approach. Results show a general support for the protection of the marine environment in the form of MPAs and that society is willing to bear the costs derived from conservation. Despite a general opposition toward MPAs where human activities are completely excluded, there is some indication that three classes of preferences within society can be established regarding the management of potentially sea-floor damaging activities. This type of approach allows for the distinction between those respondents with positive preferences for particular types of management from those who experience disutility. We conclude that insights from these types of analyses can be used by policy-makers to identify those MPA designs and management combinations most likely to be supported by particular sectors of society.
This guide provides evidence-based advice on how to use the governance of marine protected areas to promote conservation and share sustainable marine resources. It has been developed using marine protected area (MPA) case studies from around the world. People who can benefit from this guide include planners, decision makers and practitioners engaged in marine protected area development and implementation, or those who have a general interest in protected area governance. It provides a governance framework and highlights key issues to address specific governance situations. It can be used as part of an adaptive management cycle. The case studies (page 12-13) highlight different governance approaches, challenges faced, and solutions implemented to achieve conservation objectives. Some marine protected areas are more effective than others, but they all highlight areas for improvement and indications of what could be implemented to enhance their effectiveness. All MPAs display unique characteristics and face their own complex combination of challenges. There is no "one size fits all" solution. This guidance recognizes this and provides a flexible approach to governance that can be relevant to any MPA and used on an ongoing basis. The case studies cover a variety of MPA types, including notake, multiple-use, small, large, remote, private, governmentled, decentralized and community-led MPAs. The global and varied examples used to support this guidance have demonstrated and highlighted the differences in the various roles that are taken within the governance and management of MPAs, between men and women as well as between different classes and ethnicities. These differences are identified across a variety of regions and cultural contexts, where there is not always equal opportunity to voice concerns and influence decisions and the benefits from protected areas are not equally distributed, frequently resulting in marginalization (Box 1). Global in scope, it recognizes the essential aspects of gender, class and ethnicity-related equality, as fundamental factors to achieving sustainable development goals and delivering effective and equitable governance of MPAs. This should be taken into account for all MPA governance projects to provide equality across all gender class and ethnicityrelated characteristics.
The Indo-Pacific small island states characteristically have relatively small land areas but large maritime zones that include biodiversity hotspots, fragile ecosystems and unique habitats affected by anthropogenic impacts and natural pressures. Whilst there are differences between these nations in terms of geography, history, and politico-legal systems, the majority are developing countries with limited technical and financial resources to implement laws for marine conservation and management. Despite these limitations all the small island states have laws for marine protected areas (MPAs) in one form or another. Because these countries also rely heavily on the coastal zone and marine resources in terms of subsistence and livelihoods for local communities, the extent to which the law accommodates civil society interests, and involvement in decision-making and management, is critical. Although some studies have explored law and policy relevant to MPAs in individual countries, rarely have countries across the Indo-Pacific region been compared. By doing so, different approaches and success stories can be shared, as well as legislative gaps and challenges addressed. This paper outlines the legal frameworks that provide for the establishment and management of MPAs in a selection of small island states across the Indo Pacific. The laws have been comparatively analysed to demonstrate the extent to which they provide for public participation and community-based management. The results are presented together with lessons learnt and recommendations made for future legal developments. The article, therefore, contributes to the growing body of literature on MPA governance, marine management in island States, and how to advance social sustainability.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) represent the main tool for halting the loss of marine biodiversity. However, there is increasing evidence concerning their limited capacity to reduce or eliminate some threats even within their own boundaries. Here, we analysed a Europe-wide dataset comprising 31,579 threats recorded in 1692 sites of the European Union's Natura 2000 conservation network. Focusing specifically on threats related to marine species and habitats, we found that fishing and outdoor activities were the most widespread threats reported within MPA boundaries, although some spatial heterogeneity in the distribution of threats was apparent. Our results clearly demonstrate the need to reconsider current management plans, standardise monitoring approaches and reporting, refine present threat assessments and improve knowledge of their spatial patterns within and outside MPAs in order to improve conservation capacity and outcomes.
The effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on the conservation of species, habitats, and processes has been largely studied. However, although parasites play a key role in the ecology of marine ecosystems, the effect of MPAs on host‐parasite relationships remains poorly understood. In order to characterize prevalence and host specificity of the widely distributed parasitic isopod Anilocra physodes, as well as the effect of MPAs on these parameters, a study based on visual census of fishes (repeated at two different study periods) and angling was conducted in the Alboran Sea (Western Mediterranean). Despite the wide diversity of potential hosts, A. physodes was only found associated with the sparid fish Lithognathus mormyrus. A significant relationship between the length of the host and the parasite was detected. While similar host densities were recorded inside and outside the MPA, parasitic prevalence was significantly lower inside the MPA. These differences among MPAs and non‐MPAs in parasite prevalence and host availability, as well as the strong host specificity pattern, were consistent throughout time. Anthropogenic pressures, host size, and cleaning interactions are proposed to be potential factors involved in the observed lower parasitization levels inside the MPA. This study highlights that the protection status of marine areas can drive constant changes in parasitic prevalence.
