The success or failure of a marine protected area often rests on socioeconomic considerations. Humans affect, and are affected by, the natural environment, and society must bear the benefits and costs of marine resource management. Without consideration of social and economic impacts, effective planning and management may be compromised.
Editor's note: Bill Ballantine, author of the following perspective piece, is a marine biologist and senior lecturer at the Leigh Marine Laboratory, University of Auckland. Ballantine has advocated the concept of no-take marine reserves since the 1960s, and has been instrumental in the designation of several reserves in New Zealand waters. He was awarded a Goldman Prize in 1996 for his grassroots efforts in support of marine reserves.
Victoria passes MPA legislation
In June, the Australian state of Victoria passed legislation to designate a representative system of no-take MPAs covering roughly 5% of the state's waters. The system will include 13 marine national parks and 11 smaller marine sanctuaries, to take effect November 2002.
Commercial fishermen sometimes suffer financial losses due to the designation of new no-take marine reserves. Their catches may decline, at least in the short term, while trip costs - affected by having to travel to farther fishing holes - may rise. This prospect can lead to opposition to new reserves from the fishing sector.
Reform of EU fisheries policy to include closures
For MPAs, scientific research on the effect of management policies is central to measuring overall success. Most managers, however, lack the funding to conduct such studies in-house. As a result, they must rely on external researchers - with their own interests and priorities - to conduct the work.
For a scientist's view on what researchers look for when considering MPA study sites, MPA News interviewed Callum Roberts of the University of York (UK). Roberts has conducted fish censuses at several MPAs in the Caribbean, and is author of multiple papers and reports on the effect of marine reserves on fish populations (MPA News 3:6).
MPA News: What criteria do you consider when searching for a field site to study?
For the MPA manager facing a future of tight government budgets and increasing program demands, the search for additional funding becomes an essential task. While there are various self-financing mechanisms from which to choose - e.g., user fees and income from associated commercial operations (MPA News 2:8) - there is another option available: soliciting donor organizations for funding.