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Marine Protected Areas: Static Boundaries in a Changing World


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Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been identified as one of the most effective tools for conserving marine ecosystems. While the ecological benefits of MPAs are well established, less emphasis has been placed on assessing socioeconomic benefits. Despite these benefits, a majority of existing MPAs are not meeting their objectives. MPAs must be designed and managed specifically to address climate change and other stressors and must be managed adaptively if they are to effectively conserve marine ecosystems and support the needs of human communities.
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Mcleod Elizabeth (2013) Marine Protected Areas: Static Boundaries in a Changing World. In: Levin S.A. (ed.)
Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, second edition, Volume 5, pp. 94-104. Waltham, MA: Academic Press.
© 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Marine Protected Areas: Static Boundaries in a Changing World
Elizabeth Mcleod, The Nature Conservancy, Austin, TX, USA
r2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Adaptive management Integration of design,
management, and monitoring to systematically test
assumptions to adapt and learn.
Connectivity Natural linkage between marine habitats
which occur via larval dispersal and the movements of
adults and juveniles.
Ecosystem-based management (EBM) Environmental
management approach that recognizes the full array of
interactions within an ecosystem, including humans, rather
than considering single issues, species, or ecosystem services
in isolation. EBM focuses on cumulative impacts; multiple
objectives; embracing change; linkages between species,
ecosystems, societies, economies, and institutions; and
learning and adaptation.
Ecosystem function Physical, chemical, and biological
processes or attributes that contribute to the self-
maintenance of an ecosystem (e.g., nutrient cycling,
primary productivity).
Ecosystem resilience Ability of an ecosystem to maintain
key functions and processes in the face of stresses or
pressures, either by resisting or adapting to change; resilient
systems are characterized as adaptable, flexible, and able to
deal with change and uncertainty.
Ecosystem services Benefits people obtain from
ecosystems; include the provision of food, water, timber,
fiber, and other resources; the regulation of floods, disease,
wastes, and water quality; the support of cultural practices,
including recreation, religion, and art; and the maintenance
of biological processes through such phenomena as soil
formation, photosynthesis, nutrient cycling, and so on.
Ecosystem ‘‘goods’’ include food, medicinal plants,
construction materials, tourism and recreation, and wild
genes for domestic plants and animals.
Marine protected area (MPA) Clearly defined
geographical space recognized, dedicated, and managed
through legal or other effective means to achieve the long-
term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem
services and cultural values.
Marine reserve Subset of an MPA and an area of ocean
completely protected from all extractive and destructive
MPA network Collection of individual MPAs operating
cooperatively and synergistically – at various spatial scales
and with a range of protection levels – to fulfill ecological
aims more effectively and comprehensively than individual
sites could alone.
No-take area Marine area that is permanently or
temporarily completely closed for any form of extraction,
and where no disturbance of any kind is allowed.
Humans depend on the oceans for food security, shoreline
protection, recreational opportunities, cultural heritage, cli-
mate regulation, and other services. Despite their tremendous
value, the health of the world’s oceans has continued to
decline due to human activities such as overfishing, pollution,
and climate change (Jackson et al., 2001;Worm et al.,
2006;Halpern et al., 2008a). These impacts are leading to
ecosystem collapses in all the major coastal and ocean regions
of the world (Wilkinson, 2004;Hughes et al., 2005;Jackson,
Over the last several decades, about one-third of coastal and
marine habitats, such as mangroves, seagrasses, coral reefs, and
salt marshes, have been lost due to human activities (Va liela
et al., 2001;Wilkinson, 2004;Duarte et al., 2008;Waycott et al.,
2009;Spalding et al.,2010). More than half of the world’s
fisheries stocks are fully exploited and producing catches at
or close to their maximum sustainable limits, and more than
25% are overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion
(FAO, 2007). Fundamental changes to ecosystem structure,
such as changes in species diversity, population abundance,
size structure, sex ratios, habitat structure, trophic dynamics,
biogeochemistry, and biological interactions, are occurring
worldwide (Lubchenco et al., 2003). These changes affect
marine ecosystem function and have critical implications for
people that depend on these ecosystems for goods and services
(Lubchenco et al.,1995).
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been identified as one
of the most effective tools for conserving marine ecosystems
(Kelleher, 1999;Palumbi, 2003). A number of terms are used,
often interchangeably, to refer to marine areas that are pro-
tected by spatially explicit restrictions, including MPAs, marine
reserves, closed areas, harvest refuges, and sanctuaries (Agardi,
2000). In this chapter, an MPA is a ‘‘clearly defined geo-
graphical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through
legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term con-
servation of nature with associated ecosystem services and
cultural values’’ (Dudley, 2008). A marine reserve is a subset of
an MPA and is defined here as ‘‘an area of the ocean com-
pletely protected from all extractive and destructive activities’’
(Lubchenco et al., 2003).
MPAs may include areas with multiple uses (e.g., fishing,
tourism), no-take areas and reserves, or restriction of certain
areas to a specific use (e.g., local fishing). MPAs range in size
from small marine parks designed to protect endangered or
threatened species, unique habitat, or cultural or historical sites
to large reserves designed to achieve a range of conservation,
Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, Volume 5
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social, and economic objectives encompassing different types
of protection (Agardi, 2000). Ecological objectives include
protection of critical habitats (spawning aggregations, nursery
grounds, areas of high biodiversity, and migration routes),
maintenance of ecosystem function, and species protection.
Socioeconomic objectives include the protection of com-
mercially valuable species, cultural and historic sites, recre-
ation and tourism sites, and sites important for education or
research (Salm et al., 2000). If MPAs are well designed and
managed, they have the potential to protect and in some cases
restore coastal and marine ecosystems and support com-
munities that depend on these ecosystems.
