Science should not be left behind during the design of a marine protected area
Authors: Manuel Muntoni (TBTI member), Rodolphe Devillers (TBTI cluster coordinator) & Mariano Koen-Alonso
Marine protected areas (MPAs) design is a complex process that typically involves diverse stakeholders, requiring compromise between diverging priorities. Such compromises, when not carefully understood, can threaten the ecological effectiveness of MPAs. Using the example of the Canadian Laurentian Channel MPA, the authors studied a planning process from initial scientific advice to the final MPA.
They analysed the impacts of successive boundary modifications to the draft MPA, often made to accommodate extractive industries, on the protection of seven species initially identified as potential conservation priorities. The authors also quantified the potential economic impacts of changes in boundary modifications on the fisheries industry.
Results show that reducing the proposed MPA size by 33.4% helped reduce the potential economic impact on the fishing industry by 65.5%, but it resulted in up to 43% decrease in protection of species of conservation priority. Changes in MPA boundary delineation during the design were not subjected to formal scientific reviews, raising questions on the potential effectiveness of this MPA.
Better integration of science in MPA design is required to help assess the impacts that trade-offs made during stakeholder consultations can have on the MPA ecological effectiveness.
Muntoni, M., Devillers, D., & Koen-Alonso, M. 2019. Science should not be left behind during the design of a marine protected area: meeting conservation priorities while integrating stakeholder interests. FACETS 4: 472–492. https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2018-0033.