The world’s protected area network is constantly changing, and the dynamics of this network are tracked using the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). This database evolved from a list of protected areas first mandated by the United Nations in 1959, and it now informs the key indicators that track progress toward area-based conservation targets. In this capacity, the WDPA illuminates the role of protected areas in advancing a range of international objectives and agreements, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite ongoing challenges in maintaining such a complex global dataset, the WDPA is continuously improving and taking advantage of new technology, making it widely applicable to diverse users, including those in sectors far from its original intended audience. In the future, the WDPA will expand to include areas that contribute to conservation and sustainable use outside of formal protected areas, and will increasingly link to other key global datasets. These innovations in the way the WDPA is managed and used will deliver vital knowledge to support a sustainable future for biodiversity and people globally.
Marine Protected Areas have become a major tool for the conservation of marine biodiversity and resources. Yet our understanding of their efficacy is often limited because it is measured for a few biological components, typically top predators or species of commercial interest. To achieve conservation targets, marine protected areas can benefit from ecosystem-based approaches. Within such an approach, documenting the variation of plankton indicators and their covariation with climate is crucial as plankton represent the base of the food webs. With this perspective, we sought to document the variations in the emerging properties of the plankton to better understand the dynamics of the pelagic fishes, mammals and seabirds that inhabit the region. For the first time, we analyze the temporal variations of the entire plankton community of one of the widest European protected areas, the Parc Naturel Marin de la Mer d’Iroise. We used data from several sampling transects carried out in the Iroise Sea from 2011 to 2015 to explore the seasonal and inter-annual variations of phytoplankton and mesozooplankton abundance, composition and size, as well as their covariation with abiotic variables, through multiple multivariate analyses. Overall, our observations are coherent with the plankton dynamics that have been observed in other regions of the North-East Atlantic. We found that both phytoplankton and zooplankton show consistent seasonal patterns in taxonomic composition and size structure but also display inter-annual variations. The spring bloom was associated with a higher contribution of large chain-forming diatoms compared to nanoflagellates, the latter dominating in fall and summer. Dinoflagellates show marked inter-annual variations in their relative contribution. The community composition of phytoplankton has a large impact on the mesozooplankton together with the distance to the coast. The size structure of the mesozooplankton community, examined through the ratio of small to large copepods, also displays marked seasonal patterns. We found that larger copepods (members of the Calanidae) are more abundant in spring than in summer and fall. We propose several hypotheses to explain the observed temporal patterns and we underline their importance for understanding the dynamics of other components of the food-web (such as sardines). Our study is a first step toward the inclusion of the planktonic compartment into the planning of the resources and diversity conservation within the Marine Protected Area.
Protected areas are a fundamental mechanism for conserving global biodiversity. Given limited conservation funds and shortfalls in funding for existing protected area management needs, a critical question is: should countries and states spend new funds on purchasing more land or managing existing protected areas to an acceptable standard? We used a non-spatial dynamic landscape model to compare the relative importance of expansion of protected areas versus improved protected area management in diverse contexts. We provide guidance on how to allocate funding across these two actions, and the order in which these actions should be prioritized. We discover that, in contrast with spending patterns, which focus on expansion rather than management, management is often the better first investment. The relative priority of expansion and management is determined by observable factors: the relative costs of the two actions and rates of degradation in protected and unprotected areas. Importantly, regardless of these factors, the final recommended action is always to split the budget across expansion and management such that there is adequate money for management. This highlights that, while our existing protected areas are an important asset, increased investment in management is essential to maximize their potential to protect biodiversity.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) provide multiple conservation benefits, thus raising the question of how good and consistent they are at their roles. Here, we quantified three components, namely, diversity, biomass, and other relevant variables, in numerous protected and unprotected areas across four marine ecoregions in south-western Europe. We created a “global conservation status index” (CSIglobal) as the sum of CSIdiversity, CSIbiomass, and CSIrelevant. We then tested whether CSI and its three components varied as a function of protection and marine ecoregion. MPA efficiency, defined as the effect size of protection on CSIglobal, was unreliable and varied with geography. CSIbiomass and CSIrelevant contributed to the unreliability of MPA efficiency, while CSIdiversity was reliable. CSIbiomass showed the major efficiency in protected areas (60%). Biomass of threatened species was the single largest variable that contributed to MPA efficiency. Our easy-to-use approach can identify high- and low-efficient MPAs and help to clarify their actual roles.