MPAs are most effective when combined with other man-
agement tools such as integrated coastal management, marine
spatial planning (MSP), and fisheries management (Salm
et al., 2006;Dudley, 2008). MPAs are vulnerable to activities
outside their boundaries (e.g., pollution and unsustainable
fishing) that can affect species and ecosystem functions within
protected areas (Kaiser, 2005). Therefore, integrated coastal
management to control land-based threats such as pollution
and sedimentation and other forms of resource management
such as fishery management tools (e.g., catch limits, gear
restrictions, regulations regarding fishing grounds, fishing
seasons; Kaiser, 2005;Keller et al., 2009) are necessary to
support the effectiveness of MPAs. MPAs may also be more
effective when combined with traditional marine manage-
ment approaches (McClanahan et al., 2006).
Systems Approach to Marine Conservation
Conservation and fisheries management efforts have evolved
over the last decade toward managing systems as opposed to
species or specific habitats and managing cumulative impacts.
These approaches have been referred to as ecosystem-based
management (EBM) and ecosystem approach to fisheries
(Rosenberg and McLeod, 2005;Levin and Lubchenco, 2008;
Palumbi et al., 2008;FAO, 2010). In these approaches,
humans are recognized as critical parts of dynamic ecosystems,
and the inclusion of the human dimension is now seen as an
essential component of effective conservation. Fisheries man-
agement has shifted from a focus on maximum sustainable
yield of individual species at a single scale to multispecies
stock assessments at multiple scales (Pikitch, 2004). EBM
supports ecological processes that maintain resources, recog-
nizing the diverse ecological roles of species and habitats at
multiple scales (Graham et al., 2003). MPAs protect geo-
graphical areas, species, and their biophysical environments
and thus can offer an ecosystem-based approach to conser-
vation or fisheries management (Lubchenco et al., 2003).
Evolution of MPA Definitions
The shift toward a multiscale, integrated human–ecological
system, and process-oriented perspective (Hughes et al., 2005)
is evident in the changing views of MPAs and the call for
networks of MPAs worldwide. In 1999, an MPA was defined
as ‘‘any area of the intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with
its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical, and
cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other
effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environ-
ment’’ (Kelleher, 1999). In 2008, the World Conservation
Union defined an MPA as a ‘‘clearly defined geographical
space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or
other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of
nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values’’
(Dudley, 2008). The explicit reference to conservation for the
benefit of people (ecosystem services and cultural values) is
highlighted in this latest definition.
Evolution of MPA Objectives
Conservation managers have been called on to consider pro-
tection of ecosystem function, structure, and integrity in
addition to species and habitat protection (Agardy and Staub,
2006). There has been a shift from the conservation of com-
mercially important species to management of functional
groups (i.e., collections of species that perform a similar
function, regardless of their taxonomic affinities) supporting
processes and maintenance of ecosystem services (e.g., fish-
eries) (Hughes et al., 2005). The view of no-take areas
as primarily fisheries management tools has evolved to in-
clude other conservation objectives, including managing bio-
diversity, trophic structure and function, and ecosystem
resilience (Hughes et al., 2005). This shift toward managing
ecosystem structure, function, and services emphasizes the
importance of ecological roles and species interactions (in-
cluding humans) for maintaining ecosystem resilience. The
effectiveness of MPAs is now evaluated based on their impacts
on local communities, in addition to ecological impacts. In
addition, integrated studies are developing that assess how
ecological performance of reserves is related to both socio-
economic characteristics in coastal communities and reserve
design (Pollnac et al.,2010). The results of such studies
are useful for highlighting the complexities around human
dimensions of marine reserves and informing MPA design and
Ecosystem resilience refers to the ability of an ecosystem to
maintain key functions and processes in the face of stresses or
pressures, either by resisting or adapting to change (Holling,
1973;Nystro¨m and Folke, 2001). Resilient systems are char-
acterized as adaptable, flexible, and able to deal with change
and uncertainty (Hughes et al., 2005); thus resilience has been
identified as a critical component of MPA network design and
management. Designing and managing networks for resilience
provides MPAs with the best chance to recover from or with-
stand environmental fluctuations or unexpected catastrophes
caused by climate change and other human impacts (West and
Salm, 2003;Mcleod et al., 2009).
Evolution of MPA Networks
The conservation community and government agencies have
called for the establishment of networks of MPAs worldwide.
An MPA network is defined as a ‘‘collection of individual
MPAs operating cooperatively and synergistically, at various
spatial scales, and with a range of protection levels, in order to
fulfill ecological aims more effectively and comprehensively
Marine Protected Areas: Static Boundaries in a Changing World 95
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than individual sites could alone’’ (WCPA/IUCN, 2007). MPA
networks have also been defined as a ‘‘network of people
managing the components of individual MPAs and promoting
the network’s viability and longevity’’ (Dudley, 2008).
Individual small MPAs may not be effective at conserving
biodiversity, fish and invertebrate populations, and the com-
munities that depend on them. Single MPAs large enough to
sustain populations and habitats are often impractical due to
economic, social, and political constraints (Dudley, 2008).
Networks of MPAs have been proposed to help reduce socio-
economic impacts while maintaining conservation and fish-
eries benefits (PISCO, 2007). Networks are also important for
maintaining ecosystem processes and connectivity and sup-
porting ecosystem resilience by spreading the risk of reduced
viability of a habitat or community type following a large-scale
disturbance or management failures (Keller et al., 2009). The
commitment to the establishment of global networks of
MPAs has been demonstrated at international meetings such
as the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002,
the World Parks Congress in 2003, and the Convention on
Biological Diversity in 2004. The scaling up of individual
MPAs to networks demonstrates a systems approach to marine
conservation because it allows for the protection of species
and habitats in addition to ecological processes, structure, and
Evolution of MSP
Over the last decade, marine spatial planning (MSP) has
been increasingly recognized as a critical tool to achieve EBM
(Douvere, 2008). MSP provides an integrated planning
framework that moves away from sectoral management to
address multiple objectives related to achieving economic and
ecological sustainability and the need to reduce conflicts in
marine environment (Agardi et al.,2011). MSP has been de-
fined as a ‘‘process of analyzing and allocating parts of the
three-dimensional marine spaces to specific uses, to achieve
ecological, economic and social objectives that are usually
specified through the political process; the MSP process usu-
ally results in a comprehensive plan or vision for a marine
region’’ (Ehler and Douvere, 2007). More broadly, the purpose
of MSP is to balance demands for development with the need
to protect the environment (Douvere, 2008).
