Protected Areas

Marine Protected Area Management and Governance

In the past, the protection of marine biodiversity has been the driving force to establish Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), whereas  and benefits derived from MPAs have become more important since. Besides conserving biodiversity and resources, MPAs provide a variety of socio-economic benefits for fisheries, tourism, other local economies, as well as research, education, and cultural values.

Global commitments
Global commitments to develop and implement MPAs have been made by the international community. Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) states that “by 2020 … 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures , and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.”

MPAs can be grouped into a variety of different management categories, ranging from strict protection to management for sustainable use. Some MPAs are unfortunately so-called “paper parks” due to failures in management and/or design. Different governance approaches that are applied to MPAs include governance by government (top-down), communal governance (bottom- up), shared governance (co-management), market-based approaches and private governance. Equity, shared governance and benefits, and broad participation are important principles for the effectiveness of MPAs. Furthermore, sustainable financing and cross-sectorial cooperation are pre-requisites for successfully achieving the conservation goals.

MPAs are an important tool for ocean conservation. Isolated MPAs cannot effectively contribute to conservation, thus they need to be embedded in a broader framework of cross-sectorial planning and policy approaches, complemented by other measures embedded in integrated management. To avoid a patchwork of “conservation islands” and to increase effectiveness marine protected areas should be networked together.

Most MPAs lie in coastal and nearshore waters typically far away from population centres. In total, MPAs cover about 2.3 percent of the global oceans. To effectively conserve marine biodiversity and to sustain the socio-economic benefits for coastal populations, the remaining coastal and ocean areas, especially ecologically or biologically significant areas of high seas would have to become an integral part of an overall management and governance.

“Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. In the marine realm, these include provisioning services, such as food; regulating services, such as climate and disease regulation; supporting services, such nutrient cycling and primary production [synthesis of organic compounds from carbon dioxide, principally through the process of photosynthesis]; and cultural services, such as recreational, spiritual, and other nonmaterial benefits.”
(Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005)