Marine reserves are an important management tool for conserving local biodiversity and protecting fragile ecosystems such as seagrass that provide significant ecological functions and services to people and the marine environment. With humans placing ever-growing pressure on seagrass habitats, marine reserves also provide an important reference from which changes to seagrass and their ecological assemblages may be assessed. After eight years of protection of seagrass beds (Posidonia australis) in no-take marine reserves (Sanctuary Zones) within the Jervis Bay Marine Park (New South Wales, Australia; zoned in 2002), we aimed to assess what changes may have occurred and assess continuing change through time in fish assemblages within these seagrass meadows. Using baited remote underwater videos (BRUVs), we sampled seagrass fish assemblages at three locations in no-take zones and five locations in fished zones three times from 2010 to 2013. Overall, we observed a total of 2615 individuals from 40 fish species drawn from 24 families. We detected no differences in total fish abundance, diversity, or assemblage composition between management zones, although we observed a significant increase in Haletta semifasciata, a locally targeted fish species, in no-take marine reserves compared with fished areas. Fish assemblages in seagrass varied greatly amongst times and locations. Several species varied in relative abundance greatly over months and years, whilst others had consistently greater relative abundances at specific locations. We discuss the potential utility of marine reserves covering seagrass habitats and the value of baseline data from which future changes to seagrass fish populations may be measured.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have emerged as a valuable tool in biodiversity conservation and fisheries management. However, the effective use of MPAs depends upon the successful integration of social and ecological information. We investigated relationships between the social system structure of coastal communities alongside biological data describing the status and trends in fish communities around Yap, Micronesia. Traditional marine tenure made Yap an ideal place to investigate the underlying principles of social-ecological systems, as communities own and manage spatially-defined coastal resources. Analysis of social survey data revealed three social regimes, which were linked to corresponding gradients of ecological outcomes. Communities with decentralized decision-making and a preference for communal forms of fishing had the greatest ecological outcomes, while communities lacking any form of leadership were linked to poor ecological outcomes. Interestingly, communities with strong top-down leadership were shown to have variable ecological outcomes, depending on the presence of key groups or individuals. We last investigated whether social perception could successfully predict the status of fish assemblages within non-managed reefs. Several biological metrics of fish assemblages within non-managed areas were significantly predicted by a gradient of human access, suggesting social perception could not predict the growing human footprint over the study period. These findings highlight the potentially overlooked role that community-oriented decision-making structures and fishing methods could play in successful conservation efforts, and the limitations of perception data. Policies that promote communal marine resource use offer a novel approach to improve fisheries management and promote social-ecological resilience.
This paper reviews literature relating to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and human well-being. It finds that explicit studies on human well-being from MPAs are limited and empirical studies quantifying these relationships are rare. Most MPA papers, including those examining MPA effectiveness, focus on just a few aspects of well-being in the context of a sub-set of stakeholders, and consider only a single type of MPA. They mostly focus on conventional objective measures that are not comprehensive or systematically selected. This review argues for a systematic and integrative framework to ensure future MPA assessments are equipped to capture MPAs’ contributions to human well-being more adequately and comprehensively. Such a framework can also allow for cross-MPA comparisons that can capture differences in well-being across different types of MPAs, and information gained can be useful for MPA practitioners and policy makers, particularly in reaching current global targets, such as the CBD, Aichi Target 11.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are effective resource management and conservation measures, but their success is often hindered by non-compliant activities such as poaching. Understanding the risk factors and spatial patterns of poaching is therefore crucial for efficient law enforcement. Here, we conducted explanatory and predictive modelling of poaching from recreational fishers within no-take zones of Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) using Boosted Regression Trees (BRT). Combining patrol effort data, observed distribution of reported incidents, and spatially-explicit environmental and human risk factors, we modeled the occurrence probability of poaching incidents and mapped poaching risk at fine-scale. Our results: (i) show that fishing attractiveness, accessibility and fishing capacity play a major role in shaping the spatial patterns of poaching; (ii) revealed key interactions among these factors as well as tipping points beyond which poaching risk increased or decreased markedly; and (iii) highlight gaps in patrol effort that could be filled for improved resource allocation. The approach developed through this study provide a novel way to quantify the relative influence of multiple interacting factors in shaping poaching risk, and hold promises for replication across a broad range of marine or terrestrial settings.
This chapter analyzes the contribution of Participative Management Plans (PMP) for the identification of ecosystem services and the protection of conservation objects from the multiple-use protected coastal marine areas (MU-CMPA). The objective of these areas is to conserve the natural capital and cultural patrimony without restricting traditional productive activities such as fishing, mollusks and algae extraction, and energy resources. There are ten MU-CMPAs areas in Chile, but their implementation has been slow and 14 years after the first areas were legally declared, some of them still do not have management plans. Here we analyze the experiences of Isla Grande de Atacama MU-CMPA (MU-CMPA IGA) in the north of Chile, including the complexities of implementing PMPs and the challenges and opportunities of generating an ecosystem perspective in the management plans for protected areas. Administrative problems and conflicts of interest have worn social relationships generating little community participation regarding the design of a management plan. Nevertheless, there is a consensus among local social actors about the benefits of the ecosystems of the MU-CMPA IGA due to the high economic and social values given by the community to the services provided by the area.