Potential benefits of MSP include a holistic approach that
addresses social, cultural, economic, and environmental ob-
jectives and thus achieve sustainable development; better in-
tegration of marine objectives (both between policies and
between different planning levels); improved site selection for
development or conservation; a more strategic and proactive
approach that delivers long-term benefits; management co-
ordination at the scale of ecosystems as well as political jur-
isdictions; reduced conflicts among uses in the marine area;
and reduced risk of marine activities damaging marine eco-
systems, including improved consideration of cumulative
effects (Gilliland and Laffoley, 2008;Foley et al.,2010).
MSP has been applied to help manage the multiple uses of
marine space, particularly in areas where conflicts exist among
users and the environment. MSP is central to the management
strategy of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and has also been
applied in other marine areas such as the Florida Keys,
Channel Islands, Wadden Sea, North Sea, Irish Sea, and Baltic
Sea, among others. MSP is not intended to replace MPAs.
MPAs are still recognized as an important tool for managing
the marine environment, but they should be considered in the
wider context of an MSP strategy that balances the MPAs with
economic, social, and biodiversity objectives. By integrating
MPA planning in broader MSP and ocean zoning efforts, MSP
can help to utilize the benefits of MPAs while avoiding their
potential shortcomings (Agardi et al., 2011).
Benefits of MPAs
MPAs have the potential to provide a number of benefits to
local communities, fisheries, and the marine environment,
including (1) conserving biological diversity and ecosystems;
(2) protecting critical spawning and nursery habitats; (3)
protecting sites with limited human impact to help them re-
cover from stresses; (4) protecting settlement and growth areas
for marine species and spillover benefits to adjacent areas; (5)
protecting sites for educating the public about marine eco-
systems and threats to them; (6) supporting nature-based
recreation and tourism; (7) providing control sites as baselines
for scientific research; and (8) reducing poverty and increasing
the quality of life of adjacent communities (IUCN-WCPA,
2008). Benefits of MPAs – specifically, marine reserves – have
been demonstrated through empirical studies for mollusks,
crustaceans, and fishes in habitats ranging from coral reefs,
kelp forests, temperate continental shelves, estuaries, seagrass
beds, and mangroves (Gell and Roberts, 2003). The following
four sections outline the ecological and socioeconomic
benefits of marine reserves based on global and regional meta-
analyses and site-based studies.
Increases in Size, Abundance, Biomass, Diversity, and
Increased Reproductive Potential
Benefits to marine reserves include increases in abundance,
biomass, and diversity of many species within reserve
boundaries (Table 1), yet the range of responses to reserve
establishment is very large (Lester et al., 2009;Gaines et al.,
2010a). Kenchington (1990) identifies several classes of spe-
cies for which marine reserves may not be effective such as
species with planktonic larvae and planktonic or pelagic
adults (e.g., most phytoplankton and zooplankton species to
pelagic fishes with large home ranges). However, these species
may have a stage that depends on a nursery area or spawning
site, and they could be protected by a reserve, assuming that
other life stages outside the reserve are not overexploited
(Allison et al., 1998).
Within reserves, individuals can grow larger, live longer,
and develop increased reproductive potential and populations
increase in size (Bohnsack, 1998). Enhanced production of
eggs and larvae within reserves are predicted to result in
greater export and settlement of juveniles outside boundaries
(Gell and Roberts, 2003). In addition, reserves have helped to
restore ecosystem structure and function (Sobel and Dahlgren,
2004;Mumby et al., 2006). However, these benefits do not
96 Marine Protected Areas: Static Boundaries in a Changing World
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always occur due to fishers’ behavior in response to reserves,
fishing regulations outside the reserve, and the regulations
regarding activities within and outside the reserve (Gaines
et al.,2010b.)
Benefits to Nontarget Species
Recent reviews on the benefits of marine reserves typically
focus on benefits to target species as opposed to nontargeted
groups such as fish, invertebrates, or algae or corals (Babcock
et al.,2010). However, it is important to understand the im-
pacts of reserves on nontarget groups if the goal of protection
is to maintain ecosystem structure and function. Studies have
documented that nontarget species either do not respond
to protection (Jennings et al., 1995;Rakitin and Kramer, 1996)
or respond negatively (i.e., reduced abundances in response
to increased predation within reserves; McClanahan et al.,
1999). Other studies have shown that nontarget habitats
improve following protection (Mumby et al., 2005;Shears and
Babcock, 2003), where changes in ecosystem structure
have been documented due to the restoration of predator
populations. For example, in tropical systems, enhanced coral
recruitment has occurred following a recovery in herbivores
that graze down macroalgae and thus encourage coral settle-
ment (Mumby et al., 2005). In temperate systems in New
Zealand, the recovery of lobsters and large fishes led to
predation and declines of sea urchin populations that led
to a reduction in grazing and subsequent recovery of kelp
forests (Shears and Babcock, 2003). Reserves have the poten-
tial to provide useful insights into the indirect effects of
overfishing on ecosystem structure and function (Babcock
et al.,2010).
Benefits to Adjacent Fisheries
The ability of reserves to provide conservation or fisheries
benefits to adjacent waters is highly controversial (Gell and
Roberts, 2003;Hilborn et al., 2004;Halpern et al.,2010), yet
recent research suggests that higher abundances within re-
serves can lead to spillover of adults to adjacent waters
(Roberts et al., 2001;Abesamis and Russ, 2005;Kellner et al.,
2008;Perez-Ruzafa et al., 2008;Halpern et al.,2010). Spillover
occurs through the net export of adults and juveniles (spill-
over effect) and propagules (recruitment effect) (Russ, 2002).
The spillover effect operates on local scales (hundreds of
meters to kilometers for reef fish), whereas the recruitment
effect operates at scales of tens of kilometers (scales of dis-
persal of pelagic larvae; Palumbi, 2001;Russ et al., 2004).
