PLANNING AND MANAGING MARINE PROTECTED AREAS: FROM BELIEF SYSTEMS TO EVIDENCE
People involved in establishing and managing marine protected areas (MPAs) are motivated by wanting to make a positive difference to the eventual state of the marine environment. In parallel with medicine, education, and development aid, the difference we make in conservation is referred to as “impact”. Impact can be evaluated retrospectively, to offer lessons to planners and managers, and estimated predictively, to guide decisions on priorities for conservation investments. But much of the decision-making around MPAs is based more on untested belief systems than on evidence. Effective MPAs require decision-makers to critically assess their assumptions and beliefs about approaches to planning and management. This presentation critiques five aspects of decision-making about MPAs, showing that none of them can be linked reliably to conservation impact: 1. Accumulating km2 2. Establishing large, remote MPAs 3. Management based on criteria for effectiveness 4. Setting criteria-based priorities (e.g. KBAs, EBSAs) 5. Systematic methods to represent species or marine bioregions. All five approaches fail to inform funders and decision-makers about conservation impact and risk being used to over-state progress in marine conservation. A consequence is avoidable degradation of marine ecosystems and loss of marine biodiversity. The barrier to moving to evidence-based decisions for MPAs is not lack of capacity, but lack of willingness to use and refine available tools to look critically at and improve approaches to decision-making about MPAs.
Pressey, B., James Cook University, Australia, email@example.com
Location: 302 A/B
Presentation is given by student: No