Biological invasions are one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss worldwide. Given that eradication of invasive species is not usually a practical option, conservationists may attempt to limit their impacts through the designation and management of protected areas. Here, we investigate the effect of marine protected areas on the habitat suitability of an invasive species, the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus). By modelling its environmental niche space in the Baltic Sea, we demonstrated that gobies prefer shallow, warmer waters, sheltered from significant wave action. They are more likely to be found near areas of intense shipping, this being their primary method of long-distance dispersal. Comparison of the goby's occurrences inside/outside protected areas indicated that suitable habitats within protected areas are more resistant to the round goby's invasion compared to adjacent unprotected areas, however the opposite is true for suboptimal habitats. This has important ecosystem management implications with marine conservation areas providing mitigation measures to control the spread of round goby in its optimal habitats in the Baltic Sea environment. Being subjected to reduced human impacts, native species within protected areas may be more numerous and diverse, helping to resist invasive species incursion.
This paper focuses on local conflicts over marine conservation in southeastern Tanzania. It draws from ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2014 and 2015 in a coastal village located inside the boundaries of a marine park. The paper first examines why villagers have come to contest the park, and subsequently outlines the various forms of resistance they employ to mobilize their opposition. Some people are willing to protest openly, as evidenced by the destruction of the park's gatehouse office and directory signs in 2013. However, an immediate violent response to such acts from state paramilitary forces has instilled fear in villagers. The swift crackdown, coupled with ongoing surveillance from ranger patrols, has engendered a degree of discipline in some people. Rather than risking further repercussions, many villagers engage in ‘everyday forms of resistance’ through subtle acts of noncompliance to the conservation regulations. These practices are entangled with material benefits and moral statements about customary rights to resources. They may also facilitate political mobility by destabilizing conservation management, while simultaneously avoiding open confrontation with governing authorities. I refer to this overall process as the (un)making of marine park subjects.
Global threats to ocean biodiversity have driven international targets calling for a worldwide network of marine protected areas (MPAs). In line with these targets, the Commission on the Conservation of Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has been working towards adopting MPAs in the Southern Ocean. CCAMLR is considered a leader in science-based management and has been guiding the way on international MPAs. The west Antarctic Peninsula, threatened by climate change and industrial fishing, has been a priority area for MPA planning in CCAMLR. Since 2011, Chile and Argentina have worked to develop an Antarctic Peninsula MPA proposal which they submitted to CCAMLR in 2018. We use the Antarctic Peninsula MPA proposal process as a case study for understanding the science-policy interface in this international conservation regime. Specifically, we use existing frameworks for co-production of actionable science to examine the Antarctic Peninsula MPA process. We show that the Antarctic Peninsula MPA Proponents engaged in a highly collaborative, transparent, and science-based process which exemplified best practices for actionable science and co-production. Despite following best practices for actionable science, the MPA proposal has not yet been adopted, largely due to political barriers. We elaborate on the importance of co-production of actionable science and its effectiveness as well as to limitations in the Southern Ocean and beyond. Finally, we highlight that science-policy best practices may not be sufficient to drive consensus and the ultimate need for political will in the decision-making underpinning MPA designation in the Southern Ocean.
The UK has adopted a feature-based approach to MPA designation and monitoring to meet international and national obligations. Despite operational challenges, this approach is considered key to optimising conservation outcomes whilst making efficient use of limited resources. Drawing on lessons learnt from the UK's MPA Programme we discuss the practical issues which arise from: i) effective selection of conservation features identified as surrogates for biodiversity, ii) adequacy of feature representation across the MPA network and iii) implementation of quantifiable conservation objectives and ability to monitor progress in relation to them [4,5]. There is recognition that high-level feature surrogates adopted for MPA designation may not adequately represent the full range of biodiversity present across UK marine habitats, and several of these features are indiscernible using acoustic mapping techniques. This results in our inability to accurately map their distribution and extent. Additionally, monitoring progress in relation to conservation targets is hampered by a lack of reliable indicators to assess change in their ecological status. Recommendations for the optimisation of MPA designation and monitoring using a systematic, evidence based approach are provided. These include: 1) flexibility in feature classifications to allow additional features to be designated as required, 2) communication of limitations in the evidence base to enable informed use in adaptive management decisions, 3) use of innovative technologies to more accurately map habitat features and 4) development of wider UK and regional sea scale monitoring programmes which align with an ecosystem based approach to the ongoing assessment of marine biodiversity.