Spillover from reserves may result in economic benefits from
enhanced fisheries and tourism (White et al., 2008) yet may
take decades to develop fully (Roberts et al., 2001;Russ et al.,
Table 1 Global and regional meta-analyses of ecological benefits of marine reserves within reserve boundaries
Indicator Results Taxonomic group # Studies/marine reserves analyzed Source
Biomass 446% increase Algae, invertebrates, and
124 reserves (global) Lester et al. (2009)
Density 166% increase
Individual size 28% increase
21% increase
Biomass 352% increase Algae, invertebrates, and
89 studies; 70 reserves (global) Halpern (2003)
Density 151% increase
Individual size 29% increase
25% increase
Biomass 1.9 times higher Algae, invertebrates, and
30 reserves (global; temperate only) Stewart et al. (2009)
Density 1.7 times higher
1.5 times higher
Abundance 25% increase Fishes 19 reserves (global) Co
´et al. (2001)
11% increase
Abundance 3.7 times higher (for target
Fishes 12 studies (global) Mosquera et al. (2000)
No change (nontarget species)
Density 66% increase Fishes 32 reserves (global) Molloy et al. (2009)
Density 2.46 times larger Fishes 12 reserves (regional – European) Claudet et al. (2008)
No effect
Biomass 2.1 times greater Fishes 12 reserves (regional –
Guidetti and Sala
Density 1.2 times greater
Marine Protected Areas: Static Boundaries in a Changing World 97
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Long-Term Ecological Benefits
Research has shown that fisheries and conservation benefits of
marine reserves increase with greater years of protection (Russ
et al., 2004;Claudet et al., 2008;Molloy et al., 2009;Selig and
Bruno, 2010). To measure the long-term benefits of marine
reserves, time-series data are needed to describe ecological
changes due to protection and the stability of such changes.
Babcock et al. (2010) analyzed data from temperate and tro-
pical marine reserves collected on decadal time scales and
found that even though most target species showed initial
direct effects (e.g., change in abundance, size of individuals,
biomass), their trajectories over time were highly variable. The
abundance of some target species continued to increase after
protection, whereas some leveled off and others decreased
over time. Decreases in abundance were likely due to natural
fluctuations, fishing impacts from outside reserves, and in-
creases in predation within reserves. Despite these differences,
populations of targeted species were more stable in reserves
than fished areas, indicating increased ecological resilience
(Babcock et al.,2010). Although some benefits are evident
shortly after protection (individuals live longer, mortality rates
are lower), other benefits take longer to fully develop, such as
increases in reproductive output, biodiversity, and stabiliza-
tion of communities and ecosystem structure and function.
Therefore, understanding that indirect effects (e.g., ecosystem-
wide recovery) from removal of fishing pressure take time
(e.g., 413 years; Babcock et al.,2010) is essential for man-
agers, policy makers, and communities to have realistic ex-
pectations of the benefits of marine reserves.
Socioeconomic Benefits
Although the ecological benefits of MPAs, particularly marine
reserves, are well established, there has been less emphasis on
the social and economic benefits to human communities.
Further, rigorous policy analyses are lacking that consider
the full range of economic costs and benefits of MPAs (Rudd
et al., 2003;Pelletier et al., 2005). A limited number of recent
assessments review the economic impacts of MPAs but
are concentrated in North America, Australia, and Europe
(e.g., Carlsen and Wood, 2004;Carter, 2003;KPMG, 2000;
Leeworthy and Wiley, 2002;Roncin et al., 2008), thus leaving
out areas with the highest tropical marine biodiversity
worldwide, such as Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Socioeconomic assessments of the benefits of MPAs typi-
cally differentiate between extractive (e.g., fishers) and non-
extractive users (e.g., recreational users such as divers,
snorkelers, bathers, ecotourists, and sightseers) because these
groups are likely to be impacted differently by the MPA (see
Table 2 for a summary of the potential social and economic
costs and benefits of MPAs for these user groups). For
extractive users, adverse impacts from MPA establishment
may include loss of access rights to fishing grounds or
increased risk due to traveling farther to access alternative
fishing grounds. For a reserve to provide fisheries benefits to
human communities, the reserve must lead to a net increase in
yield (i.e., increases in harvest must be large enough to com-
pensate for the area removed from fishing). The establishment
of a marine reserve may actually reduce fishing opportunity
and yield if the fisheries are already sustainably managed
(Hastings and Botsford, 1999;Sladek-Nowlis and Roberts,
1999;Ralston and O’Farrell, 2008). The implementation
of an MPA can increase costs if fewer fish are available due to
harvest restrictions; fuel or labor costs are higher due to tra-
veling farther to fishing grounds, and congestion increases in
fishing grounds (Rudd et al., 2003). A number of case studies
suggest that fishers perceive the costs of MPAs (in terms of lost
harvest) as greater than the benefits provided (e.g., from
spillover) (Wolfenden et al., 1994;Sant, 1996;Suman et al.,
Table 2 Summary of potential social and economic benefits and costs of MPAs
Categories Benefits Costs
Extractive users
(e.g., commercial and
recreational fishers)
Increase in catch (and associated income) Decrease in catch (and foregone fishing income)
Enhanced catch variety (greater species variety, greater
frequency of older/larger fish)
Crowding of displaced effort
User conflicts
Higher costs associated with choice of fishing location
Increase in safety risks
Nonextractive users
(e.g., divers, tourists)
Maintain species diversity Damage to marine ecosystem
Greater habitat complexity and diversity Loss of traditional fishing community
Higher density levels of marine species
Enhanced recreational opportunities (e.g., scuba, snorkeling)
Research opportunities
Protection of other ecosystem services (e.g., coastal
protection from erosion and storm surge by healthy reefs)
Management Savings in enforcement costs over nonspatial management Increase in monitoring and enforcement costs
Revenues derived from charging users of the MPA Direct costs of setting up MPA
Scientific knowledge Costs of compensatory measures for displaced activities
Hedge against uncertain stock assessments Foregone income from resource extraction (oil, gas, and
mineral exploration, and bio-prospecting)
Educational opportunities Increased congestion and possibly degraded ecosystem if
MPA is not well managed due to increased use
98 Marine Protected Areas: Static Boundaries in a Changing World
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By contrast, costs may be lower for fishers due to steady
and reliable spillover to adjacent fishing grounds and en-
hanced catch variety (Sumaila, 1998;Roncin et al., 2008). The
fishing benefits of MPAs are challenging to assess because fish
mobility between reserves and open areas to fishing are often
poorly documented and because MPA benefits to fishers are
highly dependent on the level of fishing in open areas (Roncin
et al., 2008). Thus, the economic value of spillover depends
more on fishers’ behavior and the cost of fishing as opposed to
biological factors (Rudd et al., 2003).
