A marine protected area based wholly upon ecological science may represent the ideal MPA for conservation biologists. Seldom, however, are MPAs designated on a purely ecological basis. More often, MPA designations represent the desire of decisionmakers to protect an area for aesthetic or political reasons. Or they incorporate a range of social and economic considerations -- like minimizing economic impacts on fishers -- that can compromise an MPA's "ideal" ecological design, often for the purpose of gaining support from stakeholders.
Frequently this results in disagreement about the role of science in stakeholder processes.
In the state of California (USA), a process is ongoing to designate a series of marine reserves around the Channel Islands archipelago. The process, designed by a multistakeholder group, has been advised by two panels: a science advisory panel, made up of natural scientists, and a socioeconomic advisory panel, consisting of economists and other social scientists. Set to conclude this month (May), the process has been intended to heed ecological and socioeconomic concerns in generating a consensus plan.