For nonextractive users, MPAs are likely to improve the
quality of the marine ecosystem within the MPA that may be
valuable to visitors (Rudd and Tupper, 2002). Because marine
reserves support increases in the size and abundance of many
species within reserve boundaries (Halpern, 2003) and recre-
ational users such as snorkelers and divers prefer viewing
larger and more abundant species (Williams and Polunin,
2000;Rudd and Tupper, 2002), the profitability of recre-
ational and tourism providers may be increased by MPA
establishment (Rudd et al., 2002). Although an increase in
visitors may increase revenues, too many visitors could ad-
versely affect marine ecosystems within MPAs, particularly
when their activities are not well managed. Further, increases
in congestion may result in a decline in people’s willingness to
pay for wildlife viewing (Rudd and Tupper, 2002).
Economic valuations of MPAs provide valuable cost–benefit
analyses and also highlight how the benefits of an MPA may be
distributed. For example, the economic value of a healthy Great
Barrier Reef to Australia is currently estimated to be around $5.5
billion Australian dollars annually and is increasing (McCook
et al.,2010). This estimate includes only use values (e.g., jobs,
tourism, and fishing) and underestimates the total economic
value. The costs associated with zoning and management of the
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are significantly less than the
estimated economic value of the Great Barrier Reef; manage-
ment costs are consistently less than 1% of the economic re-
turns (McCook et al., 2010 ). Similarly, in the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary, the management costs of the con-
servation program represented only 2% of the total benefits
derived from the MPA (Bhat, 2003). In a recent economic an-
alysis of 12 marine reserves in Europe, results suggest that the
amount of income generated by fishing and diving in the MPA
represents 2.3 times the management costs of the MPA (Roncin
et al., 2008). An economic assessment conducted for an MPA
in Kenya also demonstrated that the income generated from
the MPA was substantially higher than the management and
opportunity costs for the park; income from the MPA was $1.6
million annually from tourism and $39,000 from fisheries
compared to management and opportunity costs of less than
$200,000 (Emerton and Tessema, 2001). Economic benefits
from the MPA, such as shoreline protection, marine product-
ivity, wildlife habitat and nursery, and cultural and aesthetic
values, were not included in this assessment (Emerton and
Tessema, 2001) but would have made the estimate of benefits
even greater. The valuation demonstrated that some groups
(commercial tourism operators) received the main economic
benefits from the MPA, whereas others such as the local fishing
communities (which had reduced fishing opportunities) and
the park office (responsible for managing the MPA) bore the
cost. Such analyses provide valuable indications of the equity of
the distribution of MPA benefits that can directly affect com-
pliance and overall protection.
In addition to assessing the economic benefits of MPAs,
social benefits should also be addressed. Studies have docu-
mented the importance of assessing the perception of people
affected by MPAs, as their perceptions affect the degree of
support or opposition to the MPA, and consequently the ef-
fectiveness of protection (Pelletier et al., 2005). A critical social
benefit of MPAs is reducing and anticipating conflicts between
different user groups. Much of the world’s coastal areas are
characterized by conflict between user groups or jurisdictional
agencies (Agardi, 2000). For example, recreational use may
conflict with shipping and mineral extraction, and commercial
and subsistence fishing may conflict with scuba diving and
nature-based tourism. In such cases, zoning can be used to
accommodate a wide variety of uses and can be used as a tool
to settle disputes when they occur (Reynard, 1994;Agardi,
2000). Other social benefits include improving visitors’ satis-
faction and increasing public knowledge about marine eco-
systems and biodiversity (Pelletier et al., 2005). The potential
of MPAs to help alleviate poverty in coastal communities
dependent on coral reefs has also been acknowledged (Leisher
et al., 2007). It is important to note that although MPAs may
achieve their biological objectives, they may fail at achieving
their social objectives. Therefore, assessments of the social
effects of MPAs are critical to determine their long-term
benefits (Christie, 2004).
Global Commitment to MPA Establishment
Governments around the world have demonstrated their
commitment to conserving coastal and marine ecosystems for
the benefit of the communities that depend on them. National
leaders have formed regional initiatives to establish networks
of MPAs to support fisheries and food security, sustainable
tourism, ecosystem services, livelihoods, and cultural heritage
(e.g., the Micronesia Challenge, the Caribbean Challenge, the
Coral Triangle Initiative, and the Western Indian Ocean
Challenge). These Initiatives are critical to building political
will to support marine conservation efforts, improved inte-
gration with development priorities, and the development of
sustainable financing mechanisms (Toropova et al.,2010).
The number and areal extent of MPAs has increased dra-
matically over the last decade; the current global coverage of
MPAs has increased 60% over the last three years and more
than 150% since 2003 (Chape et al., 2008). Currently, the
total number of MPAs worldwide is about 5878 and covers
more than 4.2 million km
of ocean (B1.2% of the global
ocean; Toropova et al.,2010). The World Parks Congress in
2003 set a target for conserving 20–30% of the world’s oceans,
yet the costs of running a global MPA network have been
estimated at $5–19 billion annually (Balmford et al., 2004).
Such an effort would require an increase in current areal and
financial investment in marine conservation by two orders of
magnitude. A recent assessment of the progress toward global
marine protection targets identified a mismatch between the
resources available and those required to implement and
monitor a global network of protected areas (Wood et al.,
2008). The authors (Wood et al., 2008) suggest that once a
Marine Protected Areas: Static Boundaries in a Changing World 99
Author's personal copy
global network is developed, it is likely to be a compromise
between quantity (how closely the targets are met) and quality
(how well designed and effectively managed the protected
areas are).
MPA Effectiveness
Despite the increases in the total number of MPAs worldwide,
it is essential to assess how well these MPAs are meeting their
objectives. According to a recent global analysis, 27% of the
world’s coral reefs are located within MPAs, yet only 6% of
these are effectively managed (Burke et al.,2011). Further,
nearly half of the MPAs worldwide are ineffective at reducing
the threat of overfishing (Burke et al.,2011).
MPA performance is highly variable (Kelleher et al., 1995;
Halpern, 2003), and a number of factors have been identified
that limit the effectiveness of MPAs in conserving biodiversity,
maintaining fisheries, or providing additional ecosystem ser-
vices to human communities. Some have suggested that social
and political factors, as opposed to biological factors, are the
primary determinants of MPA success or failure (Kelleher and
Recchia, 1998;McClanahan, 1999;Mascia, 2003;Leisher,
2008). For example, some MPAs are ineffective because the
management framework is ignored or not enforced (these are
referred to as ‘‘paper parks’’), or they have regulations that
are fully and effectively implemented but are insufficient to
address the threats within the MPA. Other factors affecting
MPA effectiveness include differences in reserve design (e.g.,
size of no-take and buffer zones; Claudet et al., 2008) or re-
serve shape (Kramer and Chapman, 1999). The location of
MPAs also affects effectiveness; MPAs are often placed in areas
where threats are lowest (e.g., large MPAs in remote areas such
as the northwest Hawaiian Islands; Burke et al.,2011) and thus
may do little to mitigate local threats.
MPAs may function more effectively when devolution of
authority for MPA development and management occurs (e.g.,
from national government to local governments, nongovern-
mental organizations, and resource users; White et al., 2002).
Other factors supporting effectiveness of MPAs include adap-
tive and participatory decision-making arrangements; clearly
defined MPA boundaries; clear, easily understood, and easily
enforceable rules; legitimacy of rules and regulations; political
commitment and leadership; and collaborative MPA man-
agement structures linking resources with local interests and
knowledge (Mascia, 2003).
The result of establishing a reserve in one location is that
fishing effort simply moves elsewhere, and the reallocation of
fishing efforts can have adverse impacts on species and habi-
tats outside the reserve (Hilborn et al., 2004). In places where
fishing systems are effective at protecting stock (e.g., through
catch, size, and area limits), it is not clear whether establishing
MPAs will provide additional benefits (Hilborn et al., 2004).
The effectiveness of reserves also varies due to differential re-
sponses of species to protection (Micheli et al., 2004;Molloy
et al., 2009). Researchers have noted significantly large in-
creases in abundance of some large-bodied commercially
important species following reserve establishment (e.g., Russ
and Alcala, 1996;Claudet et al., 2008), yet many species re-
spond less predictably to protection (Mosqueira et al., 2000;
Molloy et al., 2009). Although commonly fished predatory
species are likely to benefit from reserve establishment, prey
species may decline due to trophic cascades (Micheli et al.,
2004;Molloy et al., 2009). Research suggests that MPAs are
effective at protecting sedentary species, but they are less
effective at preserving highly mobile species that may spend
considerable time outside MPA boundaries (Kaiser, 2005),
although exceptions have been documented (McCook et al.,
2010). Therefore, the scales of adult movement and propagule
dispersal can be critical to MPA effectiveness. Empirical studies
are needed to clarify the benefits of MPAs to highly mobile
species, and innovative management approaches are needed
to complement strategically placed MPAs to support them
(Gaines et al.,2010b).
Role of MPAs in a Changing World: Rising to the
Climate change impacts are already occurring in coastal and
marine ecosystems worldwide and include shifts in ocean
current patterns, ecosystem changes (e.g., widespread coral
loss from mass bleaching), changes in larval development
and transport, and species range shifts and interactions
(Wilkinson, 1998;Parmesan and Yohe, 2003;IPCC, 2007;
Rosenzweig et al., 2008). MPAs are a core strategy in marine
conservation, yet they are geographically fixed and thus poorly
suited to accommodate shifts in species ranges and habitats.
In addition, most existing MPAs are designed based on current
climate conditions. The recognition of their limitations in a
changing world has led some to question their relevance as a
conservation response in an era of rapid climate change
´jo et al., 2004;Hannah et al., 2007).
The ability of MPAs to protect ecosystems and species in
the face of climate change and other changes (e.g., increasing
global population) is debated (Mora et al., 2006;Graham
et al., 2007;McClanahan, 2008;Selig and Bruno, 2010). Some
researchers suggest that habitat loss (e.g., coral reefs) in re-
sponse to climate change, storms, and diseases are unlikely
to be mitigated by MPAs (Jameson et al., 2002;Aronson and
Precht, 2006;Graham et al., 2008). Site-specific studies
have suggested that MPAs do not always protect biodiversity
better than unmanaged areas in response to climate impacts
(Jones et al., 2004;Graham et al., 2007;McClanahan,
2008). Further, some studies suggest that thermal stress can
cause proportionally greater coral mortality of protected than
unprotected corals (McClanahan et al., 2007;Graham et al.,
2007;Graham et al., 2008;Darling et al.,2010). This may
be due to the different coral species composition between
protected and unprotected sites (e.g., higher abundance of
thermally sensitive corals such as Acropora and Montipora
within reserves) (Co
´and Darling, 2010;Darling et al.,2010).
Recent global analyses, however, have confirmed that MPAs
can be effective in preventing coral loss (coral cover remained
constant in MPAs over 38 years, whereas coral cover on un-
protected reefs declined; Selig and Bruno, 2010). Surveys in
the Bahamas showed significantly higher increases in coral
cover in reserve boundaries compared to outside the reserve
(Mumby and Harborne, 2010). Mumby and Harborne (2010)
suggest that reserves play an important role in increasing coral
100 Marine Protected Areas: Static Boundaries in a Changing World
Author's personal copy
reef recovery rates provided that macroalgae have been de-
pleted by more abundant communities of grazers benefiting
from reduced fishing pressure, particularly in the Caribbean.
Empirical evidence both supports (Lafferty and Behrens,
2005;Mumby et al., 2006;Babcock et al.,2010) and refutes
(McClanahan, 2008) the idea that species and habitats within
reserves are more resilient than those outside reserve bound-
aries (Gaines et al.,2010b). Therefore, additional studies are
urgently needed to establish the ability of MPAs to support
resilience in a variety of habitats and geographic locations and
in response to diverse threats.
To address the challenge of climate change, conservation
practitioners and researchers are applying new tools such as
ecological forecasting and climate envelope models to identify
sites most likely to protect biodiversity in the future and to
assess the ability of reserves and networks to protect species
under different climate change scenarios (Arau
´jo et al., 2004;
Hannah et al., 2007;Hannah, 2008). Researchers have cau-
tioned that the use of these tools is limited by the lack of
existing data needed to support the models and uncertainties
inherent in climate change projections and most ecological
forecasting approaches (Thuiller, 2004;Lawler et al., 2006;
Lawler, 2009).
Complementing the new tools to support MPA design,
major advances in recommendations for MPA and network
design have also occurred over the last decade (Roberts et al.,
2003;Halpern et al., 2006;Gaines et al.,2010a), particularly
recommendations specifically designed to address climate
change impacts (Lawler, 2009;Mcleod et al., 2009). Such
principles may include the identification and protection of
refuges (e.g., sites resistant to climate change impacts; such
sites can provide the larvae needed to reseed areas that suc-
cumb to coral bleaching), pathways of connectivity that link
these refuges with damaged areas, and measures to build
redundancy into networks, thereby ameliorating the risk that
climate change impacts will result in irrevocable biodiversity
loss (West and Salm, 2003;Mcleod et al., 2009).
Researchers have suggested that more and larger MPAs will
be needed in the future to address climate change impacts
(Lawler, 2009). Specific recommendations include increasing
the size of existing reserves, adding buffers around existing
reserves, and adding larger reserves to reserve networks
(Halpin, 1997;Noss, 2001). Establishing more and larger re-
serves may be insufficient to protect biodiversity and maintain
ecosystem services if the reserves are not located in the right
places; a more strategic approach involves locating reserves so
that they capture the most potential for habitat heterogeneity
under a variety of climate scenarios (Lawler, 2009), or in
places predicted to escape the brunt of climate change (West
and Salm, 2003;Mumby and Steneck, 2008;Mcleod et al.,
´and Darling, 2010). In addition, whereas larger
MPAs may provide protection for increased and functional
groups, they may not be politically, socially, or economically
feasible. Research also suggests that large MPAs may be less
effective than other traditional management approaches. For
example, traditional management regimes in Indonesia and
Papua New Guinea involving periodic closures were signifi-
cantly more effective than national parks with permanent
closures – a more than 40% increase in targeted fish biomass
within reserves in traditional management regimes compared
to less than 2% increase in national parks (McClanahan et al.,
2006). McClanahan et al. (2006) note that whereas large
MPAs may provide the best protection for species susceptible
to overfishing, traditional management approaches may pro-
vide the best solution for meeting conservation and com-
munity goals and reversing the degradation of reef ecosystems.
MPA and zone boundaries should be designed to be flex-
ible in space and time so that they can be expanded or con-
tracted, have seasonal or other fixed time limits, or be moved
to different levels of protection to help them meet their
objectives in response to future changes. Where habitat shifts
are predicted, managers should proactively plan for landward
migration, particularly in areas where habitats have the po-
tential to expand (e.g., mangrove migration landward in re-
sponse to sea-level rise). It is important to identify and protect
areas likely to serve as refuges in the future (i.e., predictive
protected areas; Herr and Galland, 2009) and also areas that
have demonstrated resilience to climate change impacts.
Finally, to help MPAs continue to achieve their social, eco-
logical, and economic objectives, adaptive management is
essential. Adaptive management refers to the integration of
design, management, and monitoring to systematically test
assumptions in order to adapt and learn (Salafsky et al., 2001).
In the context of MPAs, adaptive management involves the
integration of the best available science into MPA strategies and
monitoring to systematically test the effectiveness of manage-
ment methods and refine them over time. Conservation man-
agers should develop management approaches that are flexible
and able to incorporate future species and habitat migrations,
and they need to apply risk-spreading strategies to ensure the
protection of key larvae, species, and habitats. Monitoring
should go beyond simply assessing whether current policies
are effective (e.g., is biodiversity declining?) and should focus
on resolving the underlying causes (e.g., how can we reverse the
decline?) (Hughes et al., 2007). Monitoring programs must
address thresholds, regime shifts and feedbacks, and the cap-
acity of ecosystems to maintain ecosystem services in response
to future changes (Hughes et al., 2007). Understanding how
ecosystem services will be affected by climate change is neces-
sary for setting conservation priorities and designing and
managing restoration projects (Lawler, 2009).
MPAs have a critical role to play in protecting marine
ecosystems and the benefits derived from these systems and in
securing the communities that depend on them. There may be
trade-offs between MPAs designed for biodiversity, sustainable
use, and climate change. Therefore, it is important to include
risk assessments, scenario planning, and adaptive manage-
ment approaches that incorporate these potential trade-offs
(Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2009).
To be successful in a changing world, MPAs must strive to
achieve the complementary goals of maintaining biodiversity,
promoting ecosystem values, and enhancing resilience.
List of Courses
Applied Ecology and Environmental Management
Conservation Biology
Marine Protected Areas: Static Boundaries in a Changing World 101
Author's personal copy
Marine Ecosystem Management
Marine Protected Areas
Fishery Management
See also: Coastal Beach Ecosystems. Conservation Efforts,
Contemporary. Corals and Coral Reefs. Ecosystem Function
Measurement, Aquatic and Marine Communities. Ecosystem Services.
Ethical Issues in Biodiversity Protection. Fish Conservation.
Identifying Conservation Priorities Using a Return on Investment
Analysis. Mangrove Ecosystems. Marine and Aquatic Communities,
Stress from Eutrophication. Marine Conservation in a Changing
Climate. Marine Ecosystems. Marine Ecosystems, Human Impacts on.
Modeling Marine Ecosystem Services. Natural Reserves and
Preserves. Ocean Ecosystems. Pelagic Ecosystems. Resource
Exploitation, Fisheries. Role and Trends of Protected Areas in
Conservation. Seagrasses. Wetlands Ecosystems. Wetland Creation
and Restoration
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104 Marine Protected Areas: Static Boundaries in a Changing World
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... • Accounting for differing historical trajectories may add further robustness. (44,46,47), it remains unclear how a climate responsive seascape conservation network would look in practice. It could be argued that climate change will erode the value of static protection. ...
... A new paradigm would be to focus on accrued benefits to ecosystems, which may shift in geographic location, rather than on benefits to specific sites, in which the ecological composition may become altered and affect the delivery of locationspecific benefits. If ecosystems, habi tats, or communities move with climate change, then accruing benefits to or from an ecosystem necessitates moving or extending manage ment measures as that ecosystem moves; otherwise, accrued benefits may begin to deteriorate as the objectives move beyond the boundaries of protection (47). This shift in focus can help to guide a conserva tion approach that includes dynamic management tools, here explicitly referring to dynamic management measures rather than dynamic zoning within existing static measures. ...
Full-text available
The impacts of climate change and the socioecological challenges they present are ubiquitous and increasingly severe. Practical efforts to operationalize climate-responsive design and management in the global network of marine protected areas (MPAs) are required to ensure long-term effectiveness for safeguarding marine biodiversity and ecosystem services. Here, we review progress in integrating climate change adaptation into MPA design and management and provide eight recommendations to expedite this process. Climate-smart management objectives should become the default for all protected areas, and made into an explicit international policy target. Furthermore, incentives to use more dynamic management tools would increase the climate change responsiveness of the MPA network as a whole. Given ongoing negotiations on international conservation targets, now is the ideal time to proactively reform management of the global seascape for the dynamic climate-biodiversity reality.
... If such resilient locations can be identified, it would be possible to consider reconfiguring MPAs to include them, according to the nature of the stress involved. Numerous studies are underway (McLeod, 2013;McLeod et al., 2013) but further work is necessary to determine whether such a concept could apply for all marine ecosystems, current work being largely limited to coral reefs (Olsen et al., 2013). ...
Full-text available
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have a long history, originating in traditional and cultural initiatives often focused on reserving resources for food security. A handful of ‘parks’ were established between the 1870s and 1940s and, following World War II, increased awareness of threats to the ocean led to global programmes that started in the 1970–1980s. Initially IUCN became the leader, piloting a science‐based ‘critical marine habitats’ approach, by which MPAs were aimed at conserving the healthiest and most diverse ecosystems, endangered and charismatic species, and high‐profile habitats. During the 1970s, with the support of WWF, UNESCO, UNEP, and growing national efforts, the MPA concept evolved to include biosphere reserves, marine reserves and sanctuaries, large ocean reserves, and other designations that aimed to reconcile long‐term protection with human use. From the 1980s, MPAs greatly expanded in number and scope. By the turn of the millennium, MPAs were proliferating, and principles and methodologies were available to guide their establishment and management in a harmonized manner. Zoning for different uses was widespread, but questions were being raised about the efficacy of biodiversity conservation in areas where extractive uses were permitted. MPA implementation accelerated once targets were introduced by the Convention on Biological Diversity. Campaigns and fundraising by non‐governmental organizations and further national efforts resulted in a rapid increase although, by 2015, less than 4% of ocean surface was protected. Current challenges include: (1) understanding the role of MPAs in maintaining ecosystem services, fishery management, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and other emergent problems; (2) more rigorous network design; (3) effective governance and demonstration of ‘success’; and (4) integrating MPAs with marine spatial planning. While MPAs have provided one of the most viable and politically acceptable approaches to marine conservation for 50 years, their role in developing a fully effective marine ecosystems management regime has yet to be fully explored and understood. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
... Up to the present, the protection of marine environments has been concentrated on a more (Bertram and Rehdanz 2013). Marine conservation areas are a local response to global problems (Mcleod 2013), and this poses the problem of finding effective and long-lasting solutions. This is why it seems necessary to integrate the idea of sustainable development into boat building. ...
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Purpose Wooden boatyard building was replaced in the 1970s in favor of materials which are considered cheaper and simpler to work with (such as composite or aluminum). With today’s new environmental standards, the choices of materials must also be compatible with the aims of ecodesign. We promote wood-based boats and the replacement of exotic woods with local varieties (from France). An environmental impact assessment is needed to clarify the relative position of each solution. Methods In order to validate the choices, we used a life cycle assessment (LCA) “from cradle to grave” of the hull. This LCA is based on the comparison of the following different materials used: aluminum, composite, exotic wood, and maritime pine. This study is based on the construction of an 18-m-long passenger transport boat. These evaluations were carried out with respect to ISO 14040 standards, beginning with an existing database and measurements taken on the building and production sites. Results and discussion Our results demonstrate the benefits of using a wood-based hull compared with other materials. Moreover, the results show that the maritime pine used in replacement of imported exotic woods is more favorable from both economic and environmental points of view. This LCA allowed us to characterize precisely the stages in the life cycle of a passenger boat and to propose a hierarchy of the different materials under comparison for the purposes of boat building. Conclusions The recommendations and lines of progress highlighted by this study will allow us to enhance the efficiency of upcoming constructions and to promote the ecodesign conception in the